This is not a regular nutrition article because I cannot tell you what THE only yogic diet is. The question to ask when it comes to diet really is: is it balanced and is it the right diet for you?
When we call something yogic it implies that it is satvic (balanced) or something that would be uplifting for your consciousness and for the good of all. That would be yogic, whether it be with food, exercise, thinking, eating, acting, working, etc. So there are many practical tips and applications for right diet and lord knows I’ve tried many of them, ranging from all raw diet to all cooked foods and everything in between.
I was raised 80% vegetarian with mostly whole grains, fruits & vegetables and beans or lentils with occasional fish or foul as the main source of our diet. As I matured like any well meaning young adult I ventured into the world of eating whatever was convenient and available. At that time in my life (mid 20’s) I started to notice I was feeling sluggish, had brain fog mid day and often needed to take naps. I knew something in my lifestyle wasn’t working and it had to do with food.
I was introduced to “raw” food by my friend Wade Lightheart, a nutritionist and trainer in Vancouver, Canada. He had recently placed 5th in the Universal Natural body building championships and his claim to fame was that he was Vegan and mostly entirely on raw uncooked foods. His research led him to discover that raw, organically grown foods and proteins such as hemp carried high amount of beneficial enzymes and were more rich in protein and nutrition and life force (prana) than animal byproducts so commonly used by body builders. He explained that animal by-products weigh heavily on the system using more of the body’s energy to digest and using more enzymes that the body needs to maintain its health. He wanted to be sure that when he was eating, it was living food and not the kind that moo’s.
So this was a guy I respected, he was feeling good, looking good and was 100% raw. So what did I do? I became raw. Over time, I began to feel amazing as the naps disappeared. I felt so clean and clear within my own body and my skin and hair radiated it. I was getting comments left right and center. But then after time what happened? I crashed. Emotionally and physically after about 8 months on only raw, the energy was just too much for my body to handle. I was like a hummingbird on six espressos. I needed grounding. I needed more cooked foods. But which ones?
So as time passed I heard about Ayurveda, a science that is over 5,000 years old and ties in closely with yoga and the Vedic philosophy. The Ayruveda system states that we all have a predominant body type or dosha which comprises our physical vehicle; the body’s make up. The elements in our body are predominantly earth, air, and fire. Each of us has all three but usually we lean stronger towards one or two of the elements. The doshas or body types are pitta (fire), vata (air), or kapha (earth).
(Pitta)Fire qualities: intense, hot, active, focused, driven, confrontative, active.
(Vata) Air: airy, fast moving, dry, scattered at times, light, fast acting, flighty, distressed, creative, open.
(Kapha) Earth People: grounded, round, soft, slow, sluggish, committed, un-moving, slow to anger, comforting, healing etc.
Each of these body types commands a certain diet or lifestyle to keep the doshas (body types) functioning at optimum level. In Vata (air) warm, cooked, oily foods are helpful to lubricate the naturally dry and overactive body and mind. Too much dry foods like crackers or cold foods, like too much raw, will put the air element out of balance in someone with this predominant Dosha. So for me to have 100% raw was a disaster waiting to happen. The hummingbird was high on cacao beans and crashed. A person who is pitta (fire) who eats too many hot or spicy foods can be aggravated physically and emotionally, while eating more cooling foods like salads and raw would be more beneficial. When there is an imbalance in the predominant Dosha that is when we develop illness or sickness of the body and mind. Now this is a definite science, not some flaky new age info. Ayruveda is a systematically scientifically designed system with thousands of years of observation and results. There are trained doctors around the world including a clinic right here in Manila, Shanti Ayurveda.
So finding out your body type is the first step to finding out how you personally need to eat and you can take a very simple test online or from any book on Ayurveda. If you have an Ayurvedic doctor perform a test on you he/she will be able to tell you what foods to eat and what foods are best to avoid for your body type. Finding the balance: too much of a good thing can be equally destructive as not having enough.
So here we’ve visited both ends of the spectrum with an all raw foods diet and a mostly cooked diet according to Ayurveda. I’ve found my own personal balance and for me my preferred diet is lightly cooked veggies, brown rice or quinoa, soaked lentils or cooked beans in soups, lots of fresh organic salads, fruits, nuts, plenty of water and my favorite raw food desserts. The best and simplest dessert is substituting frozen coconut or banana as an ice cream base for a healthier alternative to pasteurized dairy ice-creams. (Search raw food ice cream recipes) Natural sweeteners such as coco nectar, muscavado, honey and stevia are great calorie free healthy options to sugar and are much more friendly on the body. And Green smoothies can be an excellent substitute to get one’s daily greens. All of us lead busy lives so finding little shortcuts like prepping your smoothie first thing in the morning and taking it on the go. I like to use fresh greens or a green powder mixed with coconut water, banana or mango and some chia seeds. The greens can be anything from cancon to camote tops to kale or whatever is available locally. This is a great way to eat your greens and enjoy it too.
So that’s my two cents on diet, take it or leave it. I certainly can answer any questions you have directly or please send us your feedback or tips. Thanks for reading and happy eating.
by Clarity West
Clarity West is a yoga/meditation student/teacher residing in Metro Manila. Originally from Vancouver, Canada she co-owned a raw vegan restaurant called Eternal Abundance with her partner. She is an avid health foodie and loves to practice what she preaches. On the side she creates art pieces and works with children in the painting arena. You can find her on the beach or in Palawan recently at Bahay Kalipay, a raw food healing center.