On a general note, practitioners are encouraged not to eat one to two hours prior to performing yoga and breathing (Pranayama) exercises. The same applies to an hour or two after practice.
According to many scriptures, food in the digestive system can disrupt one's overall practice since the digestive process requires energy.
Yoga postures such as twists and bend, compresses the torso food portions in the digestive system and push them outwards against the lining of the tract.
This can lead to damage of the digestive tissues or aggravate conditions linked to disgestive disorders.
So, remember to begin your yoga practice in an empty stomach to allow you to tap more quickly into energy stores (muscles, liver, and body fat).
Here are the types of food you should avoid prior to asana practices:
- Processed food, which are high in sugar, salt, flavour and colourings
- Spicy and pungent food, such as garlic and onion, as they are hard to digest and cause gas and cramps
- Fried food as they leave you feeling sluggish and fatigued
- Dairy products, including cheese, because they are hard to digest and cause cramps or stomach upset
- Coffee and energy drinks as the overly stimulating for the body
- Meat, which is heavy in the body, high in salt and take up to 6 hours to digest
- Certain fruits that are high in sugar and fat, such as avocado. The same goes to smoothies and fruit juices too!
For vegetarians, legumes, green leafy vegetables and dairy products are good sources of protein.
Some yoga practitioners practice fasting once a week. On those days, they choose to fully fast (no food, no water) or take pure fruit juices or only water intake as part of the diet. This is believed to purify the mind and body, besides letting the digestive system 'rest', and energise one's metabolism to burn through calories more efficiently.
However, before making any long-term decisions on your diet, consult a doctor or a nutritionist.
Nizha Periaswamy is a yoga instructor and freelance writer.
Photo source: Pixabay, Sakthi school of yoga