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What to Eat Before and After Yoga, According to Top Nutrition Experts

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Here’s how to stop eating mindlessly—and instead learn to eat mindfully— for your best yoga practice ever.

Not sure what to eat before and after yoga class? We talked to registered dietitians and yoga experts about what to eat and when to have your best yoga practice.

I’ve often heard yoga teachers talk about yoga being all about learning to get your mind and body in balance—about finding inner peace and stability. If you follow that logic, it seems that eating mindfully and healthfully should actually be a huge component of yoga, yet it seems to me like it barely gets a nod.

Even though I do have a regular yoga practice, I often find myself grabbing takeout, eating quickly on-the-go, or chowing down at my desk while multi-tasking and sending e-mails. And while I look forward to my practice, I don’t think enough about what I’m actually putting into my body before and after my practice.

“The beautiful thing about yoga practice is it helps us to connect to our bodies,” says Kara Lydon, registered dietitian, yoga teacher, and author of Nourish Your Namaste: How Nutrition and Yoga Can Support Digestion, Immunity, Energy and Relaxation. “Practice listening to your body before and after yoga class to determine when and what to eat. Your body holds all of the wisdom to help you eat intuitively, you just haveto create the space to listen.”

To help me kick start a new plan to eat more mindfully before and after I practice, I asked Lydon—as well as other expert registered dietitians who are also yogis—when and what to eat. Here’s what we should all know about how to eat for an ideal yoga practice.

See also How to Use Ayurveda to Get Healthier Every Time You Eat

Avocado toast is a great pre-yoga snack.

What to eat before yoga class …

Before you practice, you want to aim for snacks that are easy to digest and that will help you stay loose while you practice. Of course, what works for your body is specific and personal, which is why we asked multiple experts to give you all the information you need to make a good choices. Here are their recommendations:

1. Simple carbs.
“Think simple carbohydrates with small amounts of protein, fat, or fiber for staying power and energy,” says Lydon. “Some of my favorite pre-yoga snacks are banana or apple with peanut butter, avocado toast, or hummus with carrots or crackers.”

2. Energizing snacks
“It could be fruit and nut butter, a smoothie, toast with avocado, or anything that feels energizing to you,” says Lauren Fowler, a registered dietitian Nutritionist and yoga teacher in the San Francisco Bay area.

3. Easy-to-digest foods.
Before yoga, choose foods that digest easily and give you balanced energy, such as a combination of whole grain carbohydrates, protein, and fat for staying power,” says Kat Brown, a registered dietitian and yoga instructor.

4. Eat two hours before you practice.
“I recommend having a full meal two hours before a yoga class,” says Alisha Temples, a licensed dietitian and yoga teacher in Virginia. “If eating within two hours of a class, choose a light snack.”

5. Avoid spicy, fatty, and acidic foods.
These can upset your stomach, says Temples. You’ll also want to avoid foods that digest slowly, says Brown, as they could make you uncomfortable while you practice.

6. Give yourself time to digest before you practice.
As a general rule of thumb, allow yourself one to one and a half hours to digest after a light snack and two to three hours to digest after a light meal before your yoga class, says Lydon. “But the most important thing here is to experiment and listen to your body to determine the timing that works best for you.”

See also Stoke the Digestive Fire: A Detoxifying Sequence

Try whipping up.a nutritious quinoa bowl for a post-yoga class meal.

What to eat after yoga class …

Having a balanced, satisfying meal or snack with some carbohydrates, proteins, and fats will help re-fuel your mind and body. Here, our experts make some suggestions for how to refuel after you’ve gotten your flow on:

Choose carbs plus protein. After yoga, especially if it’s a vigorous flow, you’ll want to refuel with a meal or snack that has a 3-to-1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein, which can help repair muscle tissues and restore energy levels, says Lydon. Some of her favorite post-yoga snacks include a Greek yogurt parfait with fruit, nuts, and granola; a quinoa bowl with veggies, tofu, or legumes; or a smoothie with frozen wild blueberries, banana, mint, Greek yogurt, and kefir or silken tofu. 

See also Kathryn Budig’s Easy Recipe for Coconut Almond Butter Pancakes

About the Author

Gina Tomaine is a Philadelphia-based writer and editor. She is currently Deputy Lifestyle Editor of Philadelphia magazine, and previously served as Associate Deputy Editor of Rodale’s Organic Life. She’s been published in Prevention, Women’s Health, Runner’s World and more. Learn more at ginatomaine.com. 



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Food & Diet

3 Superfood Recipes to Support Healing

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In her new superfood cookbook, Jennifer Iserloh invites readers to transform nature’s most powerful ingredients into nourishing meals and healing remedies.

These three superfood recipes are perfect for summer dinners. 

Before I started working with alchemy, a forerunner of chemistry based on the transformation of matter, I was trying to juggle mind, body, and soul practices separately. I was following different programs and driving myself a bit crazy in the process—not finding quite what I was looking for and feeling like a hamster on a wheel. Eventually, even my yoga and meditation practices felt stagnant and worn out. To an outside observer, my life was a dream: I had a loving marriage, a stable income, and a fulfilling career. Yet I felt I still hadn’t “made it,” and I constantly felt overwhelmed and frazzled.

