We are bombarded from all directions with information and tips on nutrition and diet. Quite often we are unable to see the whole picture and are confused by the seemingly contradictory advice offered. Yoga can help individual find a way through this maze. It advocates a pure vegetarian diet based on the ancient knowledge of ayurveda.
The ancient Indian healing system of ayurveda (literally translated as the science or knowledge of life) is considered to be the oldest medical system in the world. Ayurveda is closely allied to the practice of yoga and has been practised and refined for over 4,000 years. Recent research has shown that it formed the basis of the early Greek knowledge of physiology and medicine. Ayurveda is as relevant and effective today as it was in ancient times. It teaches us how to maintain and protect health, cure disease and promote longevity. Based on balancing the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual, it brings a renewed sense of harmony and wellbeing to anyone who follows its principles.
According to ayurveda, one of the foundations of good health is nutrition in harmony with our constitution, teaching us how important diet is in the treatment of diseases.
Longevity, strength, energy, growth, complexion, and lustre all depend on a good digestive system and a good diet.
Ayurvedic hints on an ideal diet
- it should taste good
- it should satisfy
- it should fortify the body
- it should give both instant and lasting energy
- it should be taken in proper quantity
- it should boost vitality and memory
- it should promote longevity
Guidelines for healthy eating
- Eat seated, in a pleasant environment
- Eat only after the previous meal has been digested (five to six hours)
- Eat calmly and chew well
- Drink a little hot water or herb tea with the meal
- Avoid cold or iced drinks at all times
- Be happy and cheerful when cooking and eating – your mood affects your digestive system and the energy of the food
- Take meals regularly and at the same time daily. Avoid snacks between meals
- Eat only about the equivalent of two handfuls of food. Fill the stomach half full with food, a quarter with water and leave a quarter empty for the expansion of gases
- Avoid fruit and fruit juice with your meal
- Do not eat late at night
- Use food as medicine. You are what you eat
- Give thanks for your food
Fasting is one of nature’s greatest curative agents. It allows the system to rid itself of the toxins that build up in the body from pollution or unhealthy eating habits. Many people feel intimidated by the idea of fasting, fearing they will become weak and listless. On the contrary, a day’s fast increases vitality and clears the mind. Memory improves and the body feels light and energetic. Overeating is one of the modern world’s greatest problems and fasting allows the digestive organs, the stomach, liver, pancreas, and gall bladder a well-earned rest. In addition, fasting develops will power and increases the power of endurance. Yoga recommends common sense if you do decide to fast. Drink plenty of water and herbal tea. If you feel full of toxins, take a rest while you fast as detoxing can give you a headache and make you tired and irritable; otherwise carry on with your life as normal. One day’s fast a week or every two weeks is quite sufficient, and you should not fast for more than three days without medical supervision.