Aparigraha can be practiced in all areas of life including our diet.
Imagine that your digestive system has a couple of junk drawers - collections of half-used stuff that was once interesting and now simply takes up space. We often hold onto things in our external and internal environments and this excess baggage holds us back. Bogs us down.
What to do?
Enter the yama of aparigraha. The conscious yogic practice of letting go.
Aparigraha can be practiced in all areas of life including our diet. We can let go of the partially digested food in our system - known as ama - by regularly consuming an appropriate amount of extractive foods.
Extractive foods encourage the release of undigested food because the bitter, pungent and astringent taste draws out metabolic toxins through the digestive process. Examples of extractive foods include legumes, leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables. Meat, fish and processed foods also fall into this category, but they are more taxing on the digestive system and not ideal for the purpose of cleansing (they may actually contribute to ama if consumed in excess and if agni is weak).
Extractive foods are necessary for cleansing and promoting lightness. However, remember that balance is key. Too much extractive food will aggravate vata dosha and weaken agni, contributing to indigestion, constipation and the accumulation of ama (the very toxins that we were trying to get rid of in the first place!). Furthermore, too much extractive food can leave us looking for a heavier, sweeter taste, and frequently leads to the desire to snack on sugary, heavy food between meals (which will weaken agni and aggravate the doshas).
So, for optimal digestion and dosha balance, your Ayurvedic plate will include 40% extractive foods and 60% augmenting foods like whole grains and sweeter vegetables. Carrots, zucchini and sweet potato fall into this category.
Here is a recipe for a tasty extractive vegetable: Baked Okra with Tumeric. Okra has the bitter taste and and part slimey, part chewy texture. And when it’s baked in the oven, it’s totally delicious.
Baked Okra with Tumeric