By Dr. Rita Khanna
It is believed, by many Yoga practitioners, that a Yogi should take milk, fruit, and raw vegetables. However, this is not totally correct because there are certain foods which are not meant for the human body at all. If you analyze the secretions in your digestive tract, and the secretions from your gums, teeth, and saliva, and also, if you examine the strength of the mucus membranes throughout the alimentary tract, and the length of the small and large intestines, and make a comparison with other carnivorous animals, or those animals who live on fruits, you will find there is an absolute difference.
The length of our intestines is proof that the human body should be fed on cooked food alone. The food that Yogic aspirants eat should be cooked, and it must contain condiments and not spices, because condiments contain certain items that are identical to the enzymes inside the body. Condiments include coriander, aniseed, black pepper, green pepper, red pepper, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, and others. All of these are not spices for taste; they are condiments, with properties that are the same as the enzymes inside the body.
How a Yogi’s Diet Differs Depending on the Form of Yoga
The science of diet is definitely related to every system of Yoga, and it differs for different forms of Yoga.
Kundalini Yogi’s Diet
When the phenomenon of Kundalini awakening is taking place in Ajna and Sahasrara Chakras, then the digestive system undergoes a change. It is not able to digest the food properly, or to create hunger. So, what happens when you eat a little food is that the hydrochloric secretions and enzymes are not engaged. Therefore, whatever food you take, the best procedure is that you cook it first, and add the necessary condiments.
Hatha Yogi’s Diet
Though a Hatha Yogi’s diet ideally follows a balance of fresh fruit, vegetables, cooked whole grains, milk, legumes, condiments, nuts and seeds; if you practice Shankhaprakshalana, and then go on eating all these red and black peppers, you are definitely going to suffer. Then you have to make amendments in your diet.
Bhakti Yogi’s & Karma Yogi’s Diet
A Bhakti Yogi’s diet is very free. He can eat and eat. He can take cheese and butter, and all kinds of sweets and confectionery, because the path of Bhakti Yoga does not slow down the digestive processes.
The same diet applies for the Karma Yogi. He can take everything because he is working hard all day. Whether he eats raw food or cooked food, everything will be all right, because in his case, the metabolism is fast, so he does not have to be very careful about diet.
Raja Yogi’s Diet
In Raja Yoga, when you sit for long periods of Meditation, the inner body temperature, which is responsible for digestion, comes down. A heavy diet requires a higher metabolism, and body temperature, for the proper functioning of the digestive process. If the practitioner of Raja Yoga takes to these heavier foods, in the course of time, he will suffer from dyspepsia, high blood pressure, rheumatism, and coronary problems.
Our Inner Body Temperature
When we talk about diet, we must remember only one thing in this case – that is whether the body is capable of digesting all the food. To digest the food you eat, you need five digestive secretions, in proper balance, and you also need a specific group of enzymes. Besides this, you need the correct inner body temperature, which varies in different areas of the body.
From the mouth to the rectum, there are different zones. In the small intestine, a constant temperature is required for a long period of time. In the stomach, you need a higher temperature for a maximum of three hours. If there is a higher temperature for longer than three to four hours, you will develop hyperacidity and stomach ulcers. If you have a reduced temperature in the small intestine, you will have gastric troubles; and if you have a higher temperature in the large intestine, you will have diarrhea, dysentery, or colitis.
Therefore, these temperatures are affected by the prolonged period of Meditation and Sadhana; and if this is part of your daily routine, you will have to adjust your diet. Firstly, your vegetables should be properly boiled, so the low temperature in the body will not disturb your digestion. Secondly, you will need to add something to the vegetables to aid the functioning of the digestive enzymes, and acids, and to thereby, conserve energy.
Some foods, such as papaya, pineapple, and bean sprouts, actually contain enzymes. Coriander, pepper, turmeric, aniseed, cayenne, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, oil, and garlic are all called, digestives, because they help the process of digestion to proceed smoothly. Some allopathic medicines, for indigestion, are actually made out of these substances. Also, there are many herbs which aid digestion. Peppermint, alfalfa, and chamomile are probably the best known.
I have come to the conclusion that a combination of natural and macrobiotic foods is best. I have also discovered that instead of cooking the food in your stomach, it is best to cook it properly in the pan. Five or six digestives should be added to the food while it is cooking. They mix into the food, and the cooking process liberates the enzymes and chemicals which aid digestion. The combination of heat, digestives, and enzymes breaks down the food into smaller and more basic components, thus making it easier to digest and conserve energy.
There is a wonderful food called, integrated Khichari. You can put many things in it, such as wheat, rice, vegetables, and herbs; and it will be all right. This is the cheapest and most satisfying meal I have eaten. There is nothing you can compare it with. It is best for those people who like rice. For those who prefer wheat, there is another way to prepare it, using cracked wheat. This must be boiled until soft, then add the dhal (pulses) and all the vegetables to that, and cook it well. When you eat this Khichari, you must feel free to eat as much as you want, without any fear. This is the diet for a person who is ranging high in spiritual life and is about to merge into the ultimate state.
Correct diet is a help to the spiritual aspirant at any stage. Diet is as important as Yoga; but if you are only concerned with your diet, and are not practicing Yoga, then you are a food fanatic. So, in relation to diet, there is one important point, which you must also remember. Consciousness is above diet.
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Courtesy: Dr. Rita Khanna’s Yogashaastra Studio.
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Dr. Rita Khanna
Dr. Rita Khanna is a well-known name in the field of Yoga and Naturopathy. She was initiated into this discipline over 25 years ago by world famous Swami Adyatmananda of Sivananda Ashram in Rishikesh (India).
She believes firmly that Yoga is a scientific process, which helps us to lead a healthy and disease-free life. She is also actively involved in practicing alternative medicines like Naturopathy. Over the years, she has been successfully practicing these therapies and providing succour to several chronic and terminally ill patients through Yoga, Diet and Naturopathy. She is also imparting Yoga Teachers Training.
At present, Dr. Rita Khanna is running a Yoga Studio in Secunderabad (Hyderabad, India).
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