Within Ayurveda, cooking is held as better for unlocking the properties of our food, thereby making it easier to digest. However, those fresh shoots of spring & summer, eaten in as natural a state as possible are great providers of prana; our life force & vital energy. Too much raw, on the other hand, raises vata; those airy, ethereal elements of body & mind which can see us imbalanced & depleted. Under Ayurveda imbalance between the three doshas of vata, pitta & kapha leads to ill-health unless addressed. Yoga, the Vedic sibling of Ayurveda, often emphasises raw food more in its dietary principles. This is not disagreement but context. Where Ayurveda is aimed at everyone & emphasises optimal bodily health, yoga seeks to move beyond the limitations of the physical body & body consciousness towards self-realisation. For most of us, even if we are seeking a spiritual path, to jump to such a stage would be to the detriment of our wellbeing. For ordinary people & more casual yogis, the Ayurvedic diet is the best route to a balanced body, mind & spirit & the best leg-up on such a path. Raw food is best eaten apart from cooked food & held to lunchtime when our digestive fire is most aflame. We should source organically grown, seasonal produce in as fresh & natural a condition as possible & eat it slowly & mindfully. Most of all we should listen to our bodies & minds. When cold, dry, low or depleted we should dodge the raw salad in favour of one comprised of cooked elements or a bolstering summery soup.