Nutrition and Yoga
Nutrition and Yoga
A common misconception of a yogi or yogini, one who practices yoga, is that all who practice are vegetarian or vegan. I believe what one chooses to put in their body is a personal choice, but there are some basics for proper nutrition. The basics include fresh vegetables and fruits, legumes, protein, healthy fats, fiber, and of course plenty of water.
A positive side-effect of a consistent yoga practice is that it will serve as a nutritional guide. As you practice and observe your body, you will immediately identify the body's energy levels and you will become more attuned to the connection to certain foods that were consumed or not consumed on a particular day. For example, if you eat fried or fatty foods, you will notice the body feels sluggish. Also true is that if you do not eat enough food, you may also feel the body as sluggish and/or low energy.
Rest assured that there is no dietary prerequisite to practice yoga. Good nutrition will help by giving the body energy to perform properly. As you become more tuned into your body, you will notice that the body performs better when you are hydrated and energized. Fresh foods will help give you the energy you need, so pay close attention by including a variety of vegetables, legumes, protein, fiber, fruits, and nuts. Avoid fried foods, fast-foods, processed foods, and just plain over-eating.
As for any yoga or meditation session, it is always better to practice on an empty stomach. It is more challenging to be mentally focused on a full stomach, and it is also very challenging to get into postures after eating. Without a full stomach, the process of the digestive system will not be interrupted. Also, your practice will not be made more challenging because of painful compressions or stretches on and/or around the abdominal area. You can count on all postures affecting the abdominal area, including back-bending or forward compressions.
Although the body energy will fluctuate from day to day, you will feel the immediate effects of poor nutrition (including alcohol) in your daily practice. This leads to another important dietary consideration, which is proper hydration. To clarify, the basic requirement for proper daily hydration is equivalent to half of one's own body weight in ounces. For example, if you weigh 100 pounds, you need 50 ounces of water daily which is equivalent to about 6-7 eight-ounce glasses of water. If you do strenuous activity which causes sweating, or if you consume alcohol or caffeine, you will need to increase the daily intake. Proper hydration is not only needed for proper functioning of the muscles and joints but also for the heart, lungs, brain, and kidneys.
As you bring more awareness to your life by incorporating yoga and meditation practice, try to bring the same awareness to the foods you choose and place in your body.