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Chapter: YOGIC LIFESTYLE (Ahara, Vihar, Achar, Vichar)

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YOGIC LIFESTYLE (Ahara, Vihar, Achar, Vichar)         (Take Demo Test)
  • Topics, Revision Notes and 2 Tests
  • Subject: Yoga Science

  • NIRF Yoga Certification Ranking: 27
  • Syllabus: CBSE (NCERT) + UGC NET (University Grants Commission National Eligibility Test) Based
YOGIC LIFESTYLE (Ahara, Vihar, Achar, Vichar)         (Read Demo Chapter)
  • Topics, Revision Notes and 2 Tests
  • Subject: Yoga Science

  • NIRF Yoga Certification Ranking: 27
  • Syllabus: CBSE (NCERT) + UGC NET (University Grants Commission National Eligibility Test) Based

Audio Chapter - 1 

Audio Chapter - 2 
Choose Your Language:

(Ahara, Vihar, Achar, Vichar)


"Ahara" is the most important factor in life. Health as well as disease is dependent on ahara. Proper diet, taken in proper manner can lead to better health or else can lead to diseases. Food is the source of life, strength, complexion and Oja of living beings. Food in turn, derives its properties from six primary tastes which are inherent in the substances that comprise food. The substances, their specific tastes, qualities, potencies and digestive transformations are responsible for equilibrium of the Dosha and Dhatu. As growth, strength, good health, complexion and the alertness of senses are traceable to food and its inequality causes illness. Diet therapy is a broad term for the practical application of the concept of nutrition as a preventive or corrective treatment of diseases. It comprises food prescribed, regulated or restricted in kind and amount for therapeutic and other purposes. This usually involves the modification of an existing dietary lifestyle to promote optimum health. However, in some cases, an alternative dietary lifestyle plan may be developed for the purpose of eliminating certain foods in order to reclaim health. Diet therapy provides an outline regarding which kind of food to eat and which to avoid. Ayurvedic principles are concerned about every part of the body, mentally and physically through diet.

Having said that yoga is not about asana alone and pranayama, yoga is a way of life. Good health depends on the long-term commitment and the foundation for that needs to be built on four important pillars. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), health is state of physical, mental and social well being. how certain yoga asana, if followed with some attitude, can tune your behaviour and imbibe good qualities in you

The Four Pillars of a healthy lifestyle is AHAR (Food), VIHAR (Recreation), ACHAR (Routines), VICHAR (Thoughts)


  • 1. The first Pillar is "AHAAR" (eg. what we eat, how much we eat and how we eat)

    The purpose of food is to increase the duration of life, purify the mind and aid bodily strength. The modern science classifies the food on the basis of its function on body as carbohydrates, protein, fat etc… In the same way the yoga divides the food on the basis of its effect on mind as satvic, rajasik and tamasik foods. The yoga tells food and mind has direct relations; the type of food you taking same type of mind develop., one of the Upanishad( last part of Veda) says, ‘Yatha khadyatennam, tatha nigadyate manaha’, which means the type of the mind is depend on the type of food eaten. If one goes through scientifically also the food advised in yoga are very good for good health

    AHAR means food. “Annam Brahma—means the food is Brahman (Lord of creation). There is an old adage which says, “As the food so the mind, As the mind so the Man”. This saying depends on what you eat, how you eat and when you eat. Every bite you put in your mouth counts for your well being and lifespan, but this does not mean you start binge eating. Eating in moderation is key to maintain a healthy life.

    Audio Chapter - 2

    According to Ayurveda, our food is categorized into three segments: Sattvik, Rajasic, Tamasic,

    a) Satvik food= is very simple food and gives loads of energy and keeps the mind stable. This type of food is very good for mind. It gives calmness and steadiness of mind. Satvic food increases the duration of life purify ones existence, gives strength, stamina, health and happiness. The food coming under Satvic category includes Milk and milk products fresh fruits, dry fruits, seasonal veggies, unrefined cereals, pulses, spices like ginger, pepper, turmeric, cumin, honey, jaggery, Ghee, and oil. Yoga recommends always taking satvic food to get pure body and mind.

    Sattv is defined as the quality of purify and goodness. Sattvic food is that which is pure, clean and wholesome. A sattvic diet is food that gives life, strength, energy, courage and self determination. In other words, sattvic food gives as more than the gross physical requirements of the proper mix of proteins, carts and fats etc. It also give us the subtle nourishment necessary for vitality and consciousnels. Food is seen as a carrier of the life force called pran and fudged by the quality of its pran and by the effect it has on our consciousness.

    These are important considerations in the practice of yog, yog is defined as those practices that lead to “ANUSHASNAM” which means the governing of one’s subtle nature.

