Timing is everything, they say.
And I absolutely believe that cliché. It was when I was in the process of moving back to Atlanta from Columbus, Ohio that I met my life partner. And when I first moved to Columbus, I walked into a yoga studio to apply to teach there. The owner was reading Yoga Journal and was on the page of my DVD review. Timing, y’all. It really does matter so very much.
Let’s talk about the yoga diet
We all know the stereotype of the vegan yogi who basically lives on what they can pick from their garden. They can essentially subsist on greens, good vibes, and downward facing dog pose. This is bullshit, for the most part. There are a whole lotta yogis who eat everything and anything. I even know an avid hunter who practices five days a week and just completed his 200-hour yoga teacher training.
Many people who have tried to become either vegetarians or vegans report that they became sick as a result. There are also loads of happy, healthy folks who do not eat any animal products. And there’s a ton of people, like me, who are pescatarians (they only consume fish). Everyone has to make their own personal choices about what they consume and why. When trying to define a yoga diet, it’s the timing, quantity, quality, and specific foods consumed before a practice that really matter.
The yoga diet breakdown
These are the important things to keep in mind when developing your own yoga diet:
- Self-care is your primary focus. Taking the very best care of your body by nourishing it with the foods you need, crave, and that help you feel your best. If there’s truly a yoga diet, this is it. Eating with thoughtfulness and gratitude for having sustenance plus choosing wisely are the pillars of a so-called yoga diet.
- Practice on a relatively empty stomach. Make sure you haven’t eaten anything of real substance for about two hours before you enjoy an asana practice. Twists do not feel good on a full stomach. All movement goes better if you’re not in need of loosening your pants. If you’re uncomfortable, it will be pretty tough to enjoy your practice.
- Certain foods digest easier than others. I ate a bean burrito one time, ONE, a couple of hours before going to a ninety-minute vinyasa yoga class. It was a very bad call. Salads are good. Even sandwiches are fine as long as they include a lot of healthy ingredients and nothing heavy that will weigh you down.
- Skip the sugar. Sugar. Do you just live for it? That might be an issue during practice. Sugar crashes are real and not at all fun while you’re in the middle of a practice.
- Pacing. If you’re anything like me, you typically eat as though you’ve been held hostage and this is probably your very last meal, slow your roll. Chew your food thoughtfully and deliberately to enjoy it to the fullest extent and digest it more efficiently.
- Portions. You can eat two eggs and a tomato, or you can eat five with two thick slices of bread. Smaller portions also digest faster and easier. Save the big meal for after your practice. Often, even most of the time, less is more.
- Quality. Fresh food will always win out over processed. Whenever possible, go for fresh produce, protein, and grains.
Use this guide to help you make the best food decisions you can today. Observe how you feel physically, mentally, and emotionally. Once you reflect on your chosen yoga diet, keep these choices in mind every day that guided you so well today.