Indeed if someone were to say they thought Yoga was just stretching after they saw a student leave a Yoga class and later on eating at McDonalds or something, they probably would be right.
Well, Yoga, in its entirety, includes a proper diet. One doesnt exist without the other. This is THE factor that anyone seriously interested in taking up Yoga must understand. If one wants to do Yoga, youve got to include all its principles.
When I started doing yoga some 6 years back, I did extensive research on the subject of diet and Yoga. Perhaps this was fate, as co-incidentally, this was around the time that an associate had told me to look into fasting and a natural diet as a means to cure my horrendous acne at that time.
I stumbled on a book called The Complete Illustrated book of Yoga by Swami Vishnu-Devananda, and this had a whole chapter on diet. What he explained here made it clear that as beneficial as most- if not all- yoga poses could be for overall health, if one constantly subsists on unhealthy foods, it defeats the purpose of exercising in the first place.
This is perhaps even more important in regards to Yoga.
Why? Well, Yoga is more than just a physical exercise as Meditation, Breathing Exercises and even some Poses such as the Peacock, Shoulder-Stand and the Sun Salutations are known to have an effect on the spiritual core of ones existence. This is rooted in ones solar plexus and forms the basis of the Kundalini or life-force power inherent in all humans. Remember, we are mainly physical bodies living in a Spiritual World.
Now keep that point in mind as I proceed to remind you of this quote and renowned cosmic law: You are what you eat Now, combine the gist of both factors and you should start to see the connection between how what you eat matters to your entire existence-physically and spiritually.
When you begin to seriously practice Yoga, it is advised that you also begin to watch what you eat. ALL the sages and pioneers of Yoga such as
Swami Sivananda, Swami Vishnu-Devananda and BKS Iyengar have all attested to this fact.
Here is Sivanandas quote on the subject of diet and Yoga (and keep in mind he is arguably THE guru when it comes to the who is who of Yoga)
By the purity of food follows the purification of the inner nature
In addition here is another quote that supports his comment
Without observing moderation of diet, if one takes to the Yogic practices, he cannot obtain any benefit but gets various diseases
(Ghe. Sam. V-16).
Yoga has an adverse effect on yours and the spiritual forces around you, consequently eating what yoga sages coin as the Sattvic Diet (which co-incidentally is the mucus/disease free or alkaline diet of the alternative health fraternity) will be the best way to go.
Simply put, it is your fruits, roots and leafy vegetables (raw and properly cooked). This is the Yoga diet and this has to be included in your lifestyle if you seriously want to practice Yoga.
Is it a co-incidence that this is the exact diet prescribed in Gen 1: 29 in the Bible?
Is it a co-incidence that this diet forms the basis of Hippocrates quote let your foods be your medicine ?
Is it a co-incidence this is the same diet that the drug-free fraternity labels as the best for delaying aging, having brighter eyes and complexion, better muscle tone and the like?
I think not.
Heck, if you just want to do any kind of exercise and not just yoga, you will still enjoy a lot of benefits from such a dietetic lifestyle.
Ive read of several raw-vegan or vegetarian body-builders like Stephen Arlin, David Wolfe, Scott Brodie and Bill Pearl (A 4-time Mr. Universe contest winner) who do extremely well on a similar diet, so one will be on the right track eating as such and choosing any exercise they want.
So do you want to experience all that Yoga has to give? Then remember to include perhaps its most important principle for your overall health-the Yoga diet.
Your friend in the mirror will thank you that you did. Trust me