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Yoga isn't simply a form of physical exercise but a way of life. The practise of yoga is inherently individual, directly experienced within one's body's internal landscape. While everyone has their reasons for practising yoga, one thing is common to all and that is - to eat or not to eat (before & after a yoga session).
Since yoga involves so much bending, twisting, stretching and balancing, it is safe to avoid heavy meals that might cause digestive discomfort. With a big meal churning in your stomach, there are high chances of a little passing of gas and I don't need to tell how awkward it can be not only for you but the person standing next to you or behind you (eeks!).
Firstly, you must ensure that your diet is easily digestible. The next important aspect is the energy part. Your food must provide you with enough energy to carry on with your workouts without feeling drained. Experts say that fibre-rich natural foods can be healthy foods for yoga and should never consist of fatty foods, or sugary foods.
You'll NOT want to go for your session on an empty stomach either - I'm sure you wouldn't want your stomach making war cries in the middle of a Shavasana. Though there are various opinions out there about what to eat and what not to, let us focus on some simple foods for yoga which will not prove counter-productive to your workout. Take a look.
Rich in fibre and potassium, bananas are gentle on your stomach and they give you energy for your yoga practice. The complex carbohydrates in bananas are great for lasting energy and also, the potassium content helps prevents muscle cramps by promoting proper contraction and relaxation.
Consume 2-3 bananas at least an hour before your practice. Bananas can be included in your list of foods for yoga.
The best thing about apples is that they contain some amount of sugar which can healthily energise you. They also supply fibre and vitamins and also help hydrate your body. You can eat an apple or two half an hour before the yoga session.
Rich in vitamins and minerals and full of healthy fats, avocados help in the process of absorbing nutrients. Eating one before a yoga practice will help you feel satiated and keep your body functioning properly and without any queasy feeling, especially during that downward dog.
You can enjoy avocado with olive oil, salt and pepper or blend it into a smoothie.
Eating half a watermelon before your yoga practice can help you keep yourself hydrated and provide you with the right amount of energy for a power-packed session.
The ‘clean-up' enzyme in pineapple, called as proteases (protein-digesting enzymes) digests dead protein cells resulting from injury during the muscle-building process in your session. Eating pineapple after your yoga session can help relieve post-intense-yoga-soreness.
A single serving of kale is more than enough to provide you with the right amount of calcium for your body. Adding it to a salad and eating it before your yoga session can keep you feeling full in a healthy way, as well as promote better digestion, leaving your stomach feeling free and easy.
You can also snack on some kale chips.
7. Chia Seeds
A powerhouse of plenty of nutrients such as fibre, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, magnesium and more calcium than a glass of milk, chia seeds are a great addition to your pre-yoga breakfast.
If you wish to keep it simple, but healthy, eat a few almonds before your yoga class. Apart from supplying your body with magnesium and potassium, they also supply vitamins and ensure that your stamina levels stay high.
9. Dried Apricots
Yes, apricots, the dried ones, can be energisers before your yoga workout due to their healthy sugar content. You can carry them easily in your pocket if you are heading somewhere else for your practice.
One of the most protein-rich foods, quinoa contains all the essential amino acids. Quinoa is also gluten-free so it's a great addition to your diet as it will not make you feel unhealthily full during the asanas.
If you want some snack that contains healthy carbs before your practice session, choose oatmeal. It is easily digestible and a healthy source of carbohydrates, therefore, it can be quite filling. So, make sure you eat no more than half a cup of the cooked oats 30 minutes to an hour before your yoga session.
12. Dark Chocolate
A power addition to your yoga diet, eating some dark chocolate can help regulate blood sugar and activates the brain to boost your mood, alertness and concentration - totally fuelling your yoga practice. Consume one that has at least 70% cocoa and keep your portions in check.
13. Plain Greek Yoghurt
Packed with various nutrients, this dairy product help maintain proper digestion and promotes strong bones with its high calcium content. Eating yoghurt within 60 minutes after your yoga session can help provide essential amino acids for restoring those stretched-out muscles.
Put down the coffee and start your day with warm water and maybe some lemon. To kick-start your digestive system the healthy way and to help alkalise the body, drink a glass of warm water in the morning. The water can also help keep the joints and muscles healthy while practising your yoga moves.
You can consume juices that contain fruits or vegetables as a part of your yoga diet. You can get rid of the toxins in your body with the help of those juices. From kale to collards, mustard greens to arugula, dark leafy greens are brimming with vitamins C, E and K, iron, fibre and calcium, and so much more.
Make an energizing green smoothie by mixing a few green apple slices, honeydew melon, leafy greens like spinach or kale, kiwi slices and lemon juice in a blender with some almond milk and a few ice cubes.
Best Indian Foods For A Yogic Diet
Apart from the aforementioned foods, here are some healthy foods that are specific to an Indian diet and follow principles of Ayurveda and yogic diet and they are as follows:
- Millet/barley flatbreads (bajra/jowar roti)
- Palak (spinach) paneer
- Rawa (semolina) upma, also called as khara bath
- Dahi/curd rice
- Green mung dal (green mung beans) chilla/pesarattu
- Kosimbhir/kachumber (salad)
- Masala dalia with chaas
On A Final Note...
Whatever you decide to snack on, always remember to keep your portions small and allow it some time to digest. Develop a morning routine and make sure to rehydrate after yoga sessions. Avoid consuming greasy or fried foods. Hard-boiled eggs and garlic foods.