YOGA AND THE THREE GUNAS

“You are what you eat,” “Carrots help you see in the dark” and “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” are quotes about the food we are all familiar with. “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper” is another famous portraying our everyday diets. 

Quotes like these will enlighten you to exactly how powerful and important your meals are and how much of our everyday life is dominated by the food we consume. 

There are a lot of food advertisements around us, and there are sandwich bars, cafes and fast food stores on every street corner. It seems like our whole life is surrounded by deciding what kinds of food we should eat. With a whole lot of choices around, how do you know the food you eat will protect and nourish your body? Obviously, you are aware of the benefits fruits and vegetables can offer to your body, yet you still find it challenging to buy them when you are faced with those glorious displays at your local grocery stores? 

Yoga exercise has a lot of benefits. One of the benefits of yoga is the provision of simple solutions to help you select your food. With yoga exercise, you find it easier to choose food that has optimal nutritional value, and that is energizing and nourishing. One of the philosophies of yoga is that you must eat foods that contribute to your wellness and health. You must eat food that brings you inner rest of mind and encourages your spiritual growth. 

From a yogic perspective, all diets are classified into three categories known as the three Gunas. This classification is based on their energetic qualities. These three qualities are known as Sattvic, Rajasic, and Tamasic.

1. Sattvic Foods 

Sattvic foods are natural and pure foods. They are foods that offer energy, stability, and vitality to your body, mind, and soul. Sattvic foods are best eaten in their natural states such as raw, organic, steamed or lightly cooked foods. Sattvic foods include grains such as rice, oats, millet and barley, fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, etc. 

2. Rajasic Foods 

Rajasic foods are energetic and proactive foods that activate and stimulate the mind and body. Examples of Rajasic food include coffee, alcohol, tobacco, onion, vegetables, and heavily salted and spiced foods. Rajasic foods in most cases have a sour and bitter taste. From a yogic perception, rajasic foods work up the mind and make it challenging for you to be calm. 

3. Tamasic Foods 

Tamasic foods are foods that are stale, overripe or unripe. They are dead or overcooked foods. Examples include meat, fried or burnt foods. From a yogic point of view, tamasic foods are not easily digested; they have a lot of saturated fat and have the lower nutritional value of all the three Gunas. 

The classification of our foods into the three Gunas has allowed us to know the nutritional value and energy quality of our foods. These classifications are a guide for the foods we consume. The foods that are nutritional help enhance and improve our physical health and emotional state of mind.

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