- Hervé Ndyanabo Mugisha
Food, Diet and You: An insightful interview with yogis Harpreet and Sanprem
Harpreet is a P.h.D student in biomedical engineering. She is an entrepreneur who has already founded a few companies, including a vegan catering company and an all-natural ingredient cosmetic company that allows skin pores to breathe. Sanprem has been in computer engineering and is currently exploring new dimensions within himself, including 3D animation and graphic design.
Q: Thank you for doing this interview with me. Can you introduce yourselves to our readers?
A: Our names are Sanprem and Harpreet, we are Kundalini yoga teachers.
(Sanprem): When I discovered Kundalini yoga, I realized how miseducated we are about our bodies. We know so much about the outside world, we know about stars that are billions of light-years away but we don’t know who we are and what we should eat, or how to maintain our health. When I realized Kundalini yoga holds all these answers, I decided to go through with it, that’s why I do what I do.
(Harpreet): A little of the same for me as well, because in Kundalini yoga you find so many answers to plenty of topics that nobody talks about. First, of course, do it for yourself. Begin to practice. With this practice, you learn how to be present in life, how to use your personality, how to build it and clean it so you can have a beautiful projection of yourself and interact accordingly with people.
Q: Is yoga a cult?
A: (Sanprem): A “cult” in most languages has a very negative connotation. Anything can be a cult. In practicing Kundalini yoga, you are so sharp and perceptive that it’s hard to be fooled into a cult against your best interest.
(Harpreet): As he said, a cult can be seen in any activity, for example, someone that goes to the gym every day. When someone goes to the gym, they have a very specific way to dress, specific types of food they would like to eat, etc. In that sense, yeah sure, but really it is a way of life.
Q: What is Kundalini Yoga?
A: This branch of yoga has been practiced for thousands of years in India. It is an energetically powerful activity and a lifestyle. If you look at your body like an instrument, i.e: a computer, there are many ways to use a computer. Kundalini Yoga is a broad and deep “program” or technique to achieve certain results. It is fast, effective, demanding, engaging, allows a person to not have to dedicate their entire life to monastic life in order to see results [relating to body, mind, and spirit] in 20 years. If you commit to your practice, you will start to see changes. you will start to see magic, to feel your body differently, breaking through your traumas, past experiences, etc. Everything changes, you will feel like you are being pushed by this energy. Most of the time, when a person does Kundalini yoga for the first time, they can feel that something is way different even when it is a simple sequence.
Q: What kinds of diets are there again?
A: There are many. There is a carnivorous diet (includes animal flesh), pescatarian (only includes fish), Lacto-vegetarian (includes milk), There is vegetarianism, and the most restrictive, would be vegan diet (no animal products, sometimes even honey), and raw diet.
Q: What are food groups?
A: The body needs 3 different food groups, proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Proteins for building muscle, fats are used for energy, carbs are for structure. The challenge is to recognize these 3 categories in the foods on our plates. Fruits are made of a lot of vitamins and water, they are a burst of energy and help make the body feel alive. The natural sugar in them is good for brain activity. Fruits are strongly recommended when you are a student. Do not eat after a meal because they ferment faster than the other foods in cue to be digested. This produces alcohol in the body, which is not helpful for the liver. Many people say “we are what we eat”, well it is true. It follows that ingesting an animal that was fed the same thing, that grew in some crowded, tight space and that never saw sunlight, we risk being negatively affected. Food production, the meat industry especially, has alienated us from our food so much that we can pet a cow and eat a burger with the other hand! We do not connect these things. In yoga, there are three types of food; sattvic, rajasic, and tamasic. Tamasic meaning dead food (stagnate), rajasic is more active, and sattvic is pure energy or simply, light.
Q: How do you personally eat?
A: It is always a process of discovering and readjusting all the time. The transition to vegan happened slowly. I never made a decision to cut off milk, but somehow it happened. The diet can never be forceful. You need to understand or feel some sort of urge to do this. Listen to your body. For some people, it is easy and quick to transition when they receive the information. Other people will take way more time to transition, perhaps due to emotional trauma, etc.
(Harpreet): My advice to someone interested would be to start the transition by removing dairy. In one week, you will see it in your skin! It is a very fun experience. I lost 20kg in 2 weeks of dropping dairy. After that, I said no more dairy. Many people are actually lactose intolerant. Cow milk is full of hormones intended for veals to grow a lot and do so quickly. If you stop milk for a week, you won’t feel inflated anymore.
(Sanprem): To transition, it was very important for me to have an understanding that we don’t need meat to survive. That’s for sure. It is very powerful, almost like a drug, it is so exciting for the body to eat meat that you are addicted. There is going to be a little withdrawal. But first comes a decision, one backed by good information. Historically meat was a luxury. It was only eaten on a special occasion. Peasants bred pigs for the lords in castles, whom, having never interacted with the animals when alive, called the meat pork. In this same way, cow became beef and so on. The first time I cut off meat, I did so without replacing it with anything! Just eating salads left me starving. Then I learned some recipes. It is a learning curve. I suggest a very easy hi-tech solution if you are thinking of switching diets, follow hashtags on Instagram like #veganbeautifuldishes, etc. So you know, at least on a visual level, that there are appealing alternatives. Careful not to get overwhelmed. In our minds, we tend to think that vegan is grass from the lawn. But in actuality, it is in the vegan department that I have had some of the tastiest meals.
Q: What are the organs most affected by a long-term, junk-food diet?
A: Well, the liver a lot since it filters everything, the intestines a lot since they absorb everything. It’s hard for the body to absorb all these high energy meats, it wears out the organism more. The heart because food goes into the blood at some point, and arteries can clog. Cardiovascular diseases are actually the leading cause of death. I think stroke is second. The skin is also very affected by a highly acidic diet. This can often be witnessed on the sensitive skin of the face.
Q: What would you add in conclusion?
A: A general way to replace meat (which is protein+carb) is by a combination of beans or nuts, with cereals. No need to reinvent the wheel, just make the same recipes, but slowly change the ingredients that are not needed anymore. Also, if it is just the taste of meat that you like, nowadays we have many options for fake meat. Burgers, sausages, salami, chicken, and more. Available at any store and online (Maxi, Wal-Mart, Metro, Provigo). People think becoming vegetarian costs a lot. This is not the case. I believe meat costs way more in the quantities that we take it. The first step is what you eat. Then maybe what you see, the music you hear, who you surround yourself with. Everything you consume makes up your building blocs.
Thanks to Sanprem and Harpreet for doing this interview. You can find them on Facebook under Kundalini Nomads. There, you will find videos of full yoga sets for you to follow along to! You can also attend live sessions every week via Zoom. With home confinement, the economy, politics and the winter setting in, now would be a good time to invest in our well being. Kundalini yoga can help us find that inner youthful energy and ease tension build-up in the body, mind, and spirit. Thank you.
Llaila O. Afrika, African Holistic Health.
“ Cooked foods (fried, salty, sugary, slimy, pasty) causes a rise in organ temperature. The constant demand on digestive organs to try to metabolize cooked foods and neutralize the harmful chemicals made by cooked foods causes thermal fatigue. The United Nations World Health Organization data indicates that 97% of primary cancers start at heat exhausted organs such as the prostate.”(pp. 199)
“Flesh eating increases the workload of the kidneys and liver. It is usually cooked, which dehydrates the meat and dehydrates the consumer of meat. Consequently, this decreases immunity and degenerates the body. Aside from this, the animals secrete adrenaline into their bodies as a reaction to the fear caused by the slaughterhouse. This adrenaline poisons the flesh, creates toxins and becomes a chemical stress when eaten.” (pp. 215)