Many of us who practice yoga know what we shouldn’t be eating before yoga class, but there is often a bit of confusion around what we should eat, how much of it and (most importantly) why. Yoga, after all, is often associated with rather extreme eating guidelines, with key assumptions being to fast for several hours before attending class or to attend class upon awakening (i.e. on an empty stomach). And while that might work for some, the modern day yogi (like, ahem, me) might find this rather extreme.
Here’s what to eat before yoga class (and why).
For starters, here are some general guidelines I have found helpful to consider before rolling out that mat:
- Am I hydrated? Always be sure to hydrated before class (and throughout the day if you plan to practice later on).
- How hungry am I? Don’t confuse dehydration for hunger before attending a class.
- Do I feel energized? Aim to feel light and energized, not full and heavy.
If you practice first thing in the morning drinking a tall, warm glass of lemon water is ideal; simply squeeze in some fresh lemon juice or add a few drops of lemon essential oil to help the body wake up and get moving. I’m mindful of eating 1 – 2 hours before yoga, but we are all different so tuning into your body, and what you need, is key.
If you are one to practice in the morning and want to nourish yourself upon awakening, I would suggest blended nutrition. Think smoothies, fresh pressed juices and smoothie bowls—something along those blended lines that won’t weigh you down. Even a whole banana or apple is going to be harder to digest than an awesome superfood smoothie. Your energy will be used to digest the food instead of your practice, leaving you feeling heavy and uncomfortable while practicing. Start by drinking half the smoothie and finishing the rest after your practice. If you feel light-headed or low in energy while practicing, you’ll know to finish the entire smoothie next time. Trust yourself, and do what feels good for your body.
Here, my favorite light (yet vibrant!) superfood smoothie and smoothie bowl to eat before I practice yoga.
THE PRE-YOGA SMOOTHIE
- 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
- 1/2 cup frozen cauliflower
- 1/2 avocado or banana
- 1 1/2 cup of almond/hemp milk
- 1/2 scoop of superfood blend or vegan protein (I use philosophie)
THE PRE-YOGA SMOOTHIE BOWL
- 1/2 cup frozen cauliflower
- 1 cup of berries, banana, mango or peaches (low-acid fruits)
- 1 scoop vital proteins or superfood blend (I use philosophie)
- 1-2 cups coconut water, filtered water or hemp/almond milk
- 1 tsp chia or flax seeds
- Add spices or one drop of essential oil: Cardamom, ginger, clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, peppermint, basil, turmeric. (Very soothing and healing for the body.)
- Add desired toppings, but keep light and to a minimum: Bee pollen, cacoa nibs, coconut shreds, goji berries, crushed almonds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, mulberries.
If you practice in the afternoon, or after work, and you feel famished, try a scoop of nut butter or coconut butter. A handful of nuts and seeds or half an avocado will also keep you feeling nourished, but not full.
Like yoga, what is right for one person is not necessary going to work for someone else. Nutrition is no different: Modifying your food with the intention of staying hydrated, consuming mindfully, and feeling light will ultimately lead to your best, most vibrant yoga practice.
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