COOKING AS A SPIRITUAL PRACTICE
A YOGI’s GUIDE TO ayurVEDIC COOKING
BY: BINDI STABLES
AWESOME AYURVEDA | INTERMEDIATE
Food and diet play an essential role in the life of all spiritual seekers.
Ayurvedic cooking teaches us how we can transform the act of preparing food into a divine ritual, the alchemical yogic practice of transforming food into medicine, and how to prepare food as an act of selfless service— an offering of love and healing to ourselves, our loved ones and the world.
In this article, you’ll discover the essence of Ayurvedic cooking, 3 essential practices of Ayurvedic cooking, plus sacred mantras and everyday rituals to transform your kitchen into a temple and your food into nectar for greater health, vitality and spiritual remembrance.
THE ESSENCE OF ayurVEDIC COOKING
Ayurvedic cooking is a spiritual approach to nourishment that views both food and the act of cooking as a medium for sacred transformation – a way to elevate both health and consciousness. Cooking is seen as a humble and selfless service – a contribution to the peace and healing of ourselves, our loved ones and the world.
Food is medicine and our diet is a pathway to greater balance, vitality and longevity – all essential factors for a yogi wishing to pursue their spiritual practices for the noble purpose of spiritual realization.
3 ESSENTIALS TO AYURVEDIC COOKING
To prepare food in a sacred way, we need three things – A clean kitchen, clean hands & A clean mind.
1. A CLEAN KITCHEN
Yogis transform their kitchen into a temple— a sacred space to nourish the divine within us, and in those we love.
It should be well organized, uncluttered, free from dirt and distractions.
Our cookware, utensils, dishes, dishcloths also must be absolutely clean and reserved for Sattvic, vegetarian meals.
You may wish to dedicate a space in your kitchen for a small altar to transform your cooking into a meditative practice or devotional offering of love and nourishment. Here you can include an image or statue (murthi) representing your own unique understanding of the divine, light a candle or oil lamp, and perhaps offer some incense to your altar to sanctify the space and nourish love before you cook.
2. CLEAN HANDS
Our hands represent our actions or karma. We wash our hands thoroughly, tie back our hair when we enter the kitchen to handle food. Ideally, we are freshly bathed in clean clothing.
Clean hands isn’t just referring to physical hygiene – but mental and energetic hygiene as well.
Ayurvedic cooking inspires us to set aside all other worldly actions, preoccupations, and distractions for the time being, and dedicate ourselves wholeheartedly to the act of cooking in the present moment.
If we are interrupted during food preparation, we rewash our hands and reset our attention before continuing.
3. A CLEAN MIND
A clean mind refers to our sacred intention and full, one-pointed awareness. Our hearts and minds should remain fully focused.
One of the main features of Ayurvedic cooking, is the understanding that thoughts are energy, and energy is not separate from matter— therefore thought forms energetically influence the foods we eat.
Most of our food is exposed to many different conditions before we receive it and impurities can enter the process of cultivation, transport, sale or even cooking, when our minds are distracted, disturbed or busy.
TRY THIS: Repeating a mantra while cooking or listening to Sanskrit chanting creates a supportive atmosphere, purifies and neutralizes any unfavorable energetic elements in the food. Mantras sanctify the food, attunes the mind to positive vibrations, as well as awakens great love and gratitude which infuse and inform our cooking.
ayurVEDIC MANTRAS TO BLESS OUR FOOD, OUR WORLD & OURSELVES
Many cultures around the world have some form of gratitude or reverence for food – from prayer, ritual, offerings, to the simple expression of “thank-you” and beyond, there’s no doubt why gratitude and food go together.
Yogis too have their own way to bless and give thanks to food, the elements of nature which conspired to grow that food, the hands which prepared it, and the body to assimilate it.
Chanting a mantra before your meal prepares the body to receive food, blesses your food with positive & healing energies, and transforms your food into a divine substance to nourish the body, mind & spirit.
ayurVEDIC FOOD BLESSING RITUAL
Before your next meal, we invite you to try this simple but powerful ritual:
TAKE 3 DEEP BREATHS
EXPRESS GRATITUDE, PRAY or CHANT MANTRA OVER YOUR FOOD
EAT MINDFULLY WITH LOVE & GRATITUDE
Any mantra you like that connects you to a feeling of love and devotion will do, however, the ancient texts recommend particular mantras to transmit the blessings of good health and peace into the food for the benefit of those who consume it.
PRAYER OF GRATITUDE & BLESSINGS
Annapurna Mantra 3x
Om sri annapurnayai namaha
Om sri sada purnayai namaha
POWERFUL & PURIFYING
Sri Gayatri Mantra
Om bhur bhuvah suvah
tat savitur varenyam
bhargo devasya dhimahi
dhiyo yo nah prachodayat
By preparing food as a sacred service to ourselves and loved ones, transforming food into an offering of love, transforming our cooking into a spiritual practice and surrendering the fruits of our actions to the One Love that unites us all. This is the very essence of Ayurvedic cooking – as nature intended.