There are three types of diets in the science of yoga. These are sattvic, rajasic and tamasic.

Sattvic is defined as the quality of purity and goodness. This food is pure, clean and wholesome.

Sattvic food, when eaten, is supposed to leave us calm, alert and refreshed.

Organic foods are, thus, recommended for their purity and vitality. The food should be fresh and freshly prepared.

Leftovers are decidedly tamasic.

Sattvic foods are light (as opposed to heavy) in nature, easy to digest, mildly cooling, refreshing and not disturbing to the mind.

They are best prepared with love and awareness.

Pure sattvic food needs to be chewed carefully and eaten in modest portions. Overeating is considered tamasic.

The food should be enjoyed for its inherent taste and quality rather than for the added spices and seasonings.

Some sattvic foods are:

Fresh organic fruits: Most fruits, including apples, apricots, bananas, berries, dates, grapes, melons, lemons, mangoes, oranges, peaches and plums.

Fresh organic dairy: Dairy products are controversy ridden these days but the tradition of yoga insists on the value of a wholesome food freely given by the symbol of motherhood, the cow.

We need to use the highest quality organic fresh dairy to benefit from its sattvic qualities.

Milk, butter, clarified butter (ghee), fresh home-made cheese (paneer), whey and fresh yoghurt, especially lassi, are recommended.

They are better with careful preparation. For example, milk can be diluted and warmed with mild spices (such as fresh ginger, cinnamon and cardamom) and served with raw honey to overcome mucous-forming tendencies.

Dairy, along with fruits, has been described as the epitome of the sattvic or yogic diet.

Organic vegetables: Most mild organic vegetables are considered sattvic, including beets, carrots, celery, cucumbers, green leafy veggies, sweet potatoes and squash.

Pungent veggies such as hot peppers, garlic and onion are excluded, as are gas-forming veggies such as mushrooms and potatoes. These are considered rajasic and tamasic, respectively.

An excellent practice is to drink freshly made vegetable juice for its prana, live enzymes, and the ability to be easily absorbed.

Whole grains: Whole grains provide excellent nourishment when well cooked. Consider organic rice, whole wheat, spelt, oatmeal and barley.

Sometimes the grains are lightly roasted before cooking to remove some of their heaviness. Yeasted breads are not recommended, unless toasted.

Supplemental protein: It is advised not to have flesh foods. It is said that the fear and anger of the animal being killed is transferred to the person eating the flesh.

Fresh meat is considered rajasic and old meat is considered tamasic.

Another approach is to avoid the flesh of mammals, especially if one is using dairy products. This approach allows for some high-quality fish, poultry or eggs.

Even then, it is recommended to abstain from flesh foods at least thrice a week.

One problem of the vegetarian diet is that it can become too cooling. For this reason, yogis of the Tibetan plateau sometimes include meat for warmth.

An Ayurvedic approach is to include warming and strengthening herbs in the diet, such as ashwagandha, astragalus or ginseng.

Rajasic foods are very hot, bitter, sour, dry or salty. They destroy the mind-body equilibrium, feeding the body at the expense of the mind.

Too much of these will overstimulate the body and excite the passions, making the mind restless and uncontrollable.

Eating in a hurry is also considered rajasic.

These foods are: hot substances, such as sharp spices or strong herbs; stimulants such as coffee and tea; fish; eggs; salt and chocolate.

A tamasic diet neither benefits the mind nor the body. Prana, or energy, is withdrawn, powers of reasoning become clouded and a sense of inertia sets in.

The body's resistance to diseases is destroyed and the mind is filled with dark emotions, such as anger and greed.

Tamasic foods include meat, alcohol, onions, tobacco, garlic, fermented foods such as vinegar and stale and overripe substances.

Considering today's lifestyles, you don't have to change your eating patterns completely and turn vegetarian or go on a sattvic diet.

By just following these basic rules of a sattvic diet, you will find you are healthier and feel much better.

For greater wellbeing, complement your diet with yoga practice daily.

Also, remember that what's most important is a balanced diet that includes carbohydrates, proteins, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals.

Bharat Thakur is the founder of Bharat Thakur's Artistic Yoga. For questions on yoga, write to dubai.artisticyoga@
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Some more sattvic choices

  • Nuts, seeds and oils: Fresh nuts and seeds, which haven't been overly roasted and salted, are good additions to the sattvic diet in small portions.
    Almonds are good choices (especially when peeled and soaked in water overnight), coconut, pine nuts, walnuts, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds and flax seeds.
    Oils should be of the highest quality and cold pressed.
  • Legumes: Split mung beans, yellow split peas, organic tofu, bean sprouts and, perhaps, lentils and adzuki beans are considered sattvic, if prepared well.
    In general, the smaller the bean, the easier it is to digest.
    Strategies include splitting, peeling, grinding, soaking, sprouting, cooking and spicing.
  • Sweeteners: Yogis use raw honey (often in combination with dairy products) and raw sugar (not refined).