Vegan in the North, or How not to freeze yoga in Russia

They say that “a man is what he eats.” But in practice, our life and health are largely determined not only by the food we consume, but also by the place of our residence, the natural conditions of the city in which we live. Undoubtedly, these two factors are interconnected, and a person who lives all year round in a cold climatic zone needs a different diet than, say, a resident of southern India. Consider the issue of healthy nutrition for our compatriot from the standpoint of yoga and Ayurveda – authoritative disciplines that help to acquire excellent physical health. The most obvious way out for a person whose immunity nature constantly tests “for strength” with cold is to eat meat. The meat of animals and birds allows you to quickly warm up, saturates for a long time, provides the body with many useful substances in an easily digestible form. However, nowadays more and more people are aware of the harm that meat consumption causes to the body: the meat in the stomach turns sour, which creates an environment for the reproduction of putrefactive flora, the meat slags the body, and at the cellular level carries information about the suffering caused to the animal at the slaughterhouse. According to Ayurveda, meat is considered a “tamasic” product – that is, one whose consumption brings heavy thoughts and emotions, makes a person angry and suspicious, and kindles base instincts. Physiologically, the desire to consume meat in the cold season is explained simply: when the blood is saturated with fatty acids, a powerful warming up of the body occurs. Therefore, eating fatty foods helps to survive in cold conditions. From this it is logical to conclude that the ideological vegetarian should simply find fatty foods of plant origin. Historically, meat in India was consumed only by the lower strata of society – people who, due to life circumstances, were forced to do hard, rough physical labor. The upper castes never ate meat. thanks to Ayurveda and Yoga, it is known that it “clogs” subtle energy channels and creates low vibrations – undesirable for a person of mental labor, and even more so for a person with spiritual aspirations. Surprisingly, even the military leaders and rulers, as well as ordinary warriors in India, did not eat meat, getting energy for government and for military operations from vegetarian food and with the help of yogic practices of energy accumulation. However, the question “to eat or not to eat meat” is a personal choice of everyone and must be made consciously; if the state of health does not allow at this stage, the transition to vegetarianism will have to be postponed. If a person has very strong contradictions and wants to give up meat, but “can’t”, it is worth finding a book with good vegetarian recipes, which has a lot of hot nutritious dishes. This will remove the traditional misunderstanding for meat-eaters “what you can eat besides meat.” If the transition is too complicated, it needs to be postponed: if a person is very ill on a vegetarian diet, he is constantly ill, then such a diet will only prevent him from realizing his aspirations, all his energy will go into maintaining health. In this case, you must first improve, cleanse the body with folk methods and Hatha yoga, and the transition to vegetarianism will occur a little later, painlessly and without emotional “breaking”. As yogis joke, “only living people can practice yoga,” so health comes first. The Hindus who created Ayurveda (and it reached its peak in ancient times, several thousand years ago), practically did not eat animal meat, but at the same time, they experienced the influence of low temperatures to a very small extent. However, in a holistic science, which is Ayurveda, there is still data on this subject, even in antiquity, very effective and applicable methods for compensating for cold weather conditions were developed in antiquity. The main concept of countering cold according to Ayurveda is to increase the so-called. “internal heat” in the body. First of all, in a cold climate, you should increase the consumption of cereals, legumes and root crops, and thermally processed ones. The most gentle method of cooking, preserving the maximum of useful substances in food, is steaming. Freshly frozen vegetables should be avoided as they do not contain prana – the vital energy that nourishes the body and brings truly good health. It is better to buy Russian vegetables that are stored all winter in warehouses. Another important factor that will help maintain the body’s defenses at the proper level is the presence in food of the so-called. “five tastes”, that is, its balance in elements (in Ayurveda this is called the term “Pancha Tattva” – five elements). Tattvas are natural primary elements, or forms of energy that make up the human body. Let us list these five elements: earth, water, fire, air and ether. They are very important: if the body does not get enough of some element, even the most healthy organism will gradually inevitably come into an imbalance. It must be taken into account that a person should receive the “five elements” not within a month or a week, but at every meal! A balanced lunch can consist of root vegetables and legumes such as potatoes, carrots, beans, peas, etc. (element of earth); vegetables with a high water content, such as cucumbers and tomatoes (water element); fresh greens: spinach, coriander, arugula, lettuce – which carries solar pranic energy (air element); as well as products that carry even more subtle energy of the ether element: honey, ghee, ghee, milk or cream (if there is no intolerance) and sour-milk products (especially live yogurt, cottage cheese, sour cream), as well as warming spices representing the element of fire – first turn, ginger, mustard and turmeric. If you are not a raw foodist, it is important to eat plenty of protein-rich foods, including plant-based foods: peas, lentils, and of course nuts, seeds (preferably lightly pan-fried without oil just before eating). In no case do not deny yourself protein, so that the body receives enough nutrients. If you are constantly cold – this is the first sign of a lack of protein. With an acute shortage of protein, you can eat soft-boiled eggs (this is the most nutritionally rational way to cook them), whole – but for strict vegetarians, the consumption of eggs is unacceptable. It is necessary to eat white basmati rice several times a week (or every day) – preferably unpolished or wild – cooked with lentils or beans. Rice is a natural conductor of vegetable protein: thus, it allows you to absorb the protein from legumes completely. Rice cooked with lentils, with a small amount of warming spices, is called “khichari” in India and is considered a very healthy, “dietary” food – easily digestible, nutritious and promotes good digestion. In India, such a dish is consumed in one of the meals (usually for lunch or dinner) daily. Basmati rice, unlike other varieties, is both easily digestible and does not slag the body, therefore it is considered the best. In addition to ghee, which in Ayurveda is called the ideal carrier of pure energy of the element of fire, you need to consume vegetable oils that balance Doshas (physiological principles) in the body. (In no case should cow oil be mixed with vegetable oil in one meal!) Olive oil (improves the perception of solar energy, therefore helps in cold climates), coconut oil, mustard, sesame, and many others are useful, and it is desirable to know what qualities this or that oil carries (warming cooling and other properties). In the cold season and in the off-season, in addition to the use of oils inside, it is recommended to do self-massage (rubbing) with warming oils. Naturally, this is not done before going out into the cold. It is best to rub oil in the evening, in extreme cases, use coconut oil – it is absorbed most quickly. If you have a cold or if you are constantly cold, rub your palms and feet with ghee at night (if you have a cold, you can put on socks afterwards to warm up). In winter, apply wheat germ oil to your face and palms to counter rough skin. With dry joints, which can appear in Vata-type people in the cold season, the Ayurvedic oil mixture “MahaNarayan” will help. In cold climates, and especially during the winter and off-season, immune-supporting natural nutritional supplements should also be taken. Ayurveda experts primarily recommend Chyawanprash and Ashwagandha supplements., as well as natural tonics such as amla juice (Indian gooseberry), aloe juice, mumiyo. You should also take any good multivitamin complex once every 2-3 months. 

