Food - the first pillar of yoga HealthYoga Kingston

Where does your yoga practice start?

Where does your Yoga practice start?

People ask me where yoga starts. In Classical Yoga you start yoga practice by observing the life pillars that are:

  1. Ahara / FOOD
  2. Vihara / RECREATION
  3. Achara / ROUTINES
  4. Vichara / THOUGHTS

Food – the first pillar of yoga

Let’s think about ourselves in terms of energy, and where is this energy coming from?

Food is nothing else than energy, (Prana). It is the first pillar in yoga to be aware of. Food is a source of energy that was touched by the sun, air, water, and earth. As your body depends on this living energy your strength, health, concentration, happiness depends on what kind of food you put in your stomach and how the stomach digests it. By starting to practice body awareness you learn more about your digestion and how you feel before eating, during eating and after eating.

Do you eat more foods that were created and invented by the man’s “intelligent mind”, or do you it foods that were created by nature? You want to stay in touch on a daily basis with the choices you make regarding food.  Here is good to remember that all highly processed foods have a commercial purpose. They enhance your taste buds and this way you keep buying them. It is very much necessary for your own health benefit to take a break from using highly processed foods. This way your mind forgets the stimulative taste, and you easily can give up on them.You want to be aware how these foods get on your dinner table. Who is the provider of such foods? Why there is a craving for such foods?

In Yoga foods are classified according to the effect they have on the body and mind, and not into superfoods, proteins, carbohydrates or fats. There are three types of foods– sattvic, rajasic and tamasic.

  1. SATTVIC FOOD – Food that doesn’t solicit internal organs at maximum; are light, easy to digest and cleanse the body from impurities. Sattvic foods are those which purify the body and calm the mind. Is the kind of food which makes you feel light, energetic and enthusiastic. Vegetables, legumes, fruits, seasonal foods, honey, … Sattvic herbs are; ashwagandha, bacopa, calamus, gotu kola, ginkgo,  jatamansi, saffron, tulsi, rose.
  2. RAJASIC FOOD – Foods that activates and solicits internal organs, and are not easy to be digested. They stimulate the body and mind into action. In excess, these foods can cause hyperactivity, restlessness, anger, irritability, and sleeplessness.

Rajasic foods should be eaten in moderation, or occasionally. You really have to know your digestive fire, health, and temperament when you use them. For example, if you are hyper-energetic, this means that you will cut on foods that over stimulate your energy as they will make you more hyper. Or if you are feeling lethargic and dull you will use a necessary quantity of these foods to help you to balance the energy. Your body can ask for these foods when it needs a higher amount of energy. For example, during the fall or winter seasons.They include very hot spices, hot chili, red pepper, salt, sugar, bitter, sour, pungent, gaseous foods, red meat, eggs, soybeans, all the beans when not sprouted, onion, garlic, coffee, cocoa, tea, wine, chocolate…

  1. TAMASIC FOOD – Heavy foods that require more energy from the body to be digested. Food which makes us lethargic or sluggish, dull the mind and bring about inertia. These foods are necessary for less quantity and avoid them if you are struggling with your health. Pizza, cheese, donuts, french fries, cheeps, all processed foods…

All foods have to be used in moderation to create a body-mind balance.
Nurture your body with foods that support your vital-energy. ( Apana Vayu)

“When diet is wrong medicine is of no use.
When diet is correct medicine is of no need.”

~Ayurvedic Proverb~



HealthYoga Therapist, Teacher, and Student,