So, some of you who are my friends will know that I am doing yoga teacher training this autumn (eeek, so excited!) While time is short, here are some pearls of wisdom from the Ancient East that belong here on Loving Leaves. See if you can spot anything that may be familiar. By which I am not claiming to be a sage…just that true principles in a wide sense will always be found across all cultures, though of course there will be nuances and differences in interpretation.
Yogic philosophy says there are three main constituents of nature:
Sattva (Creation) embodying purity and light
Rajas (preservation) Energy, passion, movement
Tamas (destruction) Inertia, heaviness, laziness
All foods and drinks fall into one of these categories. While there are some differences in opinion, which I will point out, a summary might be as follows
SATTVIC foods are foods which lead to enlightenment (not in isolation- but that they are an aid to spiritual awakening with other practices and attitudes) They are conducive to a calm mind, open and able to receive light from the Divine. These are clean water, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and pulses, and dairy. (I part company on them over the dairy. However, I will say that the dairy products we eat may bear little resemblance to the way it was consumed in those times…likewise the quantities)
RAJASIC foods are foods that stimulate. They inhibit a steady, clear-thinking mind, and they arouse animal passions. Among these are heavily spiced foods, fried foods, and nowadays there are plenty of “foods” that did not even exist at the time yogic texts were written, but also fall into this category: sugary foods, processed foods, heavily caffeinated drinks etc
TAMASIC foods make us feel sluggish, heavy, sleepy, lazy. This includes meats and fish, alcohol, and over-ripe food.
Some foods are rajasic (stimulating) but shortly after become tamasic – sugar, and alcohol are both good examples of this.
Not only do Sattvic foods help to elevate our consciousness (I absolutely believe this, as you know if you read this blog regularly) but they also happen to be the foods that nurture, protect against illness and are full of immune-strengthening properties. What a happy “coincidence” for our body, mind and spirit. 🙂
Sattvic foods are also in harmony with the yogic principle of AHIMSA (non-violence), though again, I would not say the dairy industry falls into that category. At all. However…if you wish to live increasingly in harmony with the principle of non-violence, but do not wish (yet?) to eliminate these things entirely, you can still reduce the quantity of animal products you eat, source more ethically, etc etc
While you may disagree on this, or that…I think you see what I am trying to put over here.
And on that note, brief though it has been,