YOGA AND VEGETARIANISM
I have been asked questions about vegetarianism in relation to yoga by a few people now, so I will try, in my own words and thoughts, to explain how they are related:
But first, lets remember two things.
First, that at the end of the day, Yoga is a practice of the Mind to achieve a state of ultimate health and happiness, and second, that classical Yoga (or Ashtanga Yoga), according to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, consists of eight sections, or “limbs”, with the practice of postures just being one of them. In order to achieve Yoga’s ultimate goal, all of them should be observed:
There are 5 guidelines that, when observed at all times, will keep our relationship with the world harmonious and our mind clear of negativity. They are:
2. Niyamas (Personal restraints)
These are 5 guidelines that, when observed at all times, will keep ourselves physically, mentally and spiritually healthy. They are:
The regular (ideally daily) practice of Yoga postures in order to keep the body healthy and in good shape.
4. Pranayama (Breath control)The practice of breathing techniques in order to balance the prana (vital energy) in our bodys, increase our energy and calm the nervous system.
5. Pratyahara (Sense Withdrawal)
The practice of withdrawing our senses into the mind, going inward, and relaxing the mind while being fully conscious.
6. Dharana (Concentration)
The practice of focusing the mind on one particular object to achieve a one-pointed, laser like mind, creating a pre-stage of meditation, which “cuts” through the veil of our mind and allows the higher intelligence to awaken. Usually this lasts only for a short time.
7. Dyana (Meditation)
When Dharana is practiced regularly, concentration improves and the mind opens. The prolonged state of concentration is Meditation.
8. Samadhi (the final joining together of the mind to our true self)
This is the final state of “awakening”, where we feel bliss because we have found our true self. We no longer identify with our ego or emotions, but with our true self, which is continuously happy. Enlightenment.
So, back to the question...
If we read through the Yamas and Niyamas again, with the question of diet in mind....
So although, there is no prescribed formula that says “you have to be vegetarian” - it is certainly left to each individual to contemplate and find their own truth - most serious Yoga practitioners find no good reason to keep eating meat or even any animal products and revert to a vegetarian diet, which many find to be conducive to their daily practice.
Another perspective that is closely related to Yoga and based on the same ancient (Samkhya) philosophy is the oldest medicinal system in the world - Ayurveda.
Ayurveda also doesn’t prescribe any rules on weather or not meat is “allowed”, but it very clearly describes meat as unfavorable for your health, due to it’s tamasic qualities.
According to Samkhya philosophy, all of nature consists of 3 different qualities:
Rajas (the moving and transformative aspect, as in the force that makes a plant grow, or the digestive forces in the body).
Sattva (the nourishing, balancing, sustaining and illuminating aspect, as in the state of the blossoming plant - or our higher intelligence.
Tamas (the heavy, stagnant aspects, as in the decaying plant, or a state of deep sleep).
According to Ayurveda, each food gives us these qualities in different ratios.
Meat is by nature tamasic and will cause us health problems connected with an excess of this quality.
So after reading this I hope that you have a better understanding of Yoga’s point of view regarding vegetarianism...
Please comment or let me know if you have any questions...
Have a lovely day!!
P.S. Recipes will follow... ;-)