Food for thought.
A real tip for feeling your best during your yoga practice is to be aware of when and what you eat before yoga class. Most people will recommend that you don’t eat a heavy meal 2 to 3 hours before you practice. I am not a nutritionist but I can say I tend to feel better when I do my practice on an empty or near empty stomach.
You must listen to your body. If you feel sluggish or lack energy during your practice, maybe you need a little something an hour or so before class, maybe a handful of nuts or half a banana. Or you may find that if you eat anything you feel “Icky” during your first Down Dog. Start with the “less is more” concept. Use your intuition and some trial and error until you find what works for you. Ancient texts suggest that “the yoga practitioner became sensitized enough through the practice to intuitively know what is best for them as an individual.”
Many yoga poses twist our mid-section; others put our head lower than our hips. These can give us a feeling of acid reflux and disturb our minds and our practice. So it seems to make sense that it may be more about how much we eat more than what we eat. I would rather see students eat a yogurt rather than a cheese steak before class.
Fresh light foods (Sattvik) for me are best. Sattvik foods are light in nature, easy to digest, mildly cooling, refreshing and not disturbing to the mind. Think of how you feel after you eat a mango and compare that to how your feel after you eat chicken wings and a basket of French fries.
Some foods I have tried or have been recommended: Yogurt, pretzels, Dried fruits, nuts, fresh fruit (non-acidic), I love a piece of chocolate, but just a small amount will do.
Some foods to avoid are heavy foods such as pizza, pasta, meat, chesses, spicy foods, foods with sauces, any oily dressings, acidic fruits and fruit juices or drinks like OJ, Soda, coffee. Don’t eat a couple of donuts and expect to feel ready to stand on your head. And beans (ahem) can give us other problems.
During longer classes or workshops (3 or 4 hours or longer) you may find a snack is helpful. Keep it small and highly energy rich. Nuts, dried fruit, even a sports drink or energy gels are good. Dried figs and a handful of almonds always work for me.
After Practice, don’t rush to eat. Wait to feel truly hungry. And don’t let this good thing you just did for yourself go to waste. Eat a healthy meal. Drink plenty of water. Yoga asana releases toxins in the body, so drinking water can help cleanse your system of these toxins.
I guess we have to go there. Many think you need to be a vegetarian or on a special diet to be a yogi. Not true… however. Many, including myself, after studying yoga and the yogic texts find that eating a vegetarian diet is something they want to do. Ahimsa is a part of yogic texts that says we should not do harm, to anyone or anything. Ahimsa is a cornerstone of yogic study. How can we find a tranquil mind if we are responsible for killing animals for food? So not eating animals is something that you might end up considering.
Finally share (in comments) with your fellow yogis any foods you do or do not like to eat around your yoga practice. We can all use some good food tips!
Bruno Circolo © 2013