To a lot of us, Yoga may seem like an exercise routine that is practiced on a mat – much like how we run a treadmill. However, Yoga was not supposed to be seen as a workout regiment. It is estimated that Yoga emerged as a spiritual discipline some 5,000 years ago in the Indus Valley Civilization (modern day India). Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Yog’ which means union. This union has been interpreted differently by different schools of Yoga. The consensus remains that it is the union of mind, body, and soul. The philosophy of Yoga tells us how to achieve this union for a happy and fulfilling life.
While Yoga postures could be a way to keep the body fit, a lot more is required for the development of mind and soul. This is where the philosophy of veganism comes into the spotlight. As Yoga is not confined to mere postures, veganism is not confined to being a health food trend. Veganism stands for respecting the right to life of all living beings by causing the least harm. That is why vegans do not consume any products that come from animals such as meat, eggs, milk, cheese, butter, yogurt, ice-cream ghee etc.
But why should anyone who teaches Yoga to consider going vegan? Here’s why:
Because Patanjali says so..
All Yoga teachers study an ancient text, ‘The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali’, as a part of their training. It is believed that around 1st millennium CE, Sage Patanjali was the first person to put the practices of Yoga into some order. Patanjali laid out an eigh-folded path to Yoga. According to him, Yoga has 8 limbs:
- YAMA – Moral Restraints
NIYAMA – Rules and Duties
ASANA – Yoga Poses/Postures
PRANAYAMA – Expansion of Breath and its control
PRATYAHARA – Withdrawal from sensory experiences
DHARANA – Focus, and concentration
DHYANA – Deep meditation
SAMADHI – Enlightenment or bliss-like state
Now, you can clearly see that Patanjali places postures (asanas) at number 3! Yamas are the first and foremost thing to be taken care of. There are five Yamas: five Yamas: Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (truthfulness), Asteya (nonstealing), Brahmacharya (right use of energy), and Aparigraha (nongreed or non hoarding). It is impossible to truly practice these yamas without practicing veganism. How?
How can we claim to practice Ahimsa (non-violence) when our food choices lead to murder, torture, and exploitation of millions of animals?
While it is known that meat industry is responsible for the murder of pigs, cows, chicken and other animals, a lot remains hidden about dairy. Dairy industry tortures cows and buffaloes by artificially impregnating (and raping) them constantly so that the milk production doesn’t stop. Hey! cows and buffaloes are mammals so they can only give milk when they are lactating.
The newly born male calf is taken away, otherwise he would drink all the milk. In most cases, male calves are sold for slaughter while female calves are groomed to become a milk-producing machine. If you do not believe what you are reading, we request you to watch this video from an investigation of dairy farms:
How can we practice the Yama, Asteya (non-stealing) when our food choices are responsible for stealing milk that a cow/buffalo has produced for her baby calf?
We are stealing food from babies!
How can we practice the Yama of Aparigraha (non-greed) when our greed for consuming large quantities of dairy products and meat is causing havoc on the environment?
“Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation”
Source: FAO United Nations
Raising animals for meat and dairy consumes limited resources such as land and water. According to peta.org, “Seven football fields’ worth of land is bulldozed every minute to create more room for farmed animals and the crops that feed them.
Chickens, pigs, cattle, and other animals raised for food are the primary consumers of water in the U.S.A single pig consumes 21 gallons of drinking water per day, while a cow on dairy farm drinks as much as 50 gallons daily.
It takes more than 2,400 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of cow flesh, whereas it takes about 180 gallons of water to make 1 pound of whole wheat flour.”
Mahatma Gandhi said, ” There is enough in this world for everyone’s need but not for everyone’s greed.” It is possible to live a happy and healthy lifestyle free of animal products by going vegan. Plant-based foods can meet all of our nutritional requirements. But if we still choose to consume meat or dairy products in the name of taste and ‘old habits’, then it is sheer greed talking!
Often Recited Sanskrit Mantras Emphasize on Welfare of All Living Beings:
If you have been to a Yoga class, you’d notice that a lot of teachers end the class by reciting mantras in Sanskrit. Two most popular mantras are the Shanti (Peace) mantras. these mantras take into account all living beings and not just humans. If you are eating animals or products that come from animals, you are not truly practicing what the mantras say.
Take a look:
Om Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah
Sarve Santu Nir-Aamayaah |
Sarve Bhadraanni Pashyantu
Maa Kashcid-Duhkha-Bhaag-Bhavet |
Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih ||
May all beings become happy
May none fall ill |
May all see auspiciousness everywhere
May none ever feel sorrow |
Om Peace Peace Peace ||
Om Dyauh Shaantir-Antarikssam Shaantih
Prthivii Shaantir-Aapah Shaantir-Ossadhayah Shaantih |
Vanaspatayah Shaantir-Vishve-Devaah Shaantir-Brahma Shaantih
Sarvam Shaantih Shaantireva Shaantih Saa Maa Shaantir-Edhi |
Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih ||
May peace radiate there in the whole sky as well as in the vast ethereal space everywhere.
May peace reign all over this earth, in water and in all herbs, trees and creepers.
May peace flow over the whole universe.
May peace be in the Supreme Being Brahman.
And may there always exist in all peace and peace alone.
Aum peace, peace and peace to us and all beings!
Many, who seek the path of spirituality and Yoga, see the world as a manifestation of their inner self. If that is true, it just does not make sense to harm the living beings who co-inhabit our world.
If this article has inspired you to live a cruelty-free lifestyle, please take the pledge to go vegan here.