Saturday, May 19, 2007


I recently quoted Swami Sivananda out of context and it's been a topic of discussion on my friend's blog. So I decided to look it up and make sure I got it right.

He really does say that "Gluttons and epicureans cannot dream to get success in yoga. He who takes moderate diet, he who has regulated his diet can become a Yogi."

It made me think about how yoga has affected my own diet....or vice-versa.

After class Dharma often tells students to adopt a vegetarian diet, although “a little mozzarella is OK.”

As many of you know (and are tired of hearing), I've been veg. for 20 years and, until recently, about 30 percent raw (since teacher training I'm about 50 percent, give or take).

Most of Dharma’s sangat (community) is into live (uncooked) food. Not the highly seasoned processed stuff, but simple juices, vegetables, soaked nuts, and fresh fruits such as pineapple and watermelon. I think the idea is that these things do not overly attract the senses (being neither rajastic nor tamastic) and digest easily -- keeping the body and mind clear for concentration and meditation.

I am pitta dosha and must eat constantly or I become crabby, tired and unbearable. That's my excuse anyway. But during February’s teacher training, as I became more and more immersed in asana, meditation and philosophy, I found myself eating less and less -- and suddenly able to do poses that had been vexing me for years as well as concentrate better and cultivate compassion, etc.

Apparently this was no accident.

From Sivananda’s The Science of Pranayama (p, 112):

"Gluttons and epicureans cannot dream to get success in yoga. He who takes moderate diet, he who has regulated his diet can become a Yogi. That is the reason why Lord Krishna says to Arjuna: 'Verily Yoga is not or him who eateth too much, nor who abstaineth to excess, nor who is too much addicted to sleep, nor even to wakeulness, Arjuna. Yoga killeth out all pain or him who is regulated in eating and amusement, regulated in performing actions, regulated in sleeping and waking' (Gita, VI: 16, 17). Take pleasant, wholesome and sweet food half-stomachful, fill the quarter-stomach with pure water and allow the remaining quarter free for expansion of gas. This is moderate diet.

"All articles that are putrid, stale, decomposed, fermented, unclean, twice-cooked, kept overnight should be abandoned. The diet should be simple, light, bland, wholesome, easily digestible and nutritious. He who lives to eat is a sinner but he who eats to live is a saint. The latter should be adored. If there is hunger, food can be digested well. If you have no appetite do not take anything; give rest to the stomach.

“A good quantity of food overworks the stomach, induces capricious appetite and renders the tongue fastidious. Then it becomes very difficult to please the tongue. Man has invented many kinds of dishes just to satisfy his palate and has made his life very complex and miserable. He calls himself a civilized and cultured man when he is really ignorant and deluded by the senses. His mind gets upset when he cannot get his usual dishes in a new place. Is this real strength? He has become an absolute slave of his tongue. This is bad. Be natural and simple in eating. Eat to live and do not live to eat. You can be really happy and can devote much time to Yogic practices.”

In other words, it's time to kick the old corn chip addiction.

Or, as Sharath says, "At least try to do."

The word for pineapple is the same in most European langauges as well as Kannada, the native language of Karnataka (and Mysore) in South India: "Ananas," pronounced "AH-nanas." It's also the Native American word for the fruit and comes from the Paraguayan "nana" meaning "excellent (or exquisite) fruit." The Ananas is native to South America and was brought to Europe by Christopher Columbus. One assumes that the Portuguese brought it to the coastal Indian state of Goa, which borders Karnataka. The Portuguese began to colonize Goa in the 15th century in order to corner the spice trade. Apparently they were slaves to their tongues -- as was everyone else in Europe.


  1. time for a fast. (me)

  2. Mmmmm. Chips.

    But my recent blood pressure readings are telling me the same thing. Time to kick the chip.

  3. Caca, there is no TRY,

    There is only DO,

    or not DO.