When the awakening of kundalini takes place it is important to have the correct diet, as food influences the mind and your nature. At the time of awakening, certain physiological changes occur in the body, particularly in the digestive system, and the digestive process is frequently disturbed, or hunger vanishes completely. Therefore, a kundalini aspirant has to be very careful about his diet.
Scientific observations have shown that the awakening of kundalini is generally accompanied by a state of nervous depression. The inner body temperature undergoes erratic changes and drops so much that it becomes much lower than the outer body temperature. Metabolism slows down and sometimes it even stops completely. Consumption of oxygen also falls. Therefore, when you are experiencing kundalini awakening your diet must be very light and easy to assimilate.
The best diet for a kundalini yogi is boiled food. Crushed wheat, barley, lentils and dal are excellent foods, particularly when they are in a liquid form. Fats and greasy foods should be avoided and protein should be kept to a minimum. This will take any strain off the liver, because when the mind undergoes a crisis, the liver is overtaxed. It is good to increase the carbohydrates in your diet, eg. rice, wheat, maize, barley, potato, etc., because carbohydrates help to maintain the inner body temperature and they do not require much heat to digest. Eggs, chicken and other heavy foods do not produce much heat themselves, but they require heat for digestion. The yogic diet is macrobiotic, it is simple, plain and relatively bland. From time to time, fruits and roots can also be taken, but they are not essential.
A great misunderstanding has taken place in the last twenty to thirty years, and that is that a yogi should only take milk, fruit and raw vegetables. On the basis of personal observations, trials and errors, I can never accept that this is correct. There are certain foods which are not meant for the human body at all. If you analyze your digestive and salivary secretions and the durability of the mucus membranes in the alimentary canal, you will find that they are not really meant for digesting meat and uncooked foods. Whereas carnivorous animals have short intestines so their food can be expelled quickly, before fermentation takes place, we have very long intestines (36 feet in length) and our food should take eighteen hours to pass through the body.
Because well cooked vegetarian food is less likely to ferment, and we can keep it in our intestines for a full eighteen hours, it is the best for the human digestive tract. Of course, this is not to say that people who take a non-vegetarian diet cannot awaken their kundalini, as history indicates otherwise. There have been many Christian, Tibetan and Sufi saints who awakened their kundalini although they took a meat diet. And we can't say what Christ, Moses, Mohammed and Buddha ate because we haven't seen. However, from scientific observations made in the event of kundalini awakening, we know what is likely to occur in our body. At certain periods we may not be able to digest raw foods and there may be days when the body cannot even accept water. Therefore, during the period of kundalini awakening, please take a diet which can be easily assimilated and eat the bare minimum for existence. Do not live to eat, but eat to live.
The essence of food
The food we eat is not merely to satisfy our taste. Every food item has an essence in it, and in yoga we call this sattva. Sattva means the ultimate essence of food, but please do not mistake this for vitamins or minerals. Sattva is the more subtle form of food. When you eat for the sake of taste or enjoyment, instead of attaining the sattva you only get the gross things. That is why the yogis and saints of all traditions have always lived on the minimum possible food during periods of sadhana. When we overeat we create a burden for the digestive system, and when the digestive system is overburdened we are unable to extract the sattva from the food. Sattva is a substance which nourishes the thoughts and nervous system. When the thoughts are fed with sattva they are more refined and pure, and one is able to live in higher consciousness. Therefore, it is beneficial for a sadhaka to fast from time to time. When the body is kept light and pure it is far more capable of extracting the sattva from food.
The use of condiments
In the diet for kundalini aspirants, condiments have a very important role to play. Condiments such as coriander, cumin seeds, tumeric, aniseed, black pepper, green pepper, cayenne, cloves, mustard seed, cardamom, cinnamon and so on are also called digestives as they aid digestion. These substances are not spices for taste; they are condiments which have the same properties as the enzymes in the body, and by helping to break down the food for digestion, they conserve vital energy and help to maintain the body's internal temperature. When we talk about diet, let us not talk about it in terms of puritanism. We must remember only one thing in this case, to be sure the body is capable of digesting all the food. Having made a thorough study of natural foods and having tried them on myself, I have come to the conclusion that a combination of natural and macrobiotic foods is best. I have also discovered that instead of cooking the food in your stomach, it is best to cook it properly in the pan. Five or six condiments should be added during cooking to liberate the enzymes and chemicals which enhance digestion. The combination of heat, condiments and enzymes breaks down the food into smaller and more basic components, thus making it easier to digest.
Yoga and diet are independent sciences
Although diet is an independent science, it is definitely related to every system of yoga. Of course the ideal diet varies from yoga to yoga. A hatha yogi practising shankhaprakshalana will not be able to eat lots of red peppers and black peppers or he'll die. The diet regime for a karma yogi, a bhakta yogi, raja yogi, hatha yogi and kriya yogi will not be the same.
A bhakta yogi can eat all types of sweets and confectionary, consume cheese, butter, milk, etc. and he can eat and eat because his metabolism is very fast. Similarly, a karma yogi can take cheese, coffee, raw foods or cooked food, and even a little bit of champagne, because he is working hard physically and his metabolism is also very fast. But in raja yoga and kundalini awakening, the metabolism becomes slow and you have to be very careful about your diet and how much you consume. Over the years I have done a lot of work on food because I run ashrams where I have to manage all the affairs in relation to money, labor and the spiritual welfare of the ashram inmates. As it is not possible to provide different types of diets for the various aspirants of yoga, I have evolved two wonderful foods which suit everybody. One is for those who like rice and the other is for those who prefer wheat. You either cook the rice with dal (pulses such as lentils), vegetables and a few condiments, or you pound the wheat, add all the same ingredients to that and cook it well. I call this integrated kichari. You can add anything to it and it's alright. This is the cheapest and most nutritious of all the foods I have eaten in any part of the world. You can also eat as much kichari as you want without any fear, because it digests so smoothly. This diet is suitable for all yoga practitioners and it is ideal for those who are ranging high in spiritual life and are about to merge into the ultimate state. For one who is serious about yoga and spiritual aspirations, diet is as important as yoga, but if you are only worried about your diet and are not practising yoga, then you are a fanatic.
By: Swami Shankardevananda Saraswati
Posted by : Jaideep Ojha