To eat or not to eat? That is the question. And its a question thats asked by many yogis.

You know yoga fires up the digestive system, so is eating prior to practice a good idea?

The answer is yes but with a few caveats.

  1. Be smart about what you eat. Below is a list of suggested foods that will give you energy to sustain you through a 90-minute practice, help calm your mind, and wont have your digestive system revolting against your decision.
  2. Try to give yourself about an hour between eating and practicing. If youre going to be twisting, turning upside down and building internal heat, you dont really want to do so with food moving through your digestive tract.
  3. Before an intense pranayama practice, avoid eating for two to three hours. Too much food in your stomach can impact your diaphragm and make it harder to take deep, full breaths.
  4. Avoid foods that are acidic, i.e. coffee or orange juice, foods that are spicy and foods that are oily, i.e. fried food, heavy dressings, etc.
  5. Too much liquid is probably a bad idea too!

Whether you have time to plan out your schedule including when your meals or the clock is ticking and your stomach is starting to rumble and your blood sugar is dropping, here are a few suggestions to set you up for success.

  1. Almonds. Nature has provided such a fabulous food high in potassium (an electrolyte to keep you hydrated), magnesium (improves the flow of blood and oxygen), vitamin E (lowers cholesterol), fiber (to keep you full) and protein all which will give you energy to keep you going. Just proceed with caution. Too much fiber can weigh you down.
  2. Raisins/Dates/Dried fruit. Natural sugars will give you the endurance you need to make it through your practice. Combine these with nuts to slow their absorption and avoid blood sugar spikes. There are plenty of bars on the market now that are basically dates and nuts and few other ingredients. These are filling and energy-boosting.
  3. Bananas. So perfectly packaged, bananas are one of the best sources of potassium, which, in addition to being heart healthy, improves muscle function and balances fluids two factors to help you get through your practice feeling good. Theyre also high in fiber which will keep you full. And theyre easy on the digestive system making them an ideal pre-yoga snack.
  4. Smoothie (but make it a small one). A little bit of protein, a little bit of natural sugar from fruit, and a little bit of fiber will go a long way in keeping you physically and mentally ready for your practice. Just be careful that you dont consume too much of this liquid happiness before your practice or your stomach will be none too thrilled with you!
  5. Oatmeal or Millet. A complex carb like oatmeal or millet will give the energy boost without spiking your blood sugar and the fiber you need to keep the rumbling at bay. Add a handful of nuts, omega-3, or raisins for a little extra benefit.

Like everything else in yoga, listen to your body. You know what you can eat that will make you feel light and what makes you feel uncomfortable.

When in doubt and short on both time and energy keep it light and small to avoid learning a lesson the hard way.

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