See also 9 Genius Ways Yoga Teachers Supercharge Their Water

I knew there must be something out there that could help me break through to the next level. One day, I saw an old alchemy drawing—an obscure engraving from the 1700s called the Tabula Smaragdina (the Emerald Tablet). It’s a pictorial representation of the alchemy formula that teaches the path to deepest transformation: How to become more evolved in mind, body, and soul. In other words, how to achieve a more healthy, vibrant, enriching life.

Alchemy teaches us that to be truly transformational, healthy practices must be integrated into all aspects of our lives. When I saw the drawing that day, I realized that my love of cooking could help me overcome my mental and emotional plateau.

See also Freshen Up Your Salad Game This Summer

My goal is to teach you to cook like an alchemist: The recipes in this book incorporate superfoods, medicinal plants, and adaptogens that are known to support healing. By bringing them together in specific combinations—or having you prepare them in certain ways—these recipes are designed to amp up the healing properties of each dish.

The Superfood Alchemy Cookbook Recipes 

Excerpted from The Superfood Alchemy Cookbook by Jennifer Iserloh, to be published on April 9, 2019 by Hachette Books, a division of Hachette Book Group. Copyright 2019, Jennifer Iserloh.



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Ayurveda

YJ Tried It: I Followed an Ayurvedic, Dosha-Balancing Diet for a Week

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Yoga Journal video contributor Sky Cowans tries following an Ayurvedic nutrition plan based on her dosha (mind-body type).

Yoga Journal video contributor Sky Cowans tries following an Ayurvedic nutrition plan based on her dosha (mind-body type).

Ayurveda is the world’s oldest health system and the sister science of yoga. Ayurveda is based on the elements in nature. According to Ayurveda, there are three mind-body types called the doshas. Vatta, Pitta, and Kapha. Vatta is air, Pitta is fire and Kapha is the earth. Based on your mind-body type, Ayurveda offers various nutrition, self-care, and spiritual recommendations to bring the mind, body, and spirit back into balance and harmony.

In this video, Sky interviews Sahara Rose, an Ayurvedic expert and nutritionist. Sahara discusses Sky’s Pitta imbalance and advises her how to structure a meal plan to bring her body back to balance.

See also 7 Chakra-balancing Ayurvedic Soup Recipes



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Ayurveda

7 Ways to Stay Healthy While Traveling Through India

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Ayurvedic practitioner and holistic health coach Sahara Rose shares her best advice for avoiding an upset stomach and keeping your immune system strong when traveling.

Photo excerpted from Eat Feel Fresh: A Contemporary Plant-Based Ayurvedic Cookbook by Sahara Rose Ketabi. © 2018, First American Edition, DK Publishing. Sahara Rose Ketabi is the best-selling author of Idiot’s Guide to Ayurveda. Learn more at iamsahararose.com.

1. Carry essential oils.

My favorite for India is doTERRA DigestZen, which contains an Ayurvedic blend of anise seed, peppermint plant, ginger root, caraway seed, coriander seed, tarragon plant, and fennel seed oil. I drink this with hot water every day—even when I’m not traveling to India—to keep my digestion on point.

2. Take oil of oregano capsules.

Start with one dose a day (follow instructions on the supplement package) three days before you go to India and continue it taking every day while you’re there. “Oil of oregano is like a natural antibiotic, which can help prime your body for any exposure to bacteria or parasites,” Rose says.

See also 18+ Ways to Use Your Essential Oils

3. Take peppermint oil capsules before meals.

This will help aid digestion and also kill bacteria.

4. Take high-quality, diverse-strained, shelf-stable probiotics.

India can be hot, even when you’re traveling in winter, which is why you’ll want to make sure none of your supplements require refrigeration. “Probiotics are great because they introduce more bugs to your microbiome and have been linked with higher immunity,” Rose says. “In the US, we’re not exposed to a wide range of bacteria in our food source. In India, you will be—and that can be a major shock to your digestive system.”

See also Probiotics 101: Your Go-To for Gut Health

5. Pack protein bars.

Choose a low-glycemic, high-fat bar with medium protein to keep you satiated and nourished. You will be ecstatic when you have nothing else to eat and remember you have these bars in your bag.

6. Bring your own chocolate.

If you have a sweet tooth, carry your own low-glycemic, high-quality chocolate. “Indian sweets have a lot of sugar and dairy, which can cause an upset stomach,” Rose says.

7. Always choose cooked foods and peel-able fruits.

The reason everyone tells you not to eat raw foods in India is because of the different bacteria and parasites in the soil, Rose says. Her go-to meal: palak paneer (spinach curry with cottage cheese) with vegetables, which is a common Indian dish available at almost any restaurant. “I ask to replace the cheese with mixed vegetables, which is usually broccoli, mushrooms, and peas,” she says. “I have that with whole-wheat flatbread, called chapati, or rice and add a side of cucumber raita, which is like Indian tzatziki.”

Banana with almond butter (which Rose brings with her from the United States) is one of her favorite breakfasts when traveling in India. “Mangoes are also a must-try—during mango season there are hundreds of varieties,” she says. “Just steer clear of grapes, berries, and apples—unless you peel them.” 

See also 4 Ways to Practice Wellness On the Road



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