Guruji often says that diet influences the mind to such a degree that the importance of a wholesome, healthy vegetarian diet cannot be overstated when it comes to having fitness to walk this path of Kriya Yoga:
“Sometimes I am giving health tips, because we have to be strict with ourselves and with our diet. We should restrict certain things in our diet. For example, gluten, because is not good for health. It pollutes the body, and then also the mind. Too much (refined) sugar is a poison. When sugar is heated, it turns black. It is bad for the brain. Processed foods are also bad for health. Saturated fat is something else that causes health problems, both physical and mental. Meat takes a long time to digest. White flour takes 8 hours to digest. Potatoes make the digestive system work hard.”
Nevertheless, Guruji teaches above all that we should have a balanced diet– and as Kriya practitioners there is no call for strict dietary restrictions or extremes; we can eat even those foods which are less healthy from time to time. The main thing is to listen to the body.
In retrospect, when I started out on the Kriya path, and during the time when the children were babes in arms, I was far less health conscious or aware than I am now. Improving my diet and that of the family has been an ongoing process and learning curve, inspired by Guruji’s words of course, and conscious that the children should not be lacking in nutrition being brought up as vegetarians.
Guruji has talked about the benefits of wheatgrass juice, and grows it himself in his mini-greenhouse, so we’ve been sprouting that for some time too. When the book about it arrived with the wheatgrass ‘starter kit’ that I ordered online, I learned that wheatgrass juice is so abundant in vitamins, minerals, enzymes, protein and chlorophyll that a 30ml shot of fresh wheatgrass juice contains the same nutritional value as an entire kilo of leafy green vegetables! To name some of those benefits very briefly: it acts as a cleanser for the body, energises body and mind and helps digestion. It has also been shown to help clear the body of heavy metals, and is known to prevent and fight infections and diseases such as: psoriasis; tooth decay; cancer and diabetes.
Over the past year one of the most helpful courses I have come across, with empowering nutritional knowledge which are in sync with the nutritional principles and advice learned from Guruji, was by Yuri Elkaim (www.YuriElkaim.com). I would recommend Yuri’s newsletters and books to fellow yoga students. Especially if you are interested in learning how to beat sugar cravings, and reduce dairy, processed foods and gluten without compromising health (and without going hungry!) Another excellent book is ‘Conscious Eating’ by Gabriel Cousens, MD.
Obviously, it’s not often possible or even wise to make drastic changes to your diet overnight. It’s a process. But having bought a cold-press juicer last year, it has already proved to be a fantastic health investment. It has made it extraordinarily easy to make fresh vegetable juices a part of our diet using ingredients such as spinach, kale, parsley, lemon, ginger, apples, beetroot, etc. – in fact all the vegetables that Guruji is always telling us to include in our diet for all their benefits. The children love drinking the fresh juice too.
I have discovered that it certainly helps health, energy and yoga practice to eat a diet primarily full of pure, natural, unprocessed foods such as vegetables and fruit, nuts and seeds. As Yuri Elkaim says along with other good nutritionists, we are not what we eat, but what we digest.
I have learned that sugar acidifies the blood which can lead to all kinds of problems, whereas greens are a great source of easily digestible protein for the body, and they do the opposite – they alkalize the blood. Through drinking fresh juice, eating green salads with baby spinach and kale, or making a simple broccoli soup, I would have doubted that it could be possible, but it kills sweet cravings in their tracks. It’s quite amazing how the internal chocolate dialogues quieten down when I make the effort to juice and get enough greens into my diet. (Those who read last year’s blog, ‘The Saint who Loved Chocolate’ will appreciate that this has some significance for me!!)
Slowly but surely, I am trying to become more conscious of maintenance of the body as would befit a yoga student.