What to eat before and after yoga

Though it is ideal to do yoga early morning and on an empty stomach, considering today’s hectic lifestyles, people have to squeeze in their exercise and yoga practice whenever they find time. Eating the right food before and after yoga is thus crucial to its success; also when to eat.

Though heavy meals should be avoided, in case it happens, allow 3 – 4 hours to pass before starting your yoga practice; 1 to 2 hours after a light meal and 30 – 45 minutes after having juice, fresh fruits, etc. and 15 minutes after drinking water. If yoga is done in the morning, shortly after waking up, on an empty stomach is preferred.

               Slow energy-releasing foods like dairy products, grains

However, if the practice is started 1 – 2 hours after waking up, one’s metabolic rate and food requirements should be considered. It may be advisable to have easy to digest food like fresh fruits (bananas are a great source of potassium) or juice at least 45 minutes before practice. In case of a fast metabolism or long and fairly strenuous travel to reach (by public transport or driving one’s car) nuts, dry fruits or even a light snack (slow energy-releasing foods like dairy products, grains) may also be considered as a feeling of hunger will be distracting during practice and the body may not have enough energy to perform asanas efficiently.

If yoga cannot be done in the morning, the second best time is in the evening before dinner, given one is not tired. The same rules apply in terms of food before as in case of late morning yoga. Dinner after yoga practice should be light with plenty of protein-rich food (peanut butter and seeds for example) as this will keep muscle soreness to a minimum. An ideal yogic diet would consist of grains, dairy products, vegetables, fruits, nuts, honey and nutritive roots. Foods to be avoided at all times are aerated drinks and spicy, overly salty or fried food as this adds little or no nutrition and contributes to a feeling of tiredness and sluggishness.

As a yoga novice or after practices that go very deep and involve overcoming physical, mental or emotional obstacles, a feeling of hunger may be intense at times. Avoiding a heavy meal, especially at night, do listen to your body and give it the extra food it needs in terms of easily digestible options like fruits, juices and light, healthy snacks. Never eat directly after yoga; give your body about 30 minutes to re-acclimate itself.

Last but not least, water: Yoga practitioners should have a glass of water 15 -30 minutes before the practice and refrain from drinking water during class as that will distract the body from giving full attention to the asanas, diverting it to processing and digesting water instead. Avoid drinking cold/very cold water at any times as this means the body has to expend extra energy to heat that water up before it can be expelled (or have you ever heard of ice cold urine?).

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