Every yoga expert on the planet will tell you one thing – you should not eat anything heavy two hours before you plan to do yoga. If you have play deaf to this advice, you will soon discover the reason behind this conventional wisdom. As you jump on your mat and twist and bend, it is uncomfortable, and possibly even nauseating, to have too much in your belly. However, you do want to go into class with a good amount of energy and without the distraction of hunger gnawing at your belly.
With just a little bit of planning, you can manage your snack schedule so that you hit that place between full and starving just right. Some traditions, particularly those that advocate early morning practice, like Ashtanga, advise that you do your asanas on a completely empty stomach. If this is difficult for you, you can have coffee, cocoa, or milk before yoga.
When to Eat
Eating something very light an hour before class usually works out well. If you are in a hurry to go to a class after work or on a tight schedule and realize that you just have to eat something, you can take just a few nibbles of something like fruit or nuts.
After class, you can eat whenever you feel hungry, though you may notice that the attention you have given to your body during class encourages you to keep it light and healthy, which is one of the ways yoga can help you lose weight.
What to Eat
Healthy plant-based nibbles are ideal food.
The deep twists and forward bends you do in yoga are particularly likely to force out burps and gas, so you want to avoid things that induce those.
• Fruit & Protein: a piece of high fiber fruit plus protein, like an apple with nut butter, is a good solution. A bowl of berries with a little yogurt is another option. A banana is also a great choice.
• Nuts: a handful of almonds or some of your favorite nuts.
• Bars: the high fiber, high protein, low sugar bar of your choice.
• Grains: oatmeal or other cooked grains also work out well.
What Not to Eat
• Anything greasy or fried: When you start exercising you will definitely regret if you had a burger and fries before class.
• Hard boiled eggs: good for protein, bad for burps. Ups!
• Garlicky foods: Same principle as above.
• Smoothies: some people love their pre-yoga smoothies. If they work for you, great, but they can also slosh around in your stomach, particularly in poses where there is pressure on your abdomen like salabhasana. Better to save the smoothie for an after-class treat.■