Dear Yoga Mentor, My Question Is…

Sometimes students have written to or asked Swami Veda Bharati, Swami Ritavan Bharati, and other senior teachers in our tradition questions about practice.  This is one such “Question and Answer,” or Q&A.


In Five Pillars of Sadhana, Swami Veda writes "Eat five mouthfuls less than enough to fill the stomach." How can we know when it is 5 mouthfuls less than enough to fill the stomach?


Michael Smith has answered this question.
From Michael Smith:
“Five mouthfuls less” is a figure of speech to get a certain point across, like in hatha yoga, saying to go two steps under your comfortable capacity.

Swami Veda also said, “Systematically under eat,” and “Leave the table feeling a little bit hungry.” He also said that a problem in the USA was that the food containers are too large. People go to fast-food places and order giant servings when just a small serving would suffice. There is popular documentary called “Super Size Me” which points this out.

Swami Rama was even more emphatic about not overeating.

Ayurveda says to eat only what can be contained in a bowl formed with your two hands. Small portions can be easily digested. Large portions smother the digestive fires and create toxins (ama). The advice among many nutritionists is to eat mini-meals several times during the day.

When we eat, there are also other things to consider besides just the quantity of food. There is the quality of the food, the atmosphere where we are eating, our mood, how we eat, etc.

Gandhi said, “Eat your liquids; drink your solids.”

Swami Rama said, “Chew your food well; your stomach does not have teeth.”

See A Practical Guide to Holistic Healthby Swami Rama and Diet and Nutrition by Dr. Rudolph Ballentine; there is a great chapter in that book titled “Food Sadhana.”

Editor’s Notes:

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