What Is a Yogic Diet?

Recently, I’d been asking myself the question “Is there a typical yogic diet?” As a yoga teacher, practitioner, and a professional cook, people are often asking me that question. I’m not sure what the answer is, but I’m interested in entertaining all theories.

Apparently it’s a topic on a lot of people’s minds. “The Yoga of Food” was a featured panel discussion at Yoga Journal’s New York Conference in May, and will be repeated this weekend at the Midwest Conference in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.

According to Dayna Macy, YJ’s manager of international editions and a food writer who came up with the panel idea, it was time. “‘What should I eat?’ seems to be the question that most yogis want answered,” she told me. In New York, the panel included Ana Forrest, Seane Corn, Dave Romenelli, and Aadil Palkhivala–teachers who bring very different views about yoga’s approach to food to the table, so to speak.

Of course, a hot topic was vegetarianism. “An important question seemed to be, ‘If you take the discipline of ahimsa (non-harming) seriously, can you eat meat?'” Macy says.

Forrest, for example, is famously known for having a taste for wild game. She considers it an act of violence toward the Self to not give your body what it truly needs. Corn, on the other hand, is a strict vegan.

Panelists also discussed the relationship of some of the other yamas, such as non-grasping (asteya) and non-hording (aparigraha), to food, as well as how the actual practice of yoga brings you more fully into touch with what your body truly needs. Good stuff. (You can watch a YouTube video of the discussion here.)

Did the panel succeed in answering the question, “What should I eat?” Is there even an answer to this question? I’m not sure. But it certainly made me think. I’ll be curious hear how the conversation continues this weekend, when Chicago yoga teacher Steve Nakon, who will also be teaching “The Healing Power of Food” at the conference, and Om Yoga’s Cyndi Lee, join the panel.

Do you think there is a yogic way of eating?

Lynn Alley is a cookbook author, food and wine journalist, and a yoga teacher in Southern California.