    The goal of yog is described as “CHITT VRITTI NIRODHA” the quieting of the goals.A beginning practice in both Ayurveda and Yog is to simplyobserve the effect of each food choice we make and from our experience and awareness, begin to make small changes. As we progress in this practice we can recognize three broad categories called the guns.

    some foods leaves us feeling tired and sluggish. This is called the “ TAMASIC” EFFECT. Others food leave us feeling agitated or over-stimulated the rajsic effect. The third category belongs to foods that leave us feeling calm, alert and refreshed. This is the sattvic effect and the basis of the sattvic diet.

    b) Rajasic food= creates a restless state of mind. This type of food stimulates the mind, Even though it may feel good while eating, but it causes the fluctuation of mind. So it will affect the yoga practise. Rajasik food also imbalances the mind body equilibrium The food coming under this category are very hot, bitter, sour, spicy, salty or dry foods, Tea, coffee, onion, garlic, tobacco, fish, eggs are coming under this category. Eating in hurried also considered as Rajasik food. These foods are difficult to digest like non-veg, non-sprouted beans and pulses, garlic, onion, unseasonal veggies and salt.

    c) Tamasic food= creates a lethargic state of mind. This includes food which is stale or cooked over a long period. All refined, processed, artificial flavoured foods, deep-frozen foods, pickles, jams, beverages, deep-fried foods, liquor, tobacco, drugs. These types of food cause laziness and are not good for body and mind. The tamasik food leads towards the ignorance. It may be feeling good some time while consuming but, this type of food very harmful to the body. Yoga strictly opposes the tamasik foods. The foods coming under this category are meat, alcohol, tobacco, Fermented food.

    Yogis recommended to take satvic foods for yoga follower, these are clearly explained in classical texts of yoga, the yoga advise the mitahara for a person, it’s explained in Hathayoga pradipika; one of the classical text of yoga as bellows

    ‘Susnigdha madhurahara chaturthashavivarjitaha
    Bhujyate shiva samprityi mitaharaha a sa uchyate’
    (Hatha yoga pradeepika-1.58)

    Mitahara is defined as agreeable and sweet food, leaving one fourth of the stomach free and eaten (as an offering to please Shiva). This clearly says one should not over eat at all, Half of the stomach has to be filled with solid food, remaining one fourth one has to take water, and one should keep last one forth free.

    ‘Katvamlatiikshnalavanoshnasheetha shaka sauveeratailatilasarshapa madyamtsayan.
    (Hatha yoga pradeepika-1.59)

    Audio Chapter - 3

    The food which are prohibited (for the yoga) are : those which are bitter, sour, pungent, salty, heating, green vegetables(other than those ordained),sour gruel, oil, sesame and mustard, alcohol, fish, flesh foods, curds, buttermilk, horse gram, fruit of jujube, oil cakes, asafoetida and garlic.

    Godhumashaaliyavashastikashobhana ksherajyakhandanavaneethasitamadhuni
    Shuntipatolaphaladipanchashakam mudgadidivya mudakanch yamendra pathyam.
    (Hatha yoga pradeepika-1.62)

    The most conducive food for yogis are good grains, wheat, rice barely, milk, ghee, brown sugar, sugar candy, honey, dry ginger, patola fruit(spices of cucumber),five vegetables, mung and such pulses, and pure water.
    The food advised here are provides all essential of body like carbohydrates, vitamins, proteins, fat etc…It’s also advised in this shloka to take pure water, which is very essential for the body.

    Pustam sumadhuram, snigdham, gavyam, dhatuposhanam
    Manobhilishitam yogi bhojanamacharet.
    (Hatha yoga pradeepika-1.63)

    The yogi should take nourishing and sweet food mixed with ghee and milk; it should nourish the dhathus (basic body constituents) and be pleasing and suitable.

    Traditionally yoga was practising for spiritual progress, but present world Yoga is practising for the health. Following the foods as mentioned in classical texts is harder in Present time. But for keeping the body and mind in well we can remember some points while eating;

    Try to take the food in time always.

    Try to reduce-meat consumption; you need not to be vegetarian. But regular taking of meat is not good for health.

    Take leafy s and green vegetables, fruits more.

    Always take small mouthfuls.

    Chew well before eats

    Talk less while eating; try to eliminate all unwanted thoughts and difficulties while eating.

    Main reason for over eating is stress and uncontrolled senses ; yoga reduces stress and helpful to control senses; If one follow the yoga with full dedication you will surely feel and understand which type of food is good for your body.

    So Beginning of yoga practice take the food as usual; but try to do and follow yoga with full dedication, you will surely get control over food and no doubt you will get good health.

    The ancient literature says, “One should break one’s night long fast at the time of sunrise and end ones last meal at the time of sunset”. Going by what our ancient literature says, we all know BREAKFAST should be our first meal and that should be king sized. Whatever, we eat in the morning is absorbed and assimilated to the maximum. Food taken during the lunch should be easily digestible and dinner should be the lightest meal of the day. When you eat food. Your state of mind will decide how food is going to be utilised by the body. Eat your meals with full concentration. Chew your food well and enjoy the subtle taste of each food items. Most important avoid using mobile or watch TV while eating food.

