Yoga Diet vs. Ayurvedic Diet: Which one is for me?
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Yoga Diet vs. Ayurvedic Diet: Which one is for me?

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Yoga Diet vs. Ayurvedic Diet: Which one is for me?

As many of you know Ayurveda has its roots in India 🇮🇳 the land of Milk 🥛 Honey 🍯 and Holy Ghee!

In India, Ayurveda and Yoga are sister practices, and as Yoga made its way to the states they became a strayed.

Currently they are being reunited and more and more of us are interested in the lifestyle practices that support our wellbeing off the mat, FINALLY!


One of the things I love so much about the Ayurveda discipline is that it is not universally prescriptive or trendy. The answer to any and every question is ALWAYS, “It depends.” Anyone who studies or practices  Ayurveda is privy to this inside joke.


A shared pillar between the two practices, is referencing the moment we are in to navigate an asana, a food choice, or life in the now.

Here’s a quick overview!

Yogic Diet:

  • Is based on the principal of Ahimsa, non harm.
  • Is primarily a Sattvic diet, one that promotes a calm, clear, peaceful mind-body.
  • Vegetarian diet. No meat, processed, frozen or microwaved foods.
  • Elimination or reduction of stimulating foods like onions, garlic, mushrooms, chilis and alcohol as well as  dull, heavy, leftovers foods.
  • Includes local, seasonal, fresh fruits, vegetables, and grains.
  • Includes a raw foods that are easy to digest and aid in detoxification.
  • Favors foods that are high in the Vata elements of air and space (i.e fruits, leafy greens, beans etc).
  • Includes a regular practice of fasting and seasonal cleansing to maintain lightness and clarity.

Ayurvedic Diet:

  • Eating is specific to balancing the Doshas and digestive fire, the Agni.
  • Favors eating in accordance with your specific Dosha (Prakriti) and your current imbalance (Vikriti).
  • Is Sattvic in nature.
  • Changes is relative to the season or routine and any current mental or physical imbalance.
  • Privilege mostly warm, cooked foods that are intentenally spiced to aid digestion.
  • Foods that increase the subtle essence of Ojas, which is responsible for vitality and immunity and the building of new tissues.
  • Eating in a calm environment free of distractions and insolence if possible.
  • Eating with your hands and preparing your own foods.
  • No snacking is recommended for all three Doshas to give the digestive system proper rest and keep the Agni functioning at its best.
  • Food eaten within specific time frames of the day in harmony with daily rhythm.
  • Includes a regular practice of fasting and seasonal cleansing to maintain lightness and clarity.

Yoga vs. Ayurveda: What do I eat?


Among common practice these days, is the choice to be Vegan, Vegetarian, Pescatarian, Meat eater etc.


Then we have Keto, Gluten free, Dairy free or like me, you just eat other peoples cheese;) I can not keep it in the house, as it disappears like a much needed vacation. P.S. Goat cheese is much easier on the digestive system for all Doshas, raw, local and small batch would be the dreamiest of combinations.


Then their is the Raw peeps, and the ever evolving approaches grow as I share this.


How do you even know what to choose anymore? I suggest we refine the practice of turning IN instead of OUT. At best we reference our internal experience, not theory, not trend.

This is practical approach that puts our health and wellbeing back in our hands as opposed to outsourcing it.


This practice of reflecting on Self in a curious, nonjudgmental way is called Svadhyaya. It is the fourth Niyama of the Yoga Sutras and a necessary practice for those on the spiritual path who are genuinely interested in awakening.

It is a foundational to Yoga and Ayurveda and is the ultimate prescription for a healthy relationship with Self and others.

Interesting enough Yoga and Ayurveda hold very different perspectives on the approach to meat eating, dairy consumption and diet in general.

The main precept of Yoga is Ahimsa, non-harm. It is the first of the five Yamas and the foundational tenet for healthy relations with self and other. Easy to deduce why Vegetarianism would be practiced under this main pillar.

However, Ayurveda does not take the same stance. In fact there are multiple chapters in one of the main Ayurvedic text, the Charaka Samhita that unpack the different qualities and benefits of different animal proteins and their effects on different constitutional make-ups, doshas.


Unlike the standard USDA model here in the States that tracks fats, carbs, proteins and fiber etc. Ayurveda is interested mainly in the qualities of the food and the effects on ones Prakriti and Vikriti. Again and again, Rule #1 is our pole star, likes irritate and opposites balance. Other interest include organic, local, seasonal, the how the food was prepared and the state of ones being while injusting.

 

For example a birds meat will contain different characteristics and energy than a pigs meat, and a flying bird like Quail has dramatically different characteristics and qualities than a ground dwelling bird like a Chicken.

 

But consider, even if you have quality grown vegetables or meat, if it’s traveled the distance to get to your plate or someone has prepared it with an underlying anger in their being, that that would undoubtedly influence the quality of nutrients.

 

You can likely conclude that somebody like me who is predominantly Kapha Dosha, which is Earth+Water may thrive on a vegetarian diet where my Vata friends, dominant in Ether+Air tend to feel most alive on a diet that includes animal protein,  this would help to ground and maintain healthy a weight which can be a challenge for Vatas, especially given we all live in a Vata world.


I could go on and on and on (and on….) about the effects and differences between pasteurized and unpasteurized dairy, the rise of modern gluten sensitivities and the relationship to GMO’s, but I’ll leave that for another day.

Practicing Ayurveda may initially seem complex and yet it is quite simple if you reference your interior experience!

Many philosophers and yogis along the way have contemplated and wisely concluded that to study the self, is to come to know all things.

 

Study yourself, trust yourself, and simply do you!

 

I know this can be a highly opinionated subject that brings up a lot of controversy. I look forward to your comments.