Saturday, 5 June 2010

Sattvic Food: The Yogic Way of Eating

Since this blog is now committed to sattvic recipes, I thought I'd better explain what exactly sattvic food is.

Often called the yogic diet (although it's not a diet per se, but rather a lifestyle), yogis believe that everything and everyone is made up of 3 qualities (also called the 3 gunas). One of these 3 gunas will be predominant. The 3 gunas are:
  1. Sattva, which is purity (example: an apple)
  2. Raja, which is activity (example: applesauce)
  3. Tamas, which is inactivity (example: apple cider vinegar)

Sattvic food is considered the most pure and wholesome food. Yogis (and by "yogis" I mean those that practice any form of yoga, be it hatha, karma, bhakti or jnana yoga) can benefit greatly by consuming mostly sattvic food. It calms the mind and nourishes the body making it strong. Sattvic food gives the body maximum energy, reducing fatigue and increasing strength. It also allows the vital energy to flow more freely.

Types of sattvic foods include:

  • Fresh fruits
  • Dried fruits
  • Fresh fruit juices
  • Fresh vegetables (best eaten raw or lightly steamed)
  • Legumes
  • Pulses, nuts and seeds
  • Honey, molasses & maple syrup (used as sweeteners)
  • Herbal teas
  • Grains (such as corn, barley, wheat, rice, oats, millet & quinoa)
  • Wholegrain breads
  • Milk, butter, cheese & yogurt (not considered sattvic by me, but the texts do advise to use them in moderation and only organic forms)
  • Food should be eaten in as natural state as possible, which means no pre-packaged foods, canned food and no preservatives or artificial colourings.
  • The texts encourage food to be eaten raw (YAY!), steamed or lightly cooked

Rajasic foods, on the other hand, are spicy, bitter, sour or salty. This kind of food overstimulates the mind, what is often referred to as "monkey mind". It makes body & mind over active, restless and unable to focus in concentration. Eating rajasic food will disturb the mind-body balance.

Types of rajasic foods includes:

  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Radishes
  • Hot spices
  • Pungent herbs
  • Coffee and caffeinated teas
  • Chocolate
  • Salty foods
  • White sugar
  • Soft drinks (sodas)
  • Prepared mustards
  • Eating sattvic food in a hurry is also considered rajasic

Lastly, tamasic food withdraws the body's energy, leaving the body inactive, lazy and dull. The mind is clouded and a general sense of inertia is experienced.

Types of tamasic foods include:
  • Mushrooms
  • Meat, fish & eggs
  • Fermented foods (such as vinegar)
  • Alcohol, tobacco & drugs
  • Stale, overripe or unclean foods
  • Food that has been burned, fried, barbecued or reheated
  • Canned, processed and pre-packaged foods
  • Eating too much sattvic food is also considered tamasic

It's important to remember that each individual must find their own balance of sattva, rajas and tamas. I'm taking a course next week, so I've chosen to eat only sattvic food to prepare for my spiritual journey in June. If you eat a mushroom here or there or BBQ up some fresh veggies for a family gathering, don't sweat it! When your diet is balanced, you'll soon find your body and mind follow.

Any questions ...?


Raul said...

Nice summary of what "sattvic" food is. I try to eat sattvic as well. It's not always easy, but it helps for meditation. Nice blog.

Anonymous said...

I have stumbled on your blog in my search for garlic and onion free recipes, which I am super excited to try every single one I see here. What started as an allergy discovery has since turned into a good long look at everything I let in, food, thoughts, activities... each discovery leading me closer and closer to a sattvic diet, and the yogi lifestyle in general. I feel almost as if it is not a choice I am making, but a necessity for my own sanity. :) Anyway, I'm not sure why, and it could be over-share, but I was ecstatic to find your blog and to know there are people out there coming to the same conclusions I am, however the means.

Angel said...

Hi Missloo! YAY another like minded sattvic yogi!! I've found that eating a raw vegan sattvic diet gives me energy and allows me to live to my fullest potential (which is as you say a necessity for sanity!!) Thank you so much for your kind comments. Please let me know what you think if you try any of the recipes here. OM & Prem.

Jason Beam said...

This is a really awesome blog, with absolute quick and key info that helped me greatly as an aspiring Kriya Yogi.
I would say that why you consider milk and cheese NOT to be sattvic is because it is homogenized and pasteurized, and hence is so cooked and alterated it is unregonizable to the human body. Pure, raw milk, is, I believe, to be what the scriptures are advising, as pasteurization has only been going on for what, 60 years or so?
Many blessings to you, Angel, you show divine intelligence supreme.
OM, Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.

Angel said...

Hi Jason, so glad you liked the blog and thank you for your blessed comment.

Raw milk isn't available here (actually I think it's illegal), so I haven't tried it. For me, I try to eat mostly food that's grown in the sun, which is our greatest source of prana. So milk and other dairy products don't really fit into that since its a product of an animal that eats food grown in the sun.

Hope you are doing well in the Kriyas

Om & Prem

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