Unlike all other exercises… what to eat before yoga is… nothing.
Doing yoga on an empty stomach makes you feel amazing and really helps you focus on your bandha. Not to mention, a lot of the poses involve inversions that stimulate your digestive system. Hence, doing yoga while your food is digesting can lead to a lot of discomfort. I find I get bloated, and the poses are executed poorly because of my inability to move comfortably.
If you are doing yoga in the morning, it’s easy to hold off on breakfast, however if you’re doing yoga in the middle of the day or during the night, give yourself around 3 hours beforehand – food free. If you have a hard time lasting three hours between snacks or meals, the recommended snack would be a fruit. If you are having a meal, definitely give yourself 2 hours to let your food digest. Furthermore, if you are to ingest fruit, try to give yourself 30-45mins to let even that digest. I’m telling you from experience, eating food before yoga can put a lot of pressure on your digestive system making you feel like the food will exit your body north or south. Gross, I know, but sadly true. What you should consume before yoga is water. Water is essential in preventing you from getting lightheaded during your practice… but you also don’t want to be leaving to go to the washroom in the middle of practice.
Also, you don’t want to eat before practice because you want the blood to circulate throughout your entire body. If you have food being digested, the blood will be pumping more so towards your digestive tract.
It’s important though to gradually change your body’s eating habits, not put it through a shock. There are certain foods that are just an obvious “no” to not eat before workouts – which would be gas releasing, bloating, spicy foods that increase your chances of digestive issues. However, if you have a high tolerance, by all means have that, just try to gradually move the meal earlier before your practice. Also keep in mind that foods with higher fat content will take longer to digest, so adjust the time accordingly.
What about after a yoga class?
Give your body 30 minutes to adjust, and then eat away! Try and eat healthily and avoid eating too quickly. Your body has had a large break without food and the first thing it needs is water. Yoga detoxifies your body which makes it that much more important to consume water before and after your practice. Also, the stimulation of digestion through yoga is aided by the consumption of water.
All of these point are suggestions I have come up with based on research, what I have been told, and personal experience. Whatever works for you, works for you, and like I said before, you don’t want to change your habits too quickly. Small changes can lead to you discovering a whole new comfort level in your practice that will make you want to hold off on eating until afterwards, trust me!
(Pictures found: www.meetup.com)