Food is essential to life. In the form of food only, we are able to absorb the 5 basic elements – ether, air, fire, water and earth – that will sustain the physical body. Food is also one of the three external sources of Prana or life force available to us; the other two are oxygen and sunlight. According to the Upanishads, the mind is composed of the most subtle vibrations of food. Therefore, Ayurveda, the science of life, points out that knowledge of proper diet/food-Aahar- is the main foundation for attaining optimum health and achieving balance and well-being. .
At the physical level, food is the only substance responsible for tissue buildup. The quality of our tissues as well as the ratio of wear and tear are mainly determined by the quality of food that we ingest. Ayurveda acknowledges two distinct metabolic processes where digestion occurs:
The first one takes place along the gastrointestinal tract starting in the tongue and ending in the colon where water absorption for feces formation occurs. The second stage deals with the assimilation or re-absorption of the food that is going to form the tissues in the liver. . These processes get affected with improper food taken through time. Agni, the digestive fire, weakens which in turn, prevents food from transforming effectively, paving the way for the accumulation of undigested matter or Ama. Disease appears as a result of Ama not being eliminated in due time. .
The involvement of Prana is expressed through Agni’s transformational functions of food in the form of Pitta along the g.i. tract in combination with the energies of movement and cohesion; that is the expression of the Doshas – Vata, Pitta and Kapha, the functional intelligence primarily behind the digestive processes and also everything in relationship to health and disease. .
Whatever we eat also creates an effect in the mind. Ayurveda does not classify food in terms of carbohydrates proteins, fats, etc. Food is rather classified like the gunas or qualities of the mind- Sattvic (pure, balancing), Rajasic (stimulating, agitating) and Tamasic (inert, dulling). What we eat is what we express. The quality of food that we feel drawn to ingest generally reflects the predominating guna of the mind. Since 80% of all diseases come from the mind and the mind is under the control of the gunas, food therapy is an essential component for healing the mind. .
Our inherent intelligence has programmed us to use food as therapy or medicine. Ayurveda offers a wide range of parameters, like the science of the 6 tastes, an extensive repertoire of spices and rich and diverse vegetarian food that will help promote digestion and sustain life at the physical level, provide strength stamina and enthusiasm at the energy level through regulation of Prana and Agni and balance of Doshas at the energy/vital level and control of mind and balance of emotions.
About Bharata Surya Javier Lopez (Bharata Surya) is a Sivananda Yoga Teacher and a certified Ayurveda Practitioner, Counselor, Pancha Karma specialist and Marma therapist trained in the US and India. For the last 15 years he has led a private practice and dealt in multiple corporate scenarios leading stress and pain management programs. He is actively providing marma therapy services at the Yoga Farm Ashram & SYVC Centers in California.
Please join us for the Food as Medicine: Ayurvedic Nutrition and Cooking Certificate Course. Bharata will share Ayurveda’s principles of six tastes and three constitutions to build recipes for restoring health and balance. Theory and hands-on practice learning to how to cook and the proper use of spices and herbs.
This course is part of a series of modules offered by the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Organization in collaboration with Acharya David Frawley (Vamadeva).