Before and after a yoga practice, it is imperative to nourish our bodies in the right ways. Our practice doesn’t just exist on the mat—it impacts our bodies continuously. What we put in our bodies before and after a practice has huge effects on how efficiently we’re able to take advantage of what we do on the mat. Here are a few basic tips:
What you eat and drink before your practice has a lot to do with when you schedule your practice. Many yogis enjoy doing yoga right when they wake up, as a way to start the day mindfully. In this case, it’s best to keep it simple. Drink water to hydrate your body—but not so much that your bladder will bother you once you get going!
Avoid caffeine. Moving our bodies is a natural way to jumpstart our energy supplies and feeling jittery and anxious while trying to deeply relax our bodies is counterintuitive. If you’re the kind of person who gets hungry right when you wake up, it doesn’t hurt to eat a light snack such as a handful of nuts or a hardboiled egg.
If you typically practice later in the day, it’s important to schedule your meal for at least 60-90 minutes before you get on the mat. Our bodies expend a lot of energy digesting food, and we want to focus our energy on movement and mindfulness during practice.
After our practice, we get to treat ourselves with energy and nourishment—no need to hold back on the calories! It’s important to replenish all that fuel we used up on the mat.
First of all—hydrate! Liquids are the single most important thing to replenish after a practice—especially if it’s the kind that requires a lot of perspiration. Drink at least one big cup of water once you’re done.
It’s up to you to formulate a nutritious and nourishing after-practice meal. Protein is important, so make sure your choice includes something like meat, tofu, tempeh, or beans. Your body will thank you for it! In addition to protein, it’s a good idea to get your digestion going with plant foods such as spinach or kale. These foods help everything work smoothly in your gut, so that you don’t get too tired after eating.
Depending on your dietary needs and preferences, there’s no reason to avoid carbs after a long workout. The focus here is nourishment—we want to make sure that your body has all the vitamins and minerals it needs to feed those hard-working muscles.
Lifetime yogis know that yoga extends far beyond the time we spend on our mats. Our bodies are constantly strengthening and repairing themselves, reaping the benefits of mindful movement. Keep these tips in mind before and after your next practice, and you may notice a welcome difference in how optimized you are for the mat.