The sattvic diet
Sattvic diets: balance mind and body with nourishing foods. By Dr Shreya Pujari
We live in an age of convenience, of ready meals and eating on the go. With a few clicks on a smartphone or laptop, take-away dinners are delivered to our doors.
Alongside this abundance of fast food, people increasingly spend longer hours at work. Not only is this damaging to health and wellbeing, but working long hours creates the sense that we don’t have time to prepare healthy meals from scratch.
In the Eastern yoga tradition, eating sattvic foods — that nourish both body and mind — is as important as the physical practice of yoga.
For the modern yogi, it can be difficult to wade through the latest diet advice and superfoods trends (or often fads) found online. Advice from an expert can be the key to unlocking the simplicity of sattvic eating.
I am a trained naturopath in the ayurvedic tradition and a yoga teacher at Asanaguru, an online yoga platform that connects teachers in India with students in the West. By bringing the health benefits of yoga into the kitchen, my sattvic way of eating is designed to support your physical practice throughout the year.
The foundation of yogic nutrition
Naturopathy is a type of alternative medicine, influenced by ayurvedic principles. We take a holistic approach to health and use remedies such as massage, exercise, and diet to support healing. Before naturopathy, ancient yogis were aware of the effects of food on the body, mind, and soul — as documented in the Charaka Samhita, one of the foundational ayurvedic texts.
Ayurveda loosely translates to ‘the science of life’ and is a body of knowledge based around the understanding that our personal physiology, and the entire universe, is made up of five elements: earth, water, fire, air, and ether.
The elements come together in three doshas, or life forces: Vata (ether and air), Pitta (fire and water), and Kapha (water and earth).
Yogic diets are composed of sattvic foods. The term sattva means light, purity, or goodness in Sanskrit. A sattvic diet then is based around natural, energy-giving ingredients, to bring the doshas into balance and restore harmony to the mind and body.
Health benefits of the yogi diet
A naturopathic diet can support your yoga practice by energising the physical body while providing the right nutrients to build muscle mass and aid recovery. Many people practice yoga for weight loss, and following a healthy yogic diet will further assist with shedding body fat. Eating sattvic foods can also aid the digestion process and help reduce bloating.
By boosting the body’s immune response, naturopathic diets can protect against infections and diseases, as well as reducing inflammation. Like physical yoga, the health benefits of sattvic foods impact the mind, not just the body. Diets made up of natural whole foods can protect against depression, to help you to feel your best, inside and out.
Foods you should be eating
A sattvic diet emphasises the importance of fresh, seasonal produce. Whole grains, vegetables, and fruits make up much of the diet, along with non-meat based proteins like lentils, beans, and other legumes. I have prepared a seven-day yoga diet plan which you can download on the Asanaguru blog. This free seven-day meal plan is filled with delicious dishes that are easy to prepare, these meals help restore balance and energy.
More than simply food advice, when practiced alongside yoga, the sattvic diet is a way of life that harmonises mind and body.