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.
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.
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.