A nutritious diet should be combined with moderate exercise. Traditionally, Ayurveda and yoga are considered complementary sciences and go well together. Therefore, we can recommend Hatha Yoga as a balanced and gentle workout for the whole body. Performing simple physical exercises (holding static postures – asanas) of Hatha yoga, combined with breathing exercises (pranayama), plus a proper diet, guarantees you excellent health and well-being. The practice of Hatha Yoga should be started under the guidance of a knowledgeable specialist (yoga teacher), in no case from a book, and especially not from materials from the Internet – in this case, many mistakes will be avoided. Practicing yoga in a group or individually with a teacher is safe and very beneficial. In the future – usually after several months of such work – you can practice on your own. Particularly conducive to strengthening the immune system and the accumulation of sufficient “internal heat” in the body are practices such as Salutation to the Sun (Surya Namaskar), pranayamas: Bhastrika (“Blows Breath”) and Kapalabhati (“Cleansing Breath”), Surya-bheda pranayama (“ Breath of Fire). All these practices must first be mastered under the supervision of a teacher. In the future, for a cold climate, the practice must be built in such a way that in the set of exercises that you do, special attention is paid to strengthening the Manipura Chakra (navel energy center), because. it is very important for maintaining health and resistance to disease, gives “inner fire”. Such exercises are, first of all, all twisted poses (Parivritta Janu Sirshasana, Parivritta Trikonasana, Parivritta Parshvakonasana, Marichiasana, etc.) and in general all poses where there is an impact on the abdominal muscles, as well as power poses (Mayurasana, Bakasana, Navasana, Kukkutasana, Chaturanga Dandasana, etc.) Finally, I would like to emphasize that the issue of maintenance – and even more so restoration! – health – should always be decided on an individual basis. There are no two identical people with the same health problems, and even “heroically” healthy people have their own individual characteristics. All people are different! Therefore, you should not blindly take on faith and as a guide to reckless execution not a single diet, not a single recommendation, even from the most authoritative sources. Applying any method of recovery, you should monitor your condition and, if necessary, make adjustments to the practice. I believe that the ancient sage yogis who created the systems of Hatha Yoga and Ayurveda did just that: having wide knowledge, they carefully checked theory with practice from their own experience. In addition, to maintain your health, you should not neglect the achievements of modern science, which allow you to do a complete blood test (“for biochemistry”) or take a multivitamin complex “in one tablet” in addition to a complete, pranically rich diet! Yoga and Ayurveda do not contradict modern medical science, they significantly complement it. Good health and active longevity to you!  

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