Updated: Mar 13
While there is a Yoga way of eating, there is also a Yoga way of not eating. This refers to Fasting. This is done by yogis as a form of physical cleansing or purification. Since we make our digestive system work several times a day, it's also a good idea to give it some rest. This will allow our digestive system to recover from the abuse: from eating too much, eating unhealthy foods or eating at the wrong time. It also allows us to get rid of the toxins in our body. Simply put, fasting is abstinence from food. However, a careful approach must be taken. Here are some guidelines on how to start fasting:
Start with a single-day fast. This will give you an idea of how Fasting feels like. This one-day fast is supposed to make you feel that Fasting is not hard at all, that you can go on for a longer period of time.
If you are the type of person who eats 3 full meals a day and snacks in between, starting the fast may be a bit tougher. What you can do is eat just one full meal (composed of grain and vegetables) per day around lunchtime, while taking in water or juice at other times of the day. Once you get the hang of eating less food in a day, you can proceed to the single-day fast.
Decide on what type of fast you are going to follow. It can either be water fast, a fruit juice fast or vegetable juice fast. Once you've decided, stick to it (most people would recommend juice fasts). For water fast, drink around 7 glasses of clear water per day. For juice fasts, drink the same amount of fruit or vegetable juice. Drink slowly so as to absorb the Prana from them.
From the single-day fast, the goal is to move on to more days of Fasting. But if you find Fasting for more than 3 days difficult, you can eat light foods like vegetables and soups for one day and go back to Fasting the next day. Try to go for a series of 3-day fasts with 1 day of light food in between them. Eventually, you'll be able to go on to 5-day fasts or even longer.
Breaking the fast
This is perhaps the most difficult part of the fast. You cannot break it drastically because once your body tastes food, it will crave for more. It can also lead to sickness. A good idea to start the break is to do it in the evening, so as to allow the food to go through your system while you sleep at night. Also remember to chew your food thoroughly, since the digestive system has been at rest, to make the process of digestion easier. For a two-day fast, follow these steps:
Day 1: Fresh fruit and a teaspoon of natural yogurt for digestion
Day 2: Salads
Day 3: Steamed vegetables with light grain
Day 4: Gradually return to your normal diet.
If you fasted for 4 days, just double the number of days for each step. Do the same adjustment for longer fasts. Avoid tea, coffee, alcohol, and seasoning while breaking the fast. Just remember not to overeat or mix too many food types on your first day of food. Do everything slowly but surely. Most of us may think that Fasting is hard. But if we are well-prepared, then it should not be a big deal at all. Aside from the tips mentioned above, a mental determination is also important. Otherwise, you will give up on it easily.
As a health guideline, consult your physician before changing your diet or food patterns. You might have a health condition that can get worse when you change your diet. Fasting is beneficial physically, mentally, and spiritually. And good physical, mental and spiritual health is what Yoga is all about.