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Vrat (Fast) is being deprived of food & water or any liquid food intake for a short period of time with a purpose.
In fact, before anyone considers fasting for any duration or any sort like fasting of food or water should have a definite purpose for the same.
There are many scientific, health and spiritual reasons & benefits of fasting, one of the oldest way to cure and rejuvenate in history.
But what really could be a reason for fasting?
Medical reasons & benefits –
In a few cases it is observed before some medical tests or surgery, doctors & surgeons advice force stop of food & liquid intake prior to the treatment for a short duration. This is to prevent aspiration of stomach contents.
Doctors & dieticians also suggest fasting of various forms for weight loss, calorie/diet management, muscle growth, to improve heart health, give alertness to the body & increase focus, blood pressure, brain function, cancer prevention and simply boasting metabolism.
Spiritual reasons & benefits –
Any and all religions have a history of fasting with different beliefs, durations & sorts.
Spiritually fasting is done for Gods, planets, Gurus, for some festivals and more.
Spiritually benefits include – the lesson of self-control, purification of Mind & body at the spiritual level, donation and devotion.
Few common types of fasts are:
- Water fasting: drinking only water for a fixed duration (example for 1 day in a week/month).
- Fruit fasting: eating only fruits for a fixed duration usually without any flavors or salt & sugar.
- Juice fasting: similar to fruit fasting; only drinking fruit or vegetable juices for a fixed duration
- Partial fasting: Certain foods or drinks such as non-vegetarian food, animal products, dairy product or caffeine & nicotine are eliminated from the diet for a fixed duration.
- Calorie restriction: Calories are restricted for a few days example skipping meals or having one meal a day for some duration.
- Intermittent fasting: Intake is partially or completely restricted for a few hours up to a few days at a time and a normal diet is resumed on other days.
- Dry fasting: it is a next level fasting not recommended without doctor’s advice, it is done by simply not having any intake or even water for a short duration.
- Long fasting: fasting for a longer duration together with a specific diet, this should be only done with a dietician or doctor’s advice with a proper meal plan.
I fast in the middle of every week, Wednesday. It has a health and spiritual approach. As per Hindu religion it’s day of Lord Ganesha or Budha(Mercury) – the lord of wisdom, voice(communication) and business/commerce. I being the follower of Lord Budha, I keep my body pure at a spiritual level. I wake up & post my meditation, Yoga Practice and bath I do Pooja(worship) I chant this mantra of Lord Budha for wisdom
Om bum budhaaya Namah
My health approach is since it is the middle of the week, I feel detoxification and lower level of calories to balance my full week’s diet.
My personal observations are- Every Wednesday I feel more energetic and moreover, super focused. I literally feel like doing 3 days work in one day.
My diet includes 1 cup of black coffee, some fruits like apple, plain salad, banana or papaya without salt, sugar or any flavor & 4-5 liters of water.
How to start fasting?
Fasting starts with observation & purpose. Whether is health reason or spiritual, depending on your sadhna or your belief to any Guru, God or Religion? The first step to prepare your body mentally for a fast with specific reasons or motto for fasting. The next step is holding on caffeine, nicotine, tranquilizers, food or in other words simply making a wise habit of choosing what to eat & what not even if you are not fasting, to prepare at body level. It is simply a discipline or schedule of having your food at all times. In fact, we can see the discipline of food intake in animals too, they do follow a cycle when they stop eating food or having water sometimes when they are sick or they are following the cycle of detoxification. The final step is making our selves strong, if our motto of fasting is to hold on for having food for 2 days and boasting it among our friends or other Yogi’s definitely this is no purpose, in fact, it is making our selves weak mentally. Finally, to adopt any fasting to diet change it is advisable to check with your dietician or doctor.
Fasting for Yoga –
For Yogis, Yoga is a faith. The faith in our own selves. When we have faith in ourselves we have an ability to heal ourselves. It is against our fear, fear of survival in our life without food. We have this belief in our mind that if we do not eat 2-3 times meals a day, we may feel & become weak. This fear stops us to learn, explore and observe the human level of body consciousness and experience what extent our body can do?
The greatest and the deepest meaning of Vrata or fast for a Yogi are to hold a positive attitude, faith, and belief. Doing regular fasting, Pranayama (breathing techniques), meditation & Yoga makes a Yogi be in the higher state of consciousness and allow our physical body to perform at levels beyond our imagination.
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– Susheel Kumar Pandey, DGOODTRIP