It is stated in the classic yogic texts that through the power of yoga and pranayama, the digestive fires grow bright. This enables the yogi to eat massive quantities of food and burn it up quickly. Is there truth to that?
Nancy Cummings, a yoga instructor, recently won a chocolate cupcake eating contest by eating 17 cupcakes in 5 minutes. She claims that her yoga practice has given her what it takes to eat and win.
“I am disciplined and focused and I can digest them faster,” said the slender 31-year-old brunette from Bay Ridge, who dipped each little chocolate cake into a glass of water before shoving it whole into her mouth.
Folks do not try this at home!! Failed competitors in such eating contests often feel sick afterwards.
Regardless of the special power to eat cupcakes that Nancy Cummings has, the yogic texts are very clear on the matter of food.
Sattvic food in moderate quantities only is recommended for yogis. Cupcakes are not considered Sattvic. Eating 17 cupcakes cannot be considered moderate unless you are King Kong.
What is Sattvic food according to the Bhagavad-Gita? See the following article.
Reblogged this on Luthar.com and commented:
The Power of Yoga to increase the digestive fires!
This is entertaining to hear you denounce the cupcake! Thanks, and I find your article on sattvic diet to be worthy of deep contemplation.
But I feel compelled (for the sake of humor if not insight) to come to the defense of the lowly cupcake. If we examine the Bhagavad Gita Chapter 17.8-10 we will clearly see that cupcakes have none of the prohibited qualities! They are not: excessively bitter, sour, salty, pungent, dry (assuming a good recipe properly cooked), too hot (wait for them to cool if you can), not cooked 3+ hours (who could wait), certainly not tasteless, stale, putrid or decomposing (they are always eaten long before becoming stale). And they are even vegetarian if we allow eggs and dairy!
I see from your article on diet that you have thoroughly researched the possible merits of pizza. Perhaps the cupcake deserves similar effort? Let’s have a cupcake party!
Actually, IMO somehow Krishna’s list of items requiring moderation has a glaring omission: excessive consumption of sweet food. This one correction would place cupcakes in the caution zone. How could the B.G have missed this obvious case? Is there an errata list for the B.G.? If the B.G. had originally warned of “too much sweet” as a danger… would this have helped prevent the current obesity epidemic?
Krishna’s list amended with the sweet taste remarkably matches my teacher Edward Tarabilda’s system which he called “the Ancient Ayurveda”. He considered modern ayurveda to have become somewhat corrupt over the long passage of time.
Let’s take Krishna’s list, amended with “sweet”, and include the idea that for each person there will be one particular taste or quality which causes the majority of health issues, and another taste which alleviates problems. This is called the disease tendency for a person. Somewhat simplified table:
Personal Disease Tendency Taste to Increase Taste to decrease
Disease of heat salty pungent
Disease of coldness pungent salty
Disease of lightness nourishing sweet bitter
Disease of heaviness bitter sweet
Disease of oiliness astringent, dry sour, oily
Disease of dryness sour, oily astringent, dry
When I contemplate “what is a sattvic diet for me?” The answer is not what food is literally sattvic, but rather what food will have a sattvic effect for my body.
When you say “do not eat… too bitter” I differ.
I have the disease of heaviness aka kapha: easily congested, lethargic, increased weight etc. Sweet and/or heavy food is a problem but the bitter taste is my cure!! When I eat lots of bitter greens, take all sorts of bitter herbs and stay vegetarian my body is happy. Lightening therapy (in diet and activity not electricity) is the cure for me.
The bitter taste is rajasic, it increases energy or lightness or catabolism (breaking down). Even if I consume sattvic foods my imbalance tends to be heaviness (tamasic) and increasing rajas is the solution… this will encourage my body to be sattvic or balanced.
