An intelligent and comprehensive understanding of the various obstacles that act as stumbling blocks in the path of God-realisation is indispensably requisite for an aspirant.
According to Patanjali Maharshi the following are the obstacles in God-realisation:
Vyadhi- styana- samsaya-pramada-alasya-avirati-bhrani
Diseases, remission of Sadhana, doubt, carelessness, laziness, worldly-mindedness, illusion, false perception, tossing of mind and inability to remain in the state of Samadhi on account of Vikshepa are the obstacles in the path of God-Realisation. (I-30.)
You will find in the Yoga-Kundalini-Upanishad:
“Diseases are generated in one’s body through the following causes, viz., sleeping in the day time, late vigils overnight, excess of sexual intercourse, moving in crowd, the checking of the urine and feces, the evil of unwholesome food and laborious mental operations with Prana. “
God-realisation is not possible without Sadhana or spiritual practice. Spiritual practice is not possible without good health. A sickly, dilapidated body stands in the way of doing Abhyasa or discipline. The aspirant should try his level best to keep good health always by regular exercise, Asana, Pranayama, moderation in diet, walking, running in open air, regularity in his work, meals, sleep, etc. He should avoid drugging as far as possible. He must take recourse to nature cure such as fresh air, wholesome food, cold bath and dietetic adjustment. He should always keep a cheerful attitude of mind, under all conditions of life. Cheerfulness is a powerful mental tonic.
Vedanta says: “Have no attachment for this body. But keep it clean, strong and healthy for constant rigid Sadhana. This body is a boat to cross to the other shore of Immortality. It is a horse to take you to the destination. Feed the horse well-but give up ‘mine-ness’.”
Impure and Immoderate Food
Mind is formed out of the subtlest portion of food. If the food is impure, the mind also becomes impure. Food plays an important part in the evolution of mind. It has direct influence on the mind. Meat, fish, eggs, stale, unwholesome food, onions, garlic etc., should be avoided by spiritual practitioners as they excite passion and anger. The food should be simple, bland, light, wholesome and nutritious. Liquors and narcotics should be strictly abandoned. Chillies, condiments, spiced dishes, pungent articles, hot things, things that are sour, sweetmeats etc., must be rejected.
Aspirants should not overload the stomach. Ninety per cent of diseases take their origin in immoderation in diet. People have developed a strong habit of eating more food than what is actually necessary from their very boyhood. Overloading brings drowsiness and sleep immediately. The night-meals should be very light for Sadhakas. Half a seer of milk, with one or two plantains is quite sufficient. Overloading is the chief factor in bringing night-pollution.
Excerpts from “Practice of Bhakti Yoga” by Swami Sivananda