|[ Excerpt from The Science of Yoga, page 242 ]
Yoga advocates a lacto-vegetarian diet. This is a diet containing fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains and animal by-products such as milk, yoghurt, curd, butter and cheese in moderation.
But in spite of all the evidence on the physical level, the motivation in yoga for vegetarianism resides on several other grounds as well. When we look at food as it pertains to the yogic life, there are a number of other considerations.
To speak of the yoga life, we are turning our minds and our attitudes toward an alternate way of living. When I say alternate, it suggests something that is different from what is considered the common practice in our society.
Just because something is common doesn't mean that it is our best course of action. In fact, I read a quote recently that asked "When in history have the majority ever been right?" It's true, sadly, that what the majority considers to be right usually is not.
The reality is that the vegetarian diet is more harmonious with our natural environment and supports a more natural way of living, though the majority would not. The yoga life, then, may include different habits and new practices than the ones that we are accustomed to in our daily routine -- things that the majority would think strange.
In modern times, the attitude toward food has become a generally perverse and dysfunctional one. The average person today eats to satisfy their cravings. No longer is food seen primarily as a source of sustenance, as building blocks for health and as fuel for engaging constructively in life.
Nowadays all manner of substances, inedible, semi-edible and downright repulsive pass as food. What we put into our mouths depends not so much on its nutritional value as it does on its ability to satisfy our yearnings from a skewed psychological bent. In short, we eat mainly to satisfy our lower urges.
These urges continue to degrade further the more that we attempt to satiate them, ultimately to the point where one no longer even realizes the quantity of non-food items that they have come to consider as food. The greatest tragedy however, is that these cravings and lower urges can never be fully satisfied, and feeding them merely fuels their strength and sway over us.
Not only is what one eats a point of consideration for the yogi, but so also are how much one eats and the manner in which one eats.
Watching some people devour a plate of food these days makes me wonder how far, if at all, we humans have evolved from the animal kingdom. Overeating has become a big problem in modern culture. People now stuff themselves beyond the point of full, eat when they are not hungry and often eat foods in combinations and in manners which wreak havoc on the digestive process.
Many people habitually eat in crowded, noisy environments and in social atmospheres where alcoholic and decadent flavourings upholding the theme of the experience. By and large, there is scarcely a concern for how or where food comes from, or for who prepares what we put into our mouths.
Most people do not even give a second thought about these things. But all of these things are important to the yogi...
NOTE: This yoga article is an excerpt from The Science of Yoga, an online yoga training program with streaming yoga videos and 600 pages of step-by-step yoga instruction.
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