Most people at some point in their lives try yoga classes. Whether it’s done through a yoga retreat in some remote and exotic place, or by taking a class at the local gym around the corner. It is quite likely that while doing so, one enjoys the relaxation and the workout sweat as well. What is usually left out from the picture is the deeper aspects of such practice with regards to the consequences of our actions, social interactions, attitude towards life and eating habits.
In most western countries, more focus is directed towards the Asana aspect of Yoga which is what gives us the workout we want but that’s not the whole picture. Every once in a while, we come across all these new trends popping up that make us scratch our heads as well. The list is long but Weed Yoga, Beer Yoga, Goat Yoga and Hot Yoga are among the ones that stands out. Long story short, Asana forms the 8 tenets of yoga practice:
- Yama – Behavioral restrains
- Niyama – Spiritual observations
- Asana – Posture practice
- Pranayama – Breathing Techniques
- Pratyahara – Detachment from the senses and focus on higher levels of consciousness
- Dharana – Single Mindedness
- Samadhi – Intense Concentration
According to Pantajali’s famous “The Yoga Sutras” which is dubbed to be the ultimate yoga bible by some, these 8 foundations are the main tenets of yoga. Yoga is also explained as the reunion of the mind, physical body and soul. If practiced fully, one can reach enlightenment through abiding by the mentioned principles. So, what does this and other ancient yogic literature teach us about our eating habits and way of life? In order to delve deeper, we need to first understand what are the basic 5 Yamas:
- Ahimsa – Peaceful thoughts
- Satya – Living truthfully
- Asteya – Avoiding theft, oppression and cruelty
- Brahmacarya – Restraint on desires
- Aparigraha – Detachment
The Yamas are universal set of laws that regardless of nationality, race, age and social status. If practice fully, they can simply bring good to our lives. Going back to the argument around veganism, since Ahisma forbid any misdemeanor towards any living being, one can surmise that in order to be a true practicing Yogi, one has to opt for vegetarianism. Ahisma means that we have to be compassionate and loving towards all living things and consumption of food or products that harmed or killed sentient beings to be produced is not according to what ahisma teaches us, even though the texts mostly won’t directly forbid us to consume dairy, eggs or meat which aims to give an individual freedom of choice.
Tamasic , Sattvic, and Food Rajasic
Famous Yogic writer, Bhagavid Gita, teaches us to have empathy and compassion toward all living things. He also points out that there are three types of food: Tamasic food which is spoiled or rotten food, Sattcic food which is pure and full of energy and rajasic which is considered stimulating food products.
“Men who are pure like food which is pure: which gives heath, mental power, strength and long life, which has taste, is soothing and nourishing, and which makes glad the heart of man.
Men of Rajas like food of Rajas: acid and sharp, and salty and dry, and which brings heaviness and sickness and pain.
Men of darkness eat food which is stale and tasteless, which is rotten and left overnight, impure, unfit for holy offerings.”
Grains, beans, vegetables and fruits are listed to be among the pure foods which bring energy, health and a relaxed state of mind. All types of meat, spices, alcohol and drugs are believed to cause disorders to the energy system and physical body so It is advised that we avoid them. Aged or smoked meat is also among the foods considered to be tamasic and consuming them is not advised. If we decide not to adopt our eating habits to these teachings, then what lies ahead is what the eastern traditions call Karma, the law of cause and effect. If our food is filled with pain and suffering of living beings, we need to understand that it would bring undesirable consequences to our lives but physically, mentally and spiritually.
At Orion Healing, we call ourselves the most transformative healing centre in Thailand for good reasons. Our detox programs and Yoga retreats not only helps you pick up the right lifestyle, eating habits and of course knowledge of Yoga but it also helps you understand why we need to be karma conscious at every moment of our lives in order for the universe to send us bliss and happiness in return. If you ever visit Koh Phangan, a beautiful island in the south of Thailand and have a chance to taste the food we serve at our Vegan Café, you will realise that healthy and pure food can also be tasty!