Yoga and vegetarianism: is one possible without the other?
Many who decided to start doing yoga , are interested in switching to vegetarianism. There are a lot of myths and various discussions around this issue. Someone practically identifies yoga and vegetarianism, claiming that without giving up the use of animal food, the maximum effect of yoga classes cannot be achieved. Someone refers to the fact that yoga is a philosophy that never imposes anything by force.
Teachers of NYC Yoga Classes in ONE YOGA NYC studio in New York have prepared their answers to the most pressing questions that the topic of vegetarianism touches on, and recommendations for a novice practitioner.
The philosophy of vegetarianism

Vegetarianism is one of the oldest food systems, the benefits and harms of which are constantly being debated.

Vegetarianism is based on two key postulates:
  • the principle of nonviolence, which contains a firm belief that killing for food is unacceptable. Moreover, most vegetarians refuse not only meat, animal food, but also clothing made of genuine leather and fur, as well as cosmetics and household chemicals, the manufacturers of which conduct animal testing;
  • the principle of health, including both physical and spiritual components, which is perfectly demonstrated by the phrase "eat to live, not live to eat." Vegetarians adhere to several cooking principles, pay great attention to psychological comfort. For example, many vegetarians believe that the words and thoughts of the person who cooked the food matter, so it is important to do it in a good mood and with love. They are also sure that it is possible to achieve psychological comfort by doing sports. Therefore, it is important to lead a healthy lifestyle: spend a lot of time outdoors, be active, walk before going to bed.
The philosophy of yoga largely embraces vegetarianism, meaning first of all a compassionate and friendly attitude towards all living beings. The main principle of yoga is Ahimsa, that is, nonviolence. Hence the rejection of animal food completely fits into the concept of yoga. But in yoga it is also considered that Ahimsa should be observed both in relation to others and in relation to oneself. Therefore, the need to adhere to the principle of vegetarianism is purely advisory in nature.
Many practitioners note: if the refusal of meat food for the human body can cause harm for various reasons, then this can also be regarded as a violation of Ahimsa. In addition, violence may not always be alien to those who have refused animal food. In yoga, it is commonly believed that violence is a state of mind, not a diet. Therefore, for a practicing yogi who has chosen the path to perfection it is important not just switch to a vegetarian diet, but to develop spiritually.
Several reasons for refusing meat

Reason #1. Karma
Many who practice yoga and are deeply immersed in building their relationships with the outside world are sure that eating meat and animal products contradicts the principle of Ahimsa and contributes to negative karma. The consumer, supporting the production of meat and meat products, seems to approve of violence against a living being. And the information of fear and negative messages of the animal's consciousness remain in the product. Therefore, yogis, if there is no question of life and death, prefer not to eat meat.
Reason #2. Benefit
Vegetarian yogis often explain their refusal of meat by the fact that it is not useful for the human body at the energy level. If we turn to Ayurveda, then all the food we eat in the modern world corresponds to the three gunas (qualities of the material world): sattvic (goodness), rajasic (passion) and tamasic (heaviness, inertia, ignorance).
  • Sattvic food (fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes) is vegetarianism, which, as it is believed in Ayurveda, has a beneficial effect on health, promotes the renewal of the body, gives vitality.
  • Rajasic (spicy, bitter, sour, salty) – stimulates passion and aggression.
  • Tamasic (meat, fish, eggs) – poorly digested by the body, dulls consciousness, causes serious diseases.
It is believed that in the state of tamas, a person is not able to realize complex things, since his mind is fed by negative energy. Therefore, in order to achieve the high concentration of attention necessary for yoga, it is worth switching to a vegetarian diet.
Reason #3. Energy
Meat and animal food are hard–to-digest foods. The human body has to spend a lot of energy on its processing, which is inefficient. Meat is considered a secondary source of energy, whereas vegetarian food is the primary one, which is formed due to the accumulation of solar energy.
Reason #4. Health
Meat and meat products impair the functioning of the human digestive system. The beneficial microflora and intestinal condition deteriorates when taking such food, the body does not receive enough vitamins and elements necessary for health, dysbiosis often occurs. And this means that the body is gradually poisoned by the wrong substances, which leads to serious diseases.
An important argument that many yogis give in favor of giving up meat is that the human digestive system is more like the digestive system of herbivores, not predators. Animals that feed exclusively on plant foods have strong muscles, are distinguished by endurance, refuting the claim that meat is extremely necessary for protein intake into the body.
Many yoga practitioners note that after switching to vegetarian food, they get better results from yoga classes – the body becomes more resilient and flexible, and the mind clears up as much as possible, it becomes easier to concentrate.
Does yoga require vegetarianism?

In the philosophy of yoga, there is no strict requirement to give up meat products and fish. It only recommends avoiding the consumption of the flesh of living beings, which leads many practitioners to choose a vegetarian diet. However, the opinion that yoga classes are impossible for people who consume meat is a myth. Even wellness yoga does not insist on a specific type of nutrition, and the choice of diet always remains a personal decision of each person.
Yoga is a flexible and inclusive practice that welcomes diversity and respect for individual preferences. Regardless of the chosen diet, yogic principles can be applied and implemented in the life of every practitioner.
Both women's and men's yoga teaches mindfulness, compassion and harmony, no matter what type of food we choose.
It is important to listen to your body and meet its needs, as well as to maintain balance and diversity in your diet in order to provide the body with the necessary nutrients. If you think that your body needs meat or fish, this is a personal decision, and it's important to follow your beliefs.
It must be remembered that yoga is not limited only to physical exercises, but also includes ethical and moral principles, the main of which is nonviolence and respect for all living things. Therefore, regardless of your choice of nutrition, it is worth striving for a state of harmony and balance with all aspects of your life, including your attitude to food and surrounding creatures.
Meditation helps to better understand yourself and your attitude to the world around you. Mindfulness practice is a unique tool that allows you to develop the ability to observe reality from the outside, adequately perceive it "here and now", engaging in processes, consciously choose your thoughts, track your emotions and desires. It is awareness that is the first step on the way to changing one's attitude to reality and its transformation.

If you share the principles of yoga and intend to improve yourself physically and spiritually, ONE YOGA NYC teachers with many years of experience will help you to master asanas and meditation practices, which will allow you to discover the ability to change your life. We often hold various Yoga Events for like-minded people united by a common desire to develop, maintain excellent mental health and overall physical well-being.
You can sign up for yoga classes and meditation practices on the website, or by contacting our administrators by phone.
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