Yogis always have a satisfied smile on their lips, radiate inner peace and balance and never seem to be under stress. We can only look enviously at the yoga mat next to us and ask ourselves what is its secret. You may also practice yoga regularly, but you just can’t bring the peace and serenity of the yoga class into your daily life.
Not yet! Because in the following we will tell you how to get body and mind in perfect harmony with Yoga and the right Yoga nutrition.
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What many don’t know: Yoga is a way of life, much more than a few contortions on the mat. This also includes the right yoga nutrition. Food makes you happy – this also applies to yogic nutrition. At least if you eat the right food. Because there are certain foods that are good for our body and others that are more likely to harm it. Yogis pay close attention to your body, even when eating.
However, they are not primarily concerned with losing weight, for example, but with how the right diet – in combination with yoga exercises – can create less stress and more inner satisfaction.
The 3 Gunas of Yoga nutrition: Sattva, Tamas and Rajas
The three gunas are called “forces of nature”: Sattva (also Sattwa), Tamas and Rajas. They can be found in basically every area of life – including nutrition. The background: Every food has a very specific effect on our body and also on the mind – both positive and negative.
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After the meal you should feel balanced and full of energy. Then both the “what” and the “how much” is right. The whole thing is called “Sattva” in Yoga nutrition, which means “lightness” or “harmony”.
Yoga and nutrition go hand in hand © fizkes / Shutterstock.com
If instead you are plagued by a feeling of fullness, tiredness, stomach ache or flatulence after eating, the food you have eaten was rather unsuitable for you and probably belongs to the category “Tamas” (laziness) or “Rajas” (restlessness). Rajas food, such as coffee, overly spicy food or sugar, for example, makes the body and mind restless and should be reduced in everyday life. Tamasic food in turn drains our energy and makes us weak and lethargic – physically as well as mentally.
In yoga nutrition this includes meat and alcohol, for example, but also tobacco and, of course, other drugs. Even those who generally eat too much become lazy.
Udo Einenkel, himself a passionate yogi, cook and health advisor, explains how to combine yoga and nutrition and get the best out of it for himself and his body in his book “Das Yoga Kochbuch” (Christian Verlag, for 30 Euros). These 8 nutrition tips should be learned from yogis:
1. develop more awareness of food
Basic rule no. 1 for yogis: Develop more awareness of your own body. “There is only one path of nourishment that is good for everyone, and that is the path of mindfulness,” Einenkel writes in his book. But DIE However, there is no such thing as a non-plus-ultra nutritional strategy in yoga. In yoga nutrition there are also no strict guidelines on how many proteins, carbohydrates etc. you need daily. Every organism has different, individual needs that need to be found out.
Your body already knows what and how much is good for it. Recognizing this is the first step and at the same time the biggest challenge in yoga nutrition.
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2. do not heat food (too much)
Yogis swear to heat as little food as possible and to enjoy it raw instead. The meaning behind this: Temperatures above 43°C cause many nutrients to be lost, enzyme activity drops to zero and the structure of the protein changes.
Body and mind in harmony: That’s what makes yogis so relaxed © fizkes / Shutterstock.com
To sum up: The life in food is extinguished. Nevertheless, liveliness is a quality feature that distinguishes fresh food, explains the yoga chef. Your body benefits from this. If you now think that yogis only nibble on raw food sticks all day long, you are wrong, because enjoyment must not be allowed to fall by the wayside with yogic nutrition.
Instead of cooking the food, fruits and vegetables are dried at low temperature, marinated or pickled with oil and spices, for example, and cereals are soaked. Suitable recipes for this can be found, for example, in Yoga cookbook by Udo Einenkel.
3. eat less meat
Strictly speaking, yogis completely eliminate meat from their diet. The reason for this is ‘Ahimsa’, which means non-violence, according to yoga expert Einenkel. This is about peaceful interaction with others, both humans and animals. It is quite obvious that the slaughter process leads to a moral conflict. But you don’t have to reduce your meat consumption to zero right now. Rather, this point of the Yoga Nutrition Teaching is about a more conscious approach.