But as the table above attempts to illustrate: no single broad approach works for everyone. For example, consider Prince and Michael Jackson. For them, tamasic, grounding, nourishing therapy might have been a lifesaver. Healthy tamasic food (nourishing grounding protein especially meat) balances rajas (overly active, emaciated, insomnia, unable to rest, wasting away) resulting in a trend towards a sattvic body and mind. Save the animals if possible but there is a time when meat is preferable to opioids and insanely powerful sedatives! I read that hinduism considers tamasic food (meat) to have a sedative effect on the mind and body and is therefore considered undesirable. Michael Jackson was killed by three of the most powerful sedatives propofol, lorazepam, and midazolam. He could have kept a sedative pot roast around to snack on.
Harsha, I raise a cupcake to you as a toast to sattva and diversity, and acknowledging that the character of pure sattva in the mind is to transcend.
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Thank you for your possibly deeply insightful reply. I do not feel qualified to be able to fully or even adequately respond to you or your table. Most likely, it is because I am not familiar with the matters you speak about or perhaps I simply hold views different than yours. I personally believe in the power of potatoes to induce calm and relaxation. However, you do not mention potatoes, which is truly a wonder food, most nourishing and healing. You do not even mention sweet potatoes, although referencing sweet potatoes might be consistent with your thesis. In any case, let us agree to disagree on things where we don’t know what we are saying. I am a vegan, so my perspective is that whole food plant based foods cover everything. As you raise your cupcake as a toast, I raise a magnificent baked potato, unsalted, and unbuttered, a symbol of pure energy that calms and enlightens.
Thank you Harsha, although… I grew up on a potato farm. As a child I lived on every conceivable type of potato dish. And suffered as child labor in the potato fields for years. I am a bit uncomfortable with your potato and might stuff a stalk of unbuttered broccoli in your hand.
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Let’s talk potatoes if you would like. The ideas from others that resonate with me suggest that: There are 6 main tastes or qualities: heavy/light, cold/hot, oily/dry. And that each person will be bothered by one of these tastes in particular and be cured by the opposite taste.
Is it possible to demonstrate this using the magnificent potato? We shall see.
One of the main qualities of the potato is that it is dry. If you eat a significant amount of potatoes (no oily condiments or dairy), like say a whole meal of potatoes, or a lot of potatoes over a few days… this will increase dryness in the body.
For a few people who have the disease of dryness the increased dryness will cause constipation. Some of the other disease types might experience this too, symptoms and questions below are not absolute.
For a few people who have the opposite tendency, the disease of oiliness, they may feel great because the dry potato will ameliorate their tendency to be excessively oily. Other indications for the disease of oiliness:
1: do oily foods cause difficulty for you? Dairy is oily.
2: do you gain weight easily?
3: do you you have a tendency for arthritis?
4: have you ever had blood sugar sensitivities?
If you answer “yes” then this might indicate that you have the disease of oiliness.
Regarding the sweet potato. It is an entirely different critter. It does not have the drying effect. It is heavy and nourishing and a meat substitute. I’m not sure the effect is as dramatic as with regular potatoes.
If we put pungent condiments on our potato this invokes another paradigm: the disease of heat and the disease of cold.
So imagine slathering that potato with some pungent taste such as cayenne pepper, black pepper, dry ginger, chili peppers. Some people who have the disease of heat are going to be aggravated: they will be increasingly tense, hot, angry, irritated, and may explode (be ready to run for cover). Whereas people with the disease of coldness may actually feel better: “wow, my digestion is better than ever.” People with the disease of coldness can have a lower than normal body temperature, weaker digestion that needs supplements, and difficulty digesting raw foods. The pungent taste will help digestion. Clearly: some people have trouble with the heat, and other with the cold?
I’ve read that one rule for selecting which herbs to use to treat a condition is to determine: do we need to increase heat in the body or cool it?
So that is my thought experiment. It probably takes some observation to see how the bodies of others respond differently. Perhaps you will come up with something even better and you already seem to have found a style that works very well for you.
IMO meditation (broadly acknowledging many styles and stages) is the most interesting topic. But a healthy body helps.