One of the most common questions that we get by those who want to start their Yoga classes is what we can eat before the session; and what is the time gap between a meal and a Yoga session. Below I discuss the three most popular time slots when people practice Yoga and food choices to be made for the pre-yoga meal.
If your class is between 6 am – 9 am or within 2 hours of your waking up
Let us take the most popular time slot when people take Yoga lessons – early morning. You could be doing a class anytime between 6 am to 9 am and/or within 2 hours of your waking up. If this is when you also practice, then try not to be on an empty stomach for your class.
If you go completely empty stomach you may nauseate, your sugar levels can drop, or you may not feel energetic enough for the session. Please have 6 – 10 almonds and complement it with a small banana. These will give you enough energy for the class, will provide you with some much-needed protein, essential oils and loads of mineral to keep you going for next couple of hours. More over both these items are alkaline in nature; thus, negating acidity and bloating early in the morning.
Things to avoid will be milk tea, biscuits even if they are the healthy ones. An herb tea is ideal, and a green tea or black tea is acceptable.
If your class is between 9 am – 1 pm or within 3 - 7 hours of your waking up
If you are someone who must do morning chores, prepare breakfast, send kids school, etc. and then you have some time for yourself great. This routine has its advantages, since all the morning activity would have taken away last night’s stiffness from the body; also, the mind is ready to focus.
Along with your morning tea, and almond routine you must have some light breakfast. Preferably a big glass of smoothie, with a fruit bowl. One must take care of eating things that are easily digestible and based on your constitution.
Naturally, the question comes how much to eat - you will have to adjust based on your metabolism and choice of food. If the quantity is more than what it should be you will burp, or the food may come up as you twist & turn in various yoga postures. Don’t get disheartened, merely reduce the quantity the next day and with the right intent and some trial and error you will be able to get the right portion size for your breakfast before your class.
If your class is between 4 pm – 8 pm
For evening lessons, it is essential that you be mindful of how you have digested the food consumed thus far in the day. If your class is early in the evening, then try to keep 2-3 hours gap between your lunch and the Yoga class.
If it is late evening avoid fried or spicy snacking on days, you are planning to the yoga class. The focus must be on easily digestible food and being aware of ease/unease during the yoga session. There cannot be fixed guideline; however, one must not feel heavy, bloated and the food must not come up while doing the class. Choose your food consciously.
Ayurvedic perspective on food before Yoga
The most important purpose of food is to provide us with energy for carrying out our life. Of the five great elements of Prithvi, Agni, Jal, Vayu and Akash; Agni is what helps us transform the food to energy. This energy helps also in the interplay of these five elements, which in turn makes sure that we balance our doshas.
Too much food or heavy food or bloating makes the release of this energy a slow and a difficult process, making us makes us lazy, sleepy or mentally dull.
While food that is easily digestible releases energy quickly that can be used in our daily life; for vigour, intent and clarity of mind.
Yoga tries to take our consciousness inwards and away from the sensory perceptions so that one can naturally be more mindful and peruse spiritual objectives.
Yoga with a heavy stomach is not only difficult for the physical reasons of feeling full and difficult breathing but also because if the process of digestion is on; then all the agni in the body is focused on it. This binds the consciousness to the body; exactly opposite of what Yoga is trying to achieve. Thus, Yoga with a lot of food inside makes it counter-productive.
On the other hand Yoga with no or very little energy makes you exhausted, and you cannot perform in the class.
Hence choice and quantity of food before the session needs to be experimented with and continuously monitored so that it aids your Yoga practice.