Vegetarian diets have become popular during the past 40 years, but the vegetarian diet that is important to those who practice yoga and meditation is still not well understood.

The yogic vegetarian diet is based on how foods affect the mind as well as the body, and that’s what makes it a bit different from other types of vegetarian systems.

Gauging the effect of food on the mind requires an understanding of the philosophy behind yoga. According to yoga philosophy, the force of nature works in three fundamental styles and the different foods are dominated by one of these modifying styles. Thus the yogic diet has three food classifications:

Sentient Food:

Foods which are beneficial to both the body and the mind are dominated by nature’s sentient principle. These foods include most fruits and vegetables*, grains, legumes* (beans), milk products, nuts, herbs and mild spices.

“As a result of eating sentient food and performing spiritual practices, the cells of the human body become sentient. Naturally, an effulgence emanates from these cells creating an aura around the physical body of the spiritual aspirant. This is the reason why many pictures of mahapurushas [highly-evolved persons] show them with radiant auras.”

— Shrii Shrii Anandamurti

Mutative Food:

The natural force that creates motion and change in the universe is predominant in some foods. Mutative foods are beneficial to the body and may or may not be beneficial to the mind. These foods are stimulants and some examples are coffee, tea, chocolate, carbonated drinks and strong spices. Taken in moderate amounts mutative foods are not harmful to spiritual progress.

Static Food:

There is a static force that creates inertia in the universe. This force solidifies and binds consciousness. Some foods are characterized by a static quality and when eaten, they make the mind dull and drowsy. These foods are detrimental to mental concentration and meditation. They also stimulate the lower chakras (psycho-physical controlling points) of the body and the mental propensities controlled by these centers, making it more difficult for the aspirant to maintain mental purity.

Static foods are harmful to either body or mind and they are not eaten by yogis. Static foods include: meat, fish, eggs, onions, mushrooms and garlic. Alcohol, tobacco, drugs as well as rotting or spoiled foods also are static.

Those who want to succeed in meditation and yoga will get great benefits by following a diet that includes foods from the sentient category, and avoiding the static foods. A sentient diet is especially important for those who wish to perform yoga postures on a daily basis. For more information as well as to taste a sentient vegetarian food, please make a visit to our Lantau Island Retreat Centre.