If you’ve been following our blog, you will have noticed our series about eating plans to help with your specific style of workout program. Today we’ll be talking about eating to improve your yoga practice. While many workout programs require specific types of eating plans to help sustain energy, eating with your yoga practice in mind focuses more on your overall well-being.

Yoga isn’t just a physical practice. There is also a culture and belief system that you may or may not choose to adopt with your yoga practice. This belief system, based on scientific evidence of the connection between the mind and body, is called Ayurveda. Ayurveda is a more holistic approach to physical and mental health and is also one of the oldest medical systems in the world.

Whether you’ve been practicing yoga for a long time or you’ve just started taking yoga classes, learning about the lifestyle and eating habits behind yoga can help you improve your practice. If you’re interested in taking yoga classes, become a member at Duality Fit in Sloan Lake and take an unlimited number of DualityFlow classes every month.

Doshas

An Ayurvedic diet is broken up into three ways of eating depending on your body type, also called dosha. The doshas reflect three different elements of nature: vata (air), pitta (fire), and kapha (earth and water). People aren’t necessarily one specific dosha, either; individuals can be a different mixture of all three doshas.

We’ll talk more about doshas in the future, including food that is compatible with each. For now, understanding the basic principles of an Ayurvedic diet is most important.

Be Gentle on Your Body

While your food should include vital macronutrients like carbohydrates, protein, and fat to give your body the energy and nutrients it needs to function, being selective about the food you eat out of respect for yogic teachings is also important. One of the main focuses of Ayurvedic eating is to detoxify. This means limiting alcohol, preservatives, and other harmful chemicals.

As a basic rule of thumb, fresh is best. Choose food that is lighter on your stomach and easy to digest. If you’re sticking to fresh foods, most of what you’re eating should be raw or only lightly cooked. It’s also important to cook with oils and fats that are stable, meaning that they stay healthy after being cooked. Fats like these include coconut oil and ghee (clarified butter).

Another important aspect of eating with yoga in mind is how much to eat. Stay in tune with your body while you’re eating. Stop eating when you’re satisfied — not when you’re stuffed. Also, pay attention to how you feel after eating. If you feel unwell, it may be a sign that your body has a sensitivity to something you ate.

Vegetarianism

While eating fresh fruits and vegetables is important to the yogic mindset of eating, that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to become a vegetarian or vegan. Some yogis follow ahimsa, or non-harming, which means that they don’t eat animals. If this is your belief, that is great — but be mindful of how these restrictions affect your mind and body. If you discover that cutting out meat from your diet leaves you feeling fatigued and scatter-brained, then your body is missing key nutrients from those food sources and you should reincorporate it or find other ways to supplement those foods.

If you do decide that veganism or vegetarianism is a lifestyle you want to adopt, you’ll be cutting a main source of protein from your diet and will need to find other foods to eat instead. For vegans, eating tofu, tempeh, and seitan will give you the protein your body needs to sustain energy. Vegetarians eat these foods as well, along with eggs and dairy products.

If you continue to eat meat, eating lean meat will decrease the amount of fat you’re consuming. From a yogic standpoint, choosing meat and poultry from humane environments is recommended.

Find Your Flow

Yoga doesn’t have to be a way of life. If you’re satisfied with your weekly yoga class, then eating healthy food is all that’s important to sustain your practice. If you’re curious about diving into the lifestyle of yoga though, stay posted for more information about Ayurveda, doshas, and what to eat depending on your dosha.

If you’re looking for a place to practice, Duality Fit in Sloan Lake offers two different types of yoga classes to further your practice. Become a member and attend an unlimited number of DualityFlow classes every month.