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What to eat and drink… and be healthy

There’s no hard or fast rule for what a dedicated yogi should eat, but follow these recommendations to feel your best whether you’re twisting, binding or arm-balancing. A healthy diet is key to having both the energy and the focus to support regular yoga practice, whether that’s an intense 90 minutes of power vinyasa or a quick Hatha session.

There’s no hard or fast rule when it comes to the types of foods a dedicated yogi should have, but whatever you consume should provide both energy and clarity, supporting your system as you send your body through all those twists, binds and inversions. And it’s not just what you eat - but how and when, too. Here are five ways in which you can best stay healthy and support your yoga practice through food and drink.

Keep hydrated

Water is one of the most important ingredients for any yogi when it comes to diet. Most teachers will tell you not to hydrate during yoga as it can interfere with the body’s warming process. However, before and after practice, it’s vital.

Matt Feczko, a London-based yoga teacher and founder of Lunges in Leggings, says: “Our body is made of 70 percent water, and the fascia, the connective tissue in our body, is also made up of mostly water.”

He adds: “To take care of our fascia we need to stay hydrated. Without enough water in your fascia, you’ll feel tight and less nimble.”

Eat the rainbow

It’s important that a yogi’s diet is balanced and full of nutritious foods that are high in fibre, vitamins, healthy fats, and natural sugars. This will keep you satisfied, light, and grounded. The easiest way to get everything you need is by “eating the rainbow”. The more colour on your plate, the better. Grab them beets, blueberries, kale, and sweet potatoes to ensure you consume as many nutrients as possible.

Avoid eating before practice

We’ve all been there. Eat too soon before a yoga class and you’ll spend most of your practice trying not to see your breakfast again. But it’s not only to stop you feeling ill that you shouldn’t eat at least two hours before getting into downward dog.

“We breathe in yoga to cultivate energy that’s why you don’t need to eat before class as energy comes from class. Food will counterbalance this,” explains Matt.

“Avoid eating food before practice because the postures and shapes can be limited by the physical stuff inside the stomach.”

Be more conscious

Much of the yogic prescription for food comes from the yamas and niyamas (the "do's and don'ts") as articulated in Yoga Sutra, the guidebook of classical yoga. The first yama, and the foundation of all yoga practice, is ahimsa, which refers to not eating food that harms you or others, hence why many yogis choose to be vegetarians.

Now, no-one's saying you should cut out meat altogether to improve your yoga practice, but being more conscious and lowering your intake will benefit the environment as well as help you lower blood pressure and reduce inflammation in the body.

It’s about balance

Whichever foods you consume around your yoga practice, the important thing to remember is that everyone is different. What works for some might not for others. But if you follow the above as a rough guide, then it’s bound to keep you eating well, full of energy, and feeling healthy.

The major rule of thumb here is to keep it balanced. You’ll simply feel better by reducing indulgence and eating moderately, especially if you practice often. On the other hand, there’s definitely nothing wrong with a cheeky pint after a strong class, especially during these cold winter months. And don’t feel guilty if you do. Respect your decision and never regret; life is a balancing act!

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