The path of meditation requires a moderate, regulated life,
avoiding too much or too little food, work,
and sleep, or use of the senses.
The attention must abide in the soul all the time.
For such a person, yoga destroys all sorrows.
— Bhagavad Gita
Your body is a vehicle. Life has manifested itself through this vehicle. And to live your life to its fullest potential it’s vital that this vehicle is kept in its best condition through proper nourishment.
Your relation to food is an indicator of your relation to other aspects of your life. What you put in your body has a direct effect not only on your body but also on your mind and soul—on how you lead your life. If your food is full of Prana, life force, it will give you the ability to live your life to your fullest potential. Food that is pure, full of Prana and prepared with love, meditation and good healing vibrations gives you much more than just the feeling of satisfaction to the taste buds. It nourishes your body, mind, senses and soul while increasing physical energy, positive thinking, creativity, longevity and heightened awareness of life in all its beauty. It brings you closer to the Divine state.
The twelve principles of vapika meals
Sattvic food – Food that is primarily whole foods, plant based, lightly spiced, using no oil so that you feel refreshed and charged.
Six tastes of Ayurveda – Sweet, sour, salty, pungent, astringent and bitter. Meals that incorporate all these tastes are satiating and flavourful.
Three constitutions in Ayurveda – According to Ayurveda we are either one or a combination of two or all three doshas (body constitutions): vata (air/ether), pitta (fire) and kapha (earth/water). When you eat according to your constitution you help maintain equilibrium in your body.
Well-balanced – A common cause for indigestion and lack of energy after a meal is more often an imbalance in the combinations and proportions of proteins, carbs and fat. A meal that is balanced in these gives you a boost of energy and vitality.
Right portion – The quantity of food we need varies a little every day based on our daily activity. Eat only as much as you are hungry and only when you are hungry. For optimum digestion it is recommended to eat a little less than you desire. Other helpful tips are eating in smaller servings rather than one big serving, eating out of a soup bowl inside of a big dinner plate.
Healthy variety – Meals prepared using a variety of vegetables, roots, greens, fresh herbs, whole grains, lentils, beans, nuts, seeds, dried fruits and spices all provide the complete range of nutrients.
Fresh, local and organic – Eating freshly picked organic produce from the local farmer’s market helps your local economy, helps create a community and ensures that you get the best and freshest food that tastes the best that it can and is full of all the nutrients.
Seasonal – Eating seasonal fruits and vegetables helps you keep in sync with the cycles of nature. Your body’s need for certain food changes according to the seasons of the year. For example, your desire to eat more fresh green, hydrating vegetables in the summer complements the optimum season for these vegetables just as your desire for dense warming vegetables like winter squash and beets coincides with its abundance in the colder climates. You get the most nutritive value out of a fruit or vegetable when it is eaten in its season.
Cooking tools – It’s important to take into consideration the utensils and equipment you cook with. They have to be as natural as possible. Plastic, aluminum, non-stick, anodized cooking utensils may leech toxins into the food so using stainless steel, wood, cast iron, ceramic or glass is the safest.
Avoiding tamasic (thought to promote pessimism, ignorance, laziness, criminal tendencies, and doubt), or toxic Ingredients – Avoid food prepared using plastic, aluminum, non-stick and anodized steel utensils; food that is microwaved, canned or pre-made; food containing processed and refined ingredients like oils, white flour, white sugar, salt and sugar substitutes, corn syrup, preservatives, artificial flavouring, artificial colouring, packaged or stored in plastic containers or aluminum.
Cooking method – Cook food only to the extent to make it digestible, while retaining most of its nutritive value. It’s important to follow certain processes to retain the nutrients, such as steaming vegetables, soaking and sprouting beans and lentils and rinsing grains well before cooking.
A special ingredient – Preparing a meal with a positive intention, love and healing vibrations, mantras and prayers makes it even more potent and rich with healing properties.
Darshana Thacker is a well-known Ayurvedic chef in the yoga/kirtan community of Los Angeles. Her recipes have been published in LA Yoga Magazine and the newly released Forks Over Knives—Companion Book, a New York Times bestseller. Specializing in vegan Ayurvedic cuisine she is acknowledged for her contemporary Ayurvedic interpretations while staying true to the original cooking she learned in her mother’s kitchen, growing up in India. She can be contacted in 310-809-0494 and Mumbai, India +91-98213-59669 or follow her on Twitter : @VapikaSpirit