    1. 2. The second pillar is "VIHAR" (eg. our rest / recreation time, our routines including Niyamas)

    Vihar means recreation. The literal meaning is moving or walking. Stress is a common factor these days. Everybody is stressed on a day to day basis and the reasons for stress can vary and spend time with oneself is a big task. Recreation, relaxation and enjoying family time rejuvenates the body and mind. It’s a kind of anti-depressant for us. Spending some time in activities which you enjoy clears off mind, relieves depression and anxiety, elevates your mood and gives a feeling of well being.

    Vihara means relaxation, which can be brought about by activities such as exercise, recreation and creative activities like drawing, painting, singing, etc. These activities help to regulate and channelise our emotions and bring us joy and happiness. Yogic practices of asana, pranayama and meditation relax body and mind. In addition to this, relaxation can be attained in good company also. Sound sleep is also important for relaxation. It is, therefore, important that we should regularly follow a timetable that provides adequate time for yogic and creative activities.

    Audio Chapter - 4

    Active creative hobbies like gardening, painting, playing musical instruments engage all sensory organs and releases pent-up emotions and recharges the mind. Playing sports is another way of relaxing body and mind. Relaxation is the cornerstone of well-balanced personality. Maintain the relaxed attitude throughout the day. Relaxation is an art which needs to be cultivated. It is important for our body, emotions and our nervous system. Regular exercise or relaxation keeps you fit and keeps disorders at bay.

    1. 3. The Third pillar is "ACHAR"(eg. Routine - our conduct with the external world)

    Achar – our conduct with the external world – which is in fact is the first step of the 8-fold path i.e.YamasAhimsa (non-violence), Satya (Truth), Asteya (non-stealing), Brahmacharya (moderation in seeking pleasures), Aparigraha (non-stealing)

    Achara means conduct that includes emotions, attitudes, desires, instincts and habits. Right conduct is essential for a stress-free life. Positive emotions, positive attitudes, good habits and control on desires help in making us strong, both, individually and socially. The right conduct protects us from unnecessary stress. Therefore, we should have control on our desires, instincts, emotions, habits and attitudes. Here, yoga is important as it encourages good conduct in our personal and social life. Yoga advocates for positive emotions and positive attitude towards self and other persons. Yogic principles of Yama (restraint) and Niyama (observance) help to develop control on our desires and emotions and bring about peace and harmony..

    How often is it that your day goes unplanned and you get hassled with too much work in the day? Our mental health and being are dependent on better routines (achaar). Regularity and sincerity are two major components of a good routine. The best example of following a routine is the SUN-It rises and sets daily without any excuse.

    Plan your day in advance. Incorporate all necessary task for self, work, food, recreation and sleep. The solutions to many of our difficulties in life lie in setting out right habits and right routines. Dr Abdul Kalam had said, “You cannot change your future but you can change your habits and your habits will surely change your future”

    1. 4. The fourth pillar is "VICHAAR"(eg. Thoughts - our goals in life, our school of thought)

    Our intellectual health is rightly dependent on how we think. Our thoughts are food for our mind. Buddha says, “Based on your thinking you become the person you are”. If you think you are weak, you will be weak. If you think you are strong, you will be strong. Manage your thought process correctly. Always develop a good attitude and enlarge your vision.

    We know that thoughts are very important as our behaviour is guided by the kind of thoughts we have. Our thinking should be positive. Positive thoughts bring pleasure in our life; while negative thoughts can make us unhappy. Right thinking guides us towards appropriate behaviour. It helps in prevention and management of stress-related health problems. Yoga prescribes that one should have positive thoughts. Positive thoughts give us strength to bear the sorrows of life. Yogic practices like pratyahara, and dhyana (meditation) help us in controlling our thoughts and thereby promoting optimism in life..

    Good thoughts process can be added in daily life by reading good books, scriptures, attending Satsang (religious discourses), reciting holy mantras, observing rituals, recollecting good experiences and thinking positive in all situations. We have to take care of all the four pillars equally to be able to lead a healthy and happy life. If even one of them is ignored then we shall bear pain, disease and suffering to some intensity. This thought has been reiterated not only in the Yoga Sutras but in Ayurveda and the Bhagwad Gita as well.

    Audio Chapter - 5

    So let me share a quick small recipe for happiness with you.  If you add this in your life this might add spark to your life.

    1. 5. The fourth pillar is "VYAVAHARA"(eg. (Behaviour or Action))

    Vyavahara (behaviour) means actions. Vyavahara is the result of ahara, vihara, achara and vichara. Yogic philosophy propounds that our actions should be right. We should not be indulged in wrong activities. Our behaviour towards others should be appropriate. Karma‑ Yoga proposes that we should perform right act with full dedication without worrying about the results. We can remain stress-free and become happy if we follow this philosophy and act accordingly.

    Recipe for Happiness: Ingredients:

    2 heaped cup of patience

    1 heart full of love

    2 hands full of generosity

    1 hand full of understanding


    Mix all the ingredients, sprinkle generosity and kindness

    Add faith and mix well.

    Add a dash of laughter. Spread over a period of time

    Serve smilingly to everyone you meet to spread happiness.

    Have a healthy, Happy life ahead!

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