Health tips on fasting & eating

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Lifestyle / Physical Health

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The Isha Hatha Yoga School participants share their daily food routine at the ashram. Interspersed with Sadhguru's insights on the various benefits.

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Duration: 11 min

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Health tips on fasting & eating

The following is an unedited transcript of Sadhguru's video. For better readability, breaks and highlights have been added by the editors.

Sharing by participant 1: Tomorrow is a day called, Ekadashi here in the ashram. And, it is supposed to be beneficial to fast on that day.

Sadhguru: If you watch the natural cycles of the body – based on this natural cycle, once in one mandala… That is – one mandala is 40 to 48 days. In these 48 days, 3 days will happen where your body does not need food.

If that awareness is not there as to which day that is, for that in India they fixed, what is called as Ekadashi. That means – 4 days before the full moon, 4 days before the new moon day, people don’t eat. Wake up in the morning, no breakfast, no lunch. Only after the sun sets, they eat one meal.

This is just to allow the system to realign itself. If you give this break, it’s very very good for your health, and your body, the way it functions. Because the system needs that time to adjust itself. Every day food, every day food – it’s lot of hard work for the body. Give it a little break.

So, what is it’s spiritual significance? Because it’s a cleansing. If your system is not vibrant, you won’t feel like doing anything spiritual – you are feeling lethargic. For a meditator, the biggest enemy is sleep. To sit here with eyes closed and fully alert, takes something else. For most people, if they close their eyes – sleep! So, to sit here and to be very alert with eyes closed, takes a certain level of vibrance in the body.

So, to create this vibrance, we observe – how to eat, what to do, how much to eat, all these things. It is not spiritual. But, it is providing the right kind of body. So, in that context – fasting here and there. Giving the body a break to recover itself, recover it’s vibrance, not become lethargic with food – is important.

The ideal break between one meal, and the next meal is 8 hours, always. If 8 hours is not possible for you, minimum 5 hours break is needed. You must feel a certain sense of hunger, before you eat. Before you feel hungry, if you put food into the system, the system will become lethargic. It will not know vibrance. So, human vibrance can be in various levels. Many different dimensions. It can carry you into completely different dimensions of experience, and living. So, keeping the body well, is a fundamental requirement.

Sharing by participant 2: Somehow on this day, I feel the need for food is not as much as it is on other days. So, reducing the food intake definitely helps to clean the system. And, it also gives rest to the digestive system.

Sharing by participant 1: So, we fast for 24 hours. And break the fast in the night with a particular kind of meal, which is more gentle on the system – kanji, papaya, chatni & cooked vegetables.

Sharing by participant 3: Every morning, before we do our morning practices, we have Neem and Turmeric, with tepid light honey water. Now, Sadhguru says this has lot of medicinal benefits. And, it is very supportive for yogic sadhana.

Sadhguru: Anything that you borrow from the planet, it will cause a certain level of inertia in the system. Now, the important thing is that you are conscious of this, and to keep the inertia levels at the minimal. Why always, whether your sadhana is working or not is always gauged by how much you sleep, and how alert you are – is because we are checking the inertia. How much inertia are you generating. If you are generating too much inertia, obviously you need to do something about it.

So, the inertia levels will increase if the body does not allow a certain amount of energy to enter the cellular level. For it to enter the cellular level, Neem and Turmeric as a combination is a tremendous… it’s like a dilator. You know what’s a dilator? Now, if your ophthalmologist wants to look into your eye – he looks into your eye, you don’t show much. He puts a dilator. Your eyes become like this [expanded]. Now he looks into your eye.

So, this is kind of a dilator. For the energy, it dilates the body in such a way that it allows the energy to enter and fill up every crevice in the body. This is important. Otherwise, if you do lot of sadhana – Neem and Turmeric is not the only thing. These are physical supports – sadhana itself is doing it. Neem and Turmeric is a good support, because it dilates the cellular structure in such a way that it is able to absorb.

As you do your asanas, the body will simply crackle with a different kind of energy. So consumption of Neem and Turmeric with a mildly laced honey water acts as a wonderful way of cleansing the system, dilating the system. That when you do sadhana, one thing it brings flexibility to the muscles. Another thing is because the dilation brings flexibility to the muscle, the that flexibility as a consequences becomes a way that you slowly build the system into a more power possibility.

So, taking care of the food, and a few things is important – as important as sadhana. Being disciplined with your food – what you take into the system is as important as doing the sadhana.

The idea is, if you take this If you take this neem and turmeric combination early in the morning, and drink something warm, it cleanses the stomach in a big way. If there are any minor infections in your stomach, it will go away. And it also kills the cancerous cells in the body. When I say cancerous cells, it is not that you must be diagnosed as having cancer. All our bodies have cancerous cells. Only when this percentage of cancerous cells goes beyond a certain percentage, only then it becomes a disease. Otherwise, everyone of our body has cancerous cells. And how many of them are there, decides your health status in many ways.

Sharing by participant 2: We just got done with our morning practice sessions, and headed for the brunch.

Sharing by participant 4: The way that we sit in the hall, is that we sit cross-legged. And, we eat with our hands. By eating with our hands, you really create that connection with your food, before it even goes into your mouth. Another aspect of how we eat in the hall is – we eat in silence. It really helps you be more conscious and aware. And why this is important is because – I become more aware of how my body is while I’m eating. In situations back at home, I’m watching tv while eating. You put your hand into the bag of chips, and all of a sudden there is no more chips left. But, when you eat this way consciously, you can better feel the sensations in your body, and to know when to stop.

Sharing by participant 1: Here at the ashram, we have two meals a day. After introducing this diet, I have seen some changes in the way I do my practices. My sleep quota has gone down quite significantly. Sadhguru says there should be at least 8 hours gap between the first and second meal. I can definitely see that it has worked.

Sadhguru: So, if you space out the food – between one meal and the next meal, if there is a 6 – 8 hours gap, without eating anything else in between, most of your cancerous cells will die. If some of them are tough, and they don’t go – that is why, twice a month, there is Ekadashi.

Now, huge studies are being made, and they are saying the same thing. That, if you just fast for a period of time – fasting does not mean 8 days, 15 days and killing yourself. No – just, you eat your evening meal today, the next meal is only tomorrow evening. If you give this much space, most of the cancerous cells get neutralised. Will all of them be gone? No. Some of them know how to lie low. But, they will never be able to increase their numbers and gang up in one place to become an ailment.

Sharing by participant 1: It’s not just about the type of food, and how many times we eat food, but it’s also about the healing and cooling properties of the food. It changes accordingly to the weather. Everything is put together to create the right kind of balance.

Sharing by participant 5: During the training, in the afternoon, we are also taking a soup.

Sadhguru: In the afternoons they will give you, what is here locally called as ‘kullu’, and the English came here and named it as the horsegram. So, horsegram soup they will give you in the afternoon. You drink horsegram soup. And horsegram is one – among the lentils, it is the most protein rich lentil found on the planet. It’s very high powered.

So, that’s why race horses are fed with this gram, which is called as the horsegram today. Now, this will increase heat in the body.

Sharing by participant 5: From my experience of taking this, during this training, I would say that I never get sick – like fever, cold.

Sharing by participant 4: I can better tell what my body needs. Sometimes I feel like eating more raw food. Depending on how much energy I’ve exerted, I’m able to tell better, because I’m eating in this conscious manner. I have definitely never enjoyed eating food this much.

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