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Where does the meat come from? Under what conditions were the animals kept? Start to think about this and pay attention to good quality. Less is more in this case. Instead of eating meat several times a week, treat yourself to a really good organic steak every now and then.
4. refrain from industrially processed food
Industrially processed foods really have nothing more to do with “natural” and “fresh”. During production, food is usually heated up a lot, losing not only nutrients but also taste. The industry often tries to iron this out with a colourful chemical cocktail of additives, flavour enhancers and sweeteners. An artificial mixture that additionally provides heaps of calories, fat and sugar.
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But not only in finished products are these three figure killers an absolute no-go. They are also on the hit list as individual products. Decisive for yogis is the added value for their body. And you can look for this in industrially processed products for a long time. Tip: Use honey instead of sugar for sweetening, use healthy vegetable oils such as rapeseed, linseed or olive oil for fats, and best of all ban finished products from your pantry. Keyword: Clean Eating.
5. use regional organic products in the yogi kitchen
This kills two birds with one stone: in order to be allowed to carry the state organic label, the food must meet a whole range of requirements.
Fresh fruit and vegetables are a must in the yoga kitchen © Foxys Forest Manufacture / Shutterstock.com
Pesticides, genetically manipulated seeds and mineral fertilisers are prohibited. This ensures that no chemicals end up in the food and that the nutrient content remains as high as possible. The same applies to the soil. Soil also benefits from organic cultivation so that it can supply the next plant seedlings in the best possible way. At the same time you also do something good for the environment. Long transport routes are also eliminated for regional products.
In this way, yogic nutrition helps to promote sustainable production conditions, writes Udo Einenkel.
Tip: Shop more often at the weekly market, try out new types of fruit and vegetables and find a butcher you trust. And no, the “fresh produce counter” in the supermarket is not one of them.
6. give your body time to digest
Digesting a meal is a competitive sport for your body. Before it can do anything with it, it has to break everything down into its individual parts. This happens mostly in the intestines. The pancreas produces the necessary digestive juices. These contain enzymes that break down food into its basic building blocks. In addition, the pancreas produces insulin, which regulates the blood sugar level. If food were constantly being produced, it would work around the clock.
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This is not only exhausting, but would also mean that fat deposits are never touched. Reserves are only exhausted when there is no food left. So that the pancreas can breathe deeply in between meals, yogis take care to take a break of about four hours between meals, says Udo Einenkel. And to cut a good figure in the tight-fitting yoga pants, this is certainly also helpful.
7. consciously enjoy each meal
Food should not only serve the purpose of food intake. Take your time and enjoy your meals consciously. Perhaps you will begin to perceive the different tastes more clearly.
Take time – even for eating: A principle of yoga nutrition © fizkes / Shutterstock.com
Chew well and do not gulp. Try to think of it as time out, as time to replenish your energy stores. The whole thing can then take a while and has another advantage: the feeling of fullness only sets in after about 20 minutes. Consumption of smaller portions will also make you feel full and save a few calories. For yogis, frugality is a commandment that also applies to food. But there is one thing that should not be left by the wayside and that is the joy of eating.
Book tip for newcomers to yoga nutrition: The Yogi Method – 30 Days Challenge on Mindfulness Nutrition by Marcel Anders-Hoepgen (published by systemed, for 20 Euro)
8. feasting allowed: don’t forbid yourself everything
Prohibitions are the absolute happiness killer and therefore strictly forbidden for yogis. Food is something beautiful, balm for the soul and therefore every meal is a gift to your body. Enjoy to your heart’s content, author Udo Einenkel suggests. But be careful, you should not see this as a free ticket for the next feast. Remember: after eating you should still feel balanced. Full but not stuffed. And above all happy.
You will see that with these nutritional tips from and for yogis, you will also get some of the positive yoga vibes. A small, satisfied smile after a delicious meal is the first step in the right direction.