Madonna loves it. Geri Halliwell became addicted to it. And Jennifer Aniston was practically its poster girl…it seems like the world and its wife is obsessed with yoga these days. And it’s not hard to see why. A calming, meditative practice that works on both your mind and body, stretching and strengthening muscles you didn’t know existed, yoga is the kind of exercise that even people who loathe exercise can get to grips with if they find the right class. Whether it’s the gentle breathing of Hatha that appeals or the intensive work-out of Ashtanga, once you find your yogic tradition of choice, it is easy to see how this moving meditation has blossomed from its roots as an ancient Hindu discipline to becoming the A List trend we see today.
Of course, tracing the origins of yoga leads us inevitably to India and the mysterious East, with yogic texts from this region dating back hundreds of years. Yoga is closely linked with Hinduism, the religion which has dominated India for thousands of years and a religion which gave rise to the ancient medicinal art of Ayurveda.
According to yogic and Ayurvedic texts, in order to make the most out of your practice, a specific diet ought to be followed, one which helps to nurture and strengthen the body whilst avoiding foods that can have a destructive effect. The yogic diet works alongside yoga exercises to promote optimum health and vitality.
A Sattvic state is achieved by following a diet of Sattvic foods. According to Ayurvedic literature, foods that are considered to be Sattvic are pure, natural and essential for the body. Broken down to its basic elements, the Sattvic diet is a forerunner of the clean-eating craze that has hit our, ever more nutrition-conscious, world. Yogis believe that our very life force, known as prana, comes from the food we choose to put into our bodies - our diet can affect our spiritual development as much as our physical.
First of all, the Sattvic diet is a vegetarian diet. No animals are killed or harmed in the process of eating yogi-style. Secondly, it is based on natural sources - the fresh, seasonal ingredients that make Indian cuisine so tempting - and anything processed is considered to be damaging to the body and mind. The bulk of meals involves unprocessed grains such as wheat, oats and rice whilst pulses like beans and chickpeas are also particularly favoured. Fruit, nuts and vegetables are also embraced, however there are some exceptions to this rule - garlic and onions are thought to generate heat and agitation in the body. In fact, you will find that many Brahmins, the holy caste in India, will refuse to eat these ingredients and that in the states notorious for their religious affiliations, many recipes will eschew the garlic and onion common to many Indian dishes.
In general, the avoidance of meat and animal-based fats, processed foods, fried foods, overly spicy foods and stimulants such as alcohol, will mean you are well on your way to eating like a true yogi.
Pay a visit to one of best indian dining restaurent to explore the inventive use of fresh, seasonal ingredients the menus employ in their dishes - you will find plenty to keep the dedicated vegetarian happy as well as those that enjoy their meat.