Today lets chat a bit about the relationship of Yoga and Food Choices. I'm thinking about this quite a bit lately because it will be the focus of food for our upcoming Island Wellness Adventure to Cumberland and again in April, when Janita and I will head up to the North Georgia woods and hang out at the Twin River Resort, on the Soque River, for the GA River Network Hidden Gem Event over Earth Day.
It’s not uncommon for a yoga practice to take us into a different state of being. The physical poses, along with things like pranayama and meditation, can bring us into awareness of our bodies and minds with a sense of clarity and presence that we want to sustain as long as possible after class ends. One way of prolonging the benefits of yoga is through good diet choices after practice. Whether you think of yoga as a holistic system of spiritual and physical growth or as a tool to relieve stress and increase flexibility and toning, what you eat after your practice can have a big impact on the benefits you’ll reap. Just as eating before yoga requires some thought and awareness, deciding what to eat after asana can be just as important. Here are a few tips and a Springtime recipe for your post-yoga cuisine.
With Spring just about here and Summer around the corner, it’s more important than ever to stay hydrated. While it can be tempting to reward yourself with a beer, wine or even iced tea after yoga, drinking water—and lots of it—is the best thing you can do for your body. If you are doing hot yoga it’s even more imperative that you replenish what you sweated off. If you want to add some pizazz to your hydration, throw some (clean, organic) berries or fruit slices into your water.
Your muscles want protein after practice. Protein promotes muscle growth and healing, and increases energy overall. You can choose your protein sources wisely using common sense or some basic guidelines from ayurvedic wisdom. Auyerveda is the "sister science" to yoga. Often when we think "protein" our brains go straight to animal products however you can also get lots of protein from non-meat sources, like quinoa or other whole grains, nuts, tofu, tempeh and edamame. This is where the practice of Sattva enters. For more about Sattva and Sattvic Foods click HERE.
Even more important than what you eat, is an awareness of how you feel after you’ve eaten it. Knowledge of the Sattvic diet can help hone this intuitive awareness while helping you maintain healthful eating habits that will sustain the benefits of the physical practice. According to ayurveda, Sattvic foods promote feelings of health, well-being purity of body and mind. Sattvic foods are thought to be most beneficial for diet and richest in prana, the energy of life itself. Practicing mindfulness around eating is a way to maintain the meditative effects of yoga, and eating more sattvic foods can contribute directly to the quality of both sitting meditation and asana practice. Sattvic foods are all vegetarian, generally do not include any animal products but instead consist of fruits, legumes, whole grains & nuts, and contain no preservatives, artificial ingredients or chemical additives of any kind.
Getting some carbohydrates in after practice is great for energy, proper metabolism and digestion. Legumes, sweet potatoes, rice and vegetables are fantastic after any workout and are easy to prepare. Choose steamed or sautéed dishes rather than fried for a healthy, lighter meal. Fruit is a fantastic option for dessert. Take advantage of what’s in season by making a colorful fruit salad that allows you to taste a little bit of everything. Something as simple as this recipe for Strawberries with Balsamic Vinegar can be a very satisfying treat!
Practicing yoga, as a moving meditation, increases body awareness and clarifies the mind, and pairing it with mindful food choices can be a path to evolution across every aspect of your life.
Next month I will share a little insight from Lauren Prince, about the meaning of and why we chant OM in our yoga practices. Lauren is a new yoga instructor and has an awesome practice along with a great sense of humor! Please check back.