What Not to Eat Before Yoga

By Jill Lawson for DietsInReview.com

A yogic diet varies from tradition to tradition, yet they all are diets that involve very little processed, overly spicy or stale and overcooked food. For some, changing the way we currently eat just because we go to yoga is not our first call to action.

If your diet is lacking in total yogic purity you don’t have to stop practicing yoga. Just make a few adjustments a few hours before class. Who knows, it may spark your interest to follow a yogic diet one hundred percent of the time.

Avoid the following foods before yoga for maximum results and added comfort in your practice.

Three Bean Salad

This is a good one to avoid for obvious reasons. Eating beans has an effect on the digestive system and that does not bode well for a quiet, peaceful yoga session. Even though your three bean salad recipe might be gluten free, completely vegan and extremely nutritious, steer clear of it until after yoga. Nothing is more challenging (and harmful to your health) than having to deny your need to pass gas. And if you happen to pass gas in class, the potential embarrassment you might feel could wipe out any calm and relaxed feelings you’ve gained from your hard work on the mat. It is just not worth the stress.

Garlic or Onions

Yoga traditions that stem from Vedanta philosophy, such as Sivananda Yoga, suggest it is best to completely avoid eating garlic and onions at all times. The reason for this is because the Vedanta swamis believed these two types of foods have a stimulating effect on the brain, and that excess stimulation leads to distraction from an introspective and meditative lifestyle.

While most of us understand garlic and onions as having many health benefits from strengthening the body’s immune system to warding off infections, ingesting them right before yoga is not such a good idea. I have put it to the test. If nothing else, the taste of garlic and the smell of it on my breath was enough to thwart my concentration and focus, defeating the whole purpose of my practice that day.

Steak, Eggs or Fish

Not all yogis are vegetarians, as the yogic diet can surprisingly include eating meat on occasion. Yet meat products are considered to be “tamasic.” In the yoga tradition this means they carry the energetic quality of something lifeless and dead. Ingesting something with little or no “prana” (life force) tends to rob the body of its own vital life force energy. For some, there are times when eating fish, eggs or a little steak may be appropriate as well as ritualistic, but before yoga, either of these foods will only instill a sense of heavy, lifeless and low energy.

Diet Soda

I wouldn’t recommend drinking diet soda at any time, but for those who can’t live without it, at least try and avoid it before yoga. Not only will the caffeine make you nervous and anxious (two feelings most people do yoga to avoid) the carbonation in your soda will have you belching up a storm every time you move your body into a forward bend. In addition, the artificial sweeteners in diet sodas are unnatural and may have a harmful effect on your endocrine system when you are flushing your glands and organs with fresh blood during yoga.

Ice Cream

There is certainly nothing wrong with having dessert before dinner, but eating ice cream before yoga can bring on a bloated gastrointestinal disaster. Lactose intolerant or not, consuming dairy before participating in a hot yoga class will make your belly expand, therefore making it very uncomfortable to bend and twist. The sugar in the ice cream will also wreak havoc on your metabolism causing you to feel a bit lightheaded. Couple this with 105-degree heat, a bloated belly full of sugar-laden creamy sludge, and say goodbye to a peaceful yoga experience.

The Yoga and Vegetarian Connection
What Not to Eat Before a Workout
Avoiding the Dangers of Yoga


Edvanir L.
Vanie L4 years ago

Thank you!

Sarah M.
Sarah M5 years ago


Jennifer Walsh
Jennifer Walsh5 years ago

thank you, that was helpful

Samantha Hodder
Samantha Hodder5 years ago


Sandi C.
Sandi C5 years ago


Julie F.
Julie F5 years ago

thanks for the reminder :)

Vasu M.
.5 years ago

Like pacifists or pro-lifers, vegetarianism (nonviolence to animals and humans alike) in itself, is merely an ethic, and not a religion. Like the pro-life ethic, vegetarianism has served as the basis for entire religious traditions: Buddhism, Jainism, Pythagoreanism, Platonism and possibly early Christianity immediately come to mind.

Rynn Berry's 1993 book, Famous Vegetarians and Their Favorite Recipes: Lives & Lore from Buddha to the Beatles, lists: Pythagoras; Gautama the Buddha; Mahavira; Plato (and Socrates); Plutarch; Leonardo the Vinci; Percy Shelley; Count Leo Tolstoy; Annie Besant; Mohandas Gandhi; George Bernard Shaw; Bronson Alcott; Adventist physician Dr. John Harvey Kellogg; Henry Salt; Frances Moore Lappe; Isaac Bashevis Singer; Malcolm Muggeridge, and Brigid Brophy.

The practice of yoga emerged from the Hindu religious tradition, so discussions on Care2 of which foods are conducive to the practice of yoga, referring to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and other related Sanskrit literature are perfectly reasonable.

Is God a Vegetarian? asks mainline Baptist theologian Dr. Richard Alan Young in his 1999 book on Christianity and animal rights. According to Bhagavad-gita, the answer is YES!

Vasu M.
.5 years ago

According to Sharon Gannon (founder of the Jivamukti Yoga School and author of many books and the producer of numerous yoga-related DVDs and music CDs), the single most important part of one's yoga practice is the strict adherence to a vegetarian diet--a diet free of needless cruelty, harm, and injustice to animals.

Sharon Gannon is the recipient of the 2008 Compassionate Living Award. Vanity Fair gives her credit for making yoga cool and hip.

Vasu M.
.5 years ago

Vegetarians and vegans shouldn't have to masquerade as Moses or Mohammed (i.e., advocating adherence to a peculiar set of "dietary laws") in mainstream American society. Vegetarianism IS mainstream!

During the 1980s, Doris Day and Casey Kasem hosted the Great American MeatOut (modeled after the Great American SmokeOut), urging Americans to quit the meat habit. American Idol winner and country music star Carrie Underwood, a vegetarian since her teens, was voted the world's sexiest vegetarian for 2007. Other celebrity vegetarians include:

Dr. Dre, the B52s, Paul McCartney, Chrissie Hynde, Joaquin Phoenix, Andre3000 Meatloaf, Peter Gabriel, kd lang, Elvis Costello, and Melissa Etheridge, Brooke Shields, Christy Turlington, Cindy Jackson, and Christie Brinkley, Orlando Bloom, Liv Tyler, Brad Pitt, Richard Gere, Jude Law, Josh Hartnett, Gwyneth Paltrow, Steve Martin, Alec Baldwin, Drew Barrymore, Ryan Gosling, Kim Basinger, Kristen Bell and Dustin Hoffman.

Secular animal rights organizations include:

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA); In Defense of Animals (IDA); Friends of Animals (FoA); Last Chance for Animals; Mercy for Animals; Vegan Action; Vegan Outreach, etc.

peta2 is now the largest youth movement of any social change organization in the world, with .

peta2 has 267,000 friends on MySpace and 91,000 Facebook fans.

A few years ago, PETA was the top-ranked charity when a poll asked teenagers which nonprofit group they would most want to