The Best and Worst Foods for a Yoga Lifestyle

You can improve your yoga practices by following these eating dos and don’ts
yoga

Photo Modified: Flickr / Dave Rosenblum / CC BY 4.0

The Best and Worst Foods for a Yoga Lifestyle

yoga

Photo Modified: Flickr / Dave Rosenblum / CC BY 4.0

In an ongoing effort to better oneself in one or many of the various styles of yoga, it’s important to focus on which foods best promote lightness, strength, and flexibility. We’ve gone to three different yoga instructors to see which foods and drinks they look to and stay away from in order to get the most out of their practice.

Do: Fish

sardines

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Protein-packed fish not only promotes digestive lightness but also the building blocks necessary for fueling and replenishing fatigued muscles. Salmon, sardines, and tuna will provide both physical and mental benefits key to anyone’s practice.

Do: Quinoa

quinoa

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“One of the best foods for yoga is quinoa. It is a whole grain that packs a powerful nutrition punch and has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. It is also high in protein… and gluten-free,” says Polley. “It’s good as a source of energy before yoga (at least two hours before) or to help rebuild muscles after yoga.”

Do: Smoothies

“Between practicing and teaching yoga, I often spend hours at a time at the studio and don’t have a moment to stop for a dedicated meal, so snacks and on-the-go foods have become my saving grace,” says Daoust. “I’ll usually blend a smoothie the night before so it’s ready to grab from my fridge.” She suggests tossing spinach, spirulina, banana, chia, and bee pollen into a smoothie to promote lightness and energy. 

Do: Sweet Potatoes

sweet potatoes

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If you’re looking for lasting energy a few hours before class, you can’t go wrong whipping up a sweet potato. Rich in complex carbohydrates, sweet potatoes will provide your body with enough energy to get through the most arduous of classes as well as a good dose of dietary fiber.

Do: Yogurt

yogurt

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Daoust’s focus on lightness includes organic yogurt. High in protein and naturally probiotic, yogurt provides essential nutrients without a feeling of heaviness.

Don’t: Alcohol

In addition to impairing your senses, alcohol can inspire inflammation. Dr. Francis suggests steering clear of alcohol in order to maintain a healthy yoga lifestyle.

Don’t: Beans, Broccoli, and Brussels Sprouts

brussels sprouts

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Polley warns against eating foods that often promote bloating before heading to a yoga class. “[Y]ou want to stay away from broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, [and] beans… Anything that causes bloating or gas [is] no fun for you or the instructor in yoga!”

Don’t: Coffee

coffee

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While coffee does provide a boost of caffeine-inspired energy, it may not be the best source of energy for yoga. Dr. Francis warns against the potential inflammatory properties of coffee.

Don’t: Milk

milk

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Dr. Francis warns against drinking cow’s milk before yoga. In addition to being a common allergen that causes bloating and gas, milk is also believed to inspire inflammation.

Don’t: Nut Butters

peanut butter

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In an effort to remain light on her mat, Daoust tries “to avoid dense foods [like] nut butters… as they can cause some indigestion, especially during twisting and back-bending classes.”

Don't: Sugar

sugar

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Dr. Francis warns against processed sugar. It can inspire inflammation that is detrimental to a good yoga session as well as having other negative implications for one’s health. Natural sources of sugar such as honey and fruit should be prioritized over their processed relatives.