The world is energy, and energy affects energy. This very principal is why yogis pay special attention to their diet. Yogis break food down into three categories: rajasic, tamasic, and satvic. The categories describe the effect that that particular food has upon the mind and body when ingested. As a result, according to the yogi, one can tell a lot about the temperament of a person based upon the foods that they prefer.
Rajasic foods make the mind overactive. They create sensuality, sexuality, greed, jealousy, anger, delusion, fantasies, egotism and irreligious feelings. They tend to be bitter, sour, salty, pungent, hot and dry. A rajasic person tends to desire a variety of foods to satisfy his/her palate. Examples of rajasic foods are pungent condiments, meat, fish, eggs, sweets, fried bread, curd, egg plant, carrots, onions, garlic, lemon, tea, coffee, and tobacco.
Tamasic foods on the other hand make the mind sluggish, they rob the mind and body of energy. They increase pessimism, ignorance, lack of common sense, greed, laziness, criminal tendencies and doubt. Tamasic foods tend to be stale, dry, bad smelling, distasteful or unpalatable, overripe, or rotting. The tamasic person will eat food which has been cooked a day and a half ago and also will like the food which is half-cooked or burnt. Examples of tamasic foods are foods that have been processed, canned or frozen. Wine and cheeses are also tamasic. Swiss cheese is an especially good example of a tamasic food. High-smelling, swiss cheese is made by allowing bacteria to decay or rot the food creating the trademark holes.
Satvic foods keep the mind balanced. They increase the energy of the mind and produce cheerfulness, serenity and mental clarity. They are highly conducive to good health. Satvic foods are fresh, juicy, light, oily, nourishing, sweet and tasty. A satvic person relishes juicy food and other foods which are attractive in form, soft to touch and pleasant to taste, which are small in bulk but great in nourishment. Milk (from well-treated animals), butter, ghee (clarified butter), fresh ripe fruits, almonds, dates, sprouts, barley, wheat, cereals, tomatoes, plantains etc., are satvic foods.
The traditional yogic diet is based upon satvic foods: quality foods, not overly spiced or overly processed. The traditional yogic diet is also strictly vegetarian to follow the rule of Ahimsa or nonviolence. Again, the world is energy, and energy affects energy. No animal gives it’s life willingly. While being slaughtered, it will fight against you. It’s body and energy registers this struggle.
From a physical point of view, the adrenaline, cortisol, and other toxins released into the animal’s flesh during fight or flight remain in the flesh as death brings a shut down of the body’s circulatory and detoxification processes. That is what we then ingest when we eat their flesh. That is the state that we then induce upon ourselves. As a result, the traditional yogic diet consists of as many plant foods as possible that can be taken without killing the plants themselves. This then means living in greater harmony with the world’s ecology, living off of an essentially renewable resource. And in a world quickly depleting it’s resources, this makes more than just yogic sense.
Kavita Maharaj is the owner and operator of Red Door Yoga. She can be reached at 604-751-1458 or go to www.reddooryogacanada.com for questions.