Fuel Your Body to Fuel Your Practice

The food you eat matters when you get to the mat—your body is only as good as what you put into it.

What you eat is an important ingredient for a yummy yoga practice. Here are a few food tips to help fuel your yoga.

Start Your Day Right for Yoga

Your morning meal not only ​positively ​impacts your alertness and ​vivacity throughout the entire day but can also dictate the quality of your yoga practice, no matter what time you get on your mat. According to Sharon Feanny, a leading yoga teacher in Jamaica who offers high vitality eating and detox programs, “High vitality foods give you energy rather than sapping it, so a superfood breakfast sets the tone for an energized day.” Sharon's latest breakfast obsession—Vanilla Cocoa Coconut Chia Seed Breakfast Pudding—​is jam-packed with superfoods for mental and physical stamina. Here's her recipe:
  • Fill a 16oz mason jar with 1/2 cup chia seeds.
  • Add 1 cup of almond milk, 1 tbsp honey or maple syrup and 1/4 tsp cinnamon and 1 tsp pure vanilla. Stir everything together and store covered in your fridge overnight or for at least 2 hours so chia seeds can soak.
  • Stir well before serving and add a little water or coconut water if too thick.
  • Top with 2 tbs raw cacao nibs, 2 tbs shredded coconut and fruit and nuts of choice
  • Stir everything together and enjoy!
  • The pudding can last 4–5 days in the fridge and is great for breakfast or for a sweet dessert treat.
Once your morning superfoods are in, Sharon suggests sticking to organic, unprocessed, fresh foods for the rest of day, ideally making lunch the heaviest meal​.

Snacking Before & After Yoga Practice

Snacks can be our heroes, saving us from lethargic, unfocused yoga practices. Sometimes a healthy pre-yoga snack ​is just what we need for a​ strong practice, while a post-yoga snack ​may hit the spot to assist our bodies and minds in fully digesting the benefits of our practice. New York-based Nutrition Expert Arielle Haspel of BeWellwithArielle.com, who stars in healthy cooking shows on Glamour.com and Healthination.com, and creates healthy recipes and hosts cooking classes and corporate wellness events, recommends quality high-carb-low-protein snacks before class and protein-rich-low-carb snacks after class. Unprocessed carbs before practice release slowly into the blood stream, helping create sustained energy and mental focus ​while​ staving off hunger pangs. ​Though ​carbs also help repair muscles after yoga, high-quality proteins are optimal for building and repairing muscle fibers and easing soreness. If you're practicing first thing in the morning, something light, like a cup of tea, piece of fruit or green juice, consumed 20 minutes or so before, will amp up your insides just enough to fuel your practice, which can followed by a heavier breakfast. ​If your yoga practice is ​in ​the afternoon or evening, Arielle suggests having snacks at least 45 minutes prior, giving your body adequate time to assimilate before you begin moving and bending. Arielle's high-carb-low-protein pre-yoga snack suggestions include:
  • ​A brown rice cake with almond butter and drizzle of honey;
  • ​An apple with a few cashews; oatmeal with almond milk, cinnamon and chia seeds;
  • ​A smoothie made with almond milk, coconut water, berries, spirulina; and a bar made with dates and nuts.
Arielle also recommends waiting 30–45 minutes after practice to snack or have a light meal, giving your digestive system time to settle down. Some of her high-protein-low-carb post-yoga suggestions include:
  • ​A brown rice cake with 2 pasture-raised eggs, coconut oil and sprinkle of sea salt; trail mix made with pumpkin seeds, almonds and walnuts;
  • ​A​ smoothie made with almond milk, coconut water, almond butter, dates, raw cacao powder, hemp seeds or hemp protein;
  • A bar made with seeds and nuts or brown rice protein, hemp protein or pea protein.

Bonus: Eating For Festivals

It’s festival season—and while your mind may be blown, your body can suffer during those long, hot days in the sun. Cassandra Bodzak, a New York-based certified holistic health coach who specializes in nutrition, meditation and lifestyle media and consulting, is a regular Wanderlust festival​-goer and can attest to the unique nutrition needs required ​for an optimum ​festival experience. “Wanderlust is an energetic vortex, perfect for breakthroughs. When you fuel yourself properly you’re primed for a spiritual experience”, Cassandra notes. She explains that the Wanderlust schedule of back-to-back yoga and other physical activity coupled with engaging, soul-stirring ​festival vibes​ calls for ​close ​attention to ​eating well and ​self-care ​in order ​to maintain balance. To ensure she's her best self at Wanderlust, Cassandra says she starts each festival day with a solid breakfast for sustainable energy. Breakfast may be, for instance, homemade granola with fresh berries and almond milk, or avocado toast with scrambled eggs. While out and about during ​the festival, she says she​ constantly​ drinks water ​to keep hydrated, and also has lots of nutrient-rich cold-pressed juices to keep satisfied without being weighed down. Cassandra carries around nuts, fruits and bars to nibble on whenever her body calls for it. She chomps on a hearty salad for lunch and indulges in a big dinner, which includes healthy carbs, protein and fats, to fully replenish at the end of long​, sometimes physically taxing,​ festival days.
Photo by Melissa RyanKinisha-Correia Kinisha Correia is a freelance writer and blogger. She is a contributing writer to a number of publications, and is a regular columnist for the Miami Herald, highlighting local initiatives focused on building social welfare in any capacity. Her blog, Prana Writes, showcases change-making people and projects around the globe doing uplifting work in the areas of yoga, wellness, eco-living, the arts, conscious travel, and ethical fashion. Kinisha credits yoga for altering the course of her life, and dedicates much of work to sharing yoga’s positivity.