[Photo Credit: "Vegetarian Curry" by GracinhaMarco Abundo - Vegetarian Curry. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons]
Yogic doctrine complements Ayurveda when it comes to establishing foods that affect the human body and its performance. For instance, Ayurveda gives an insight on how certain foods are more beneficial for us and can affect an individual’s physical health, mental well bring as well as spiritual strength. Based on this, Ayurveda distinguishes between three types of dietary patterns among which a Sattvic diet is the most beneficial.
By itself sattva is the quality of spiritual goodness and equanimity which is projected as an awareness, intelligence, virtue and joy. Hence, sattvic foods are foods which are soothing and nourishing while promoting a calm, steady mind and an ability to boost intellect giving individuals a sense of understanding. These food choices promote purity of both the mind as well as the body.
Based on this inherent nature, sattvic foods are those foods that are vegetarian and come from natural sources that do not involve harming any animals. At the same time it is very important that these foods are grown naturally and that there are no artificial components included like preservatives, flavors or additives.
Typically a sattvic diet contains foods which include plenty of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, whole grains and nuts, and natural dairy products that have not been manufactured by processing or refining. Likewise a sattvic diet also includes other natural food sources like beans and lentils, plant based oils as well as naturally sweet foods like honey.
But the dictates of a sattvic diet do not end with the choice of foods only. Instead the process also involves preparing the meal as well as eating rituals. For instance, food preparation requires careful consideration in the sense that the person preparing the food should also be in a calm state of mind when cooking the meal. Food should ideally be prepared with love and consideration so that this positive energy is channelled into the meal being prepared.
The quality of the food is therefore enhanced by the attention the individual gives to the cooking process such as the way they cut the vegetables, grind the spices and add ingredients to the dish. It is believed that the more focus and attention is put into the preparation of the meal, the better its benefits and the better it will stimulate the body and mind.
Likewise the sattvic way of eating also establishing practices where the food is chewed properly and eaten slowly, allowing it to be pulverised completely before it enters the digestive system. Ideally, it is recommended that only half of the stomach’s capacity should be filled with food with another quarter percent being nourished by water and the remaining quarter percent kept empty to assist in proper digestion and processing of foods. Eating everything in moderation is also another sattvic dietary observation.
Being the purest form of diet, the sattvic way of eating is recommended for serious yoga enthusiasts. Not only does it calm the mind and body but can also provide the winning combination to enhance yoga practice with the right foods.
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