Ayurveda is an ancient health care system that is growing in popularity in the West. As our own doctors have little more to offer than different colored pills, a system that deems food as both preventative medicine and cure is particularly appealing.
Ayurvedic teas, medicinal herbs and dietary practices are as much in fashion among the yoga crowd as elephants and Om symbols.
But there are a few things to consider before you jump into the Ayurvedia band-wagon.
An Ayurvedic Diet is not another name for the Yogic Diet.
They have many similarities, both being rooted in the culture of Hinduism, but Ayurvedic diets and yogic diets are designed with different intentions.
In fact, an Ayurvedic diet encompasses the yogic diet. Think of the Hindu many-headed BIG god - the huge, universal god who encompasses the three lesser gods Shiva,Vishnu, and Brahman. Different cults within Hinduism choose to focus their worship on one of the lesser aspects of the BIG god, so that Vaishnaites worship Vishnu and Shiviites worship Shiva, and Brahmaites are pretty much extinct.
To draw a parallel to diet, Ayurveda is the BIG god. It encompasses three types of food; rajasic, tamasic, and sattvic. A yogic diet is one that includes only food deemed Sattvic (for more information on what these terms actually mean, flip to the next article).
So a yogic diet and an Ayurvedic diet have many similarities, but a yogic diet excludes many foods included in Ayurveda, and places emphasis on certain foods that maybe Ayurveda doesn’t find particularly important.
The purpose of the next series of articles is to explore the dietary recommendations given to yogis and see how these compare to what is attributed to Ayurveda or misconceptions of Ayurveda. Certain subjects such as the aversion to mushrooms and onions and the glorification of ghee will be explored in more depth in individual articles.
Part 2: Ayurveda Defined