Along with yoga, I love to run. Being light weight makes it easier to run because you have less to carry around for however many miles you’re going. Yoga is similar in that it requires you to feel balanced through your diet in order to support a healthy practice. Someone once told me, “Do yoga and healthy eating will follow.” A healthful diet may look different from one person to the next but there are some basic ideas that must be addressed. You know what you eat works for you when you feel strong, your digestion is working well, you feel healthy, are able to sleep well, and your practice is fueled by the food you eat. Ayurveda (India’s 5,000 year old approach to health) plays a role here too as different people are made of a different mix of Ayurvedic energies or doshas. Thus, what one person cannot tolerate, another person may thrive off of. Thus, find out what type of doshas your body constitutes. You can learn more about doshas here and here.
Before stepping on the mat, it is common for someone to not have eaten in a while. In my humble opinion, this is not beneficial. It will hinder your practice if you have over eaten before practicing but a little bit of food to get you through something more difficult like a power yoga class, is sometimes necessary. Teresa Bradford, a clinical nutritionist states: “When students get spaced out from food deprivation, they might think they’re heading toward the ‘big merge’ with God, but it’s just that they’re walking around hypoglycemic and dehydrated.” Don’t let this be you! Food is fuel. Allow your body the fuel it needs to get you through the day and your practice healthy and energized.
Eating, just like yoga and meditation, requires mindfulness. Think about what you’re putting into your body. Are you consuming things that have a lot of nutrients even in small doses? Or are you eating things that have no nutrients but have a high caloric value? I really like nutritiondata.com for seeing what foods are worth eating and which ones aren’t. Also a person’s diet is highly individual. For example, my roommate has a lot more trouble with her digestion that I do, spurring her to eat completely differently from me. We are both healthy people. Some people turn to veganism or vegetarianism. I am not partial to these methods of eating because I am a triathlete for UCLA. I need meat and dairy products for the protein they provide. So do what works for you but remember that yogis believe the body is our spirit’s temple during our visit here on earth. I firmly believe this and so I try my best to be good to my body. It has gotten me through a lot and I plan on treating it well in return. I am also a supporter of the Primal Blueprint, a diet that consists mostly of fruits, vegetables, nuts, oils, meat, and seafood. I feel best about myself and my body feels best when I follow this nutrition plan. So follow what your body needs and remember to be mindful in your choices and respectful towards your body. What are some foods or diets that you believe help you on the mat? What do you eat before stepping on the mat? Do you have any overriding beliefs about food that help you live the lifestyle you love? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
photo via Darwin Bell