Ashtanga; Niyama 2nd Petal

Self-disciplines; how we should act to ourselves.

Saucha: purity.

We are what we absorb. The protein, minerals and vitamins we eat literally become the building blocks of who we are. Learning how to eat a pure, wholegrain diet can be of great benefit to everyone. Food is medicinal in itself. Ayurveda (Indian medicine) and Yoga itself places a huge emphasis on how important food is.

Yogis believe there are three states that all beings (including plant life) encompass:

Tamasic: heavy, slow, dull & inert

Rajasic: energetic, light, quick minded

Sattvic: balanced, steady & focused

We fluctuate between all or some of these qualities and our diets affect this balance. The ideal state is sattvic. Organic, seasonal, wholegrain foods will be closer to their natural state and therefore have purer energy. Cooking foods destroys enzymes therefore raw foods (cooked below 40 degrees) will contain more sattvic prana.

‘Mitahara (sattvic food) is defined as agreeable and sweet food, leaving one fourth of the stomach free and eaten as an offering to please Shiva’

Verse 58 Chapter 1 Hatha Yoga Pradipika

Yogis choose pure, nourishing foods including fresh fruit, vegetables and grains. The sattvic energy makes us feel balanced, purer and energised. These foods provide energy for us to carry out our Sadhana; our spiritual journey.

Tamasic foods make us feel heavy and dull having an adverse affect on our emotions. The goal is identifying how certain foods affect us. Avoiding detrimental foods will help illnesses to heal. Therefore learning about these energies is crucial in any healing process.

‘Eating should be considered as part of one’s sadhana. Life itself is a sadhana’

Hatha Yoga Pradipika

  • Santosha: contentment

Teaches us to be content with ourselves in all aspects and make the most of our lives. All situations even the most painful provide meaning and direction. Yoga teaches us to be content with what we have because life provides us with exactly what we need. We are unique and by knowing our faults we can recognise and re-define our prejudices and fears of facing the past.

People in emotional pain attempt to detach themselves from the past but in doing so they lose the present. One can never be liberated from pain until they get to the root of the problem and shine some light on it. Focusing on the light makes the darkness dissipate and fills us with contentedness.

  • Tapas: austerity/heat

Literally means ‘heat’ referring to fiery willpower of physical, mental and vocal realms. In giving something up we show faith in life that we can survive without it. Stopping the addiction to starvation requires enormous courage, strength and a fiery passion for life.

  • Svadhyaya: self-education

Learning about spirituality, esoteric anatomy and nutrition has no limits. One can read and learn as much about nutrition, Ayurveda and digestion as possible. A broken relationship with food cannot be mended unless there is an understanding of the role food plays in our lives. Reading a simple book on optimal nutrition or healing nourishment educates us to help the healing process.

  • Ishvara pranidhana: knowledge of the divine

Everyone believes in or senses a power greater than the material at some point. We sense that there must be a power or purpose behind life itself a wondrous display of creation.

This limb is about recognising the beauty of life and honouring that divinity. All our actions should be made as an offering up to that divinity. Just noticing how our body functions, breathes and repairs without any conscious effort shows the wonder of all life. Part of the healing process is to view eating as an offering to the body; temple of the soul.

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