While the general recommendation is to practice yoga on an empty stomach, fasting before you practice also isn’t advisable. In fact, making sure you are adequately nourished and hydrated can mean the difference between a strong and lousy downward-facing dog.
Namely, yogis opt for fluids and snacks that are easily digestible, nutrient dense and packed with carbohydrates up to a half-hour before class. Don’t eat a big meal within three hours of beginning your practice.
And, before any exercise, opt for foods that have low fat and fiber content, as those elements can contribute to bloating and gas.
Most important, listen to your own body to see which foods work best for your GI system.
Here are a handful of yoga-friendly snacks to consider before you practice:
1. A low-fat cereal, such as Cascadian Farms Fruitful O's with unsweetened almond, soy, or low-fat dairy milk (if you tolerate the latter well)
2. A bar with a moderate amount of fiber and carbohydrates, such as the kid version Clif Z bar, which is small, portable and delicious
3. A banana, which is low in fiber, and high in the electrolytes potassium and magnesium, which are essential for fluid balance as well as preventing cramps and bloating, especially in those hot yoga classes
4. 4 ounces of juice to provide quick fuel in the form of a simple carbohydrate pre practice (this isn’t advisable if you have GERD)
5. A palm full of almonds, which are rich in potassium, magnesium, and vitamin E to help you maintain your energy through sun salutations and other movements
6. One cup of white or whole-wheat pasta with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese, which is best to consume one hour before you sit down on your mat
As you experiment with these snacks, observe how they affect your energy and strength on the mat to find your perfect match. When you settle into a blissful savasana, all of your hard work will have been worth it.
Laura Cipullo is a Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator, Certified Eating Disorder Registered Dietitian and four-time author, with offices in NYC and NJ. She is the author of “Everyday Diabetes, Meals for 1 or 2.”