One of the biggest things we are posed as questions from our students is: “What should I eat?”.
It is very normal when undertaking a big life change, like starting yoga, to feel daunted by the signs and symptoms you sometimes experience along with confusion around what to or what not to eat.
Fuelling your yoga practice is more important than you might think.1,2 Challenges in the yoga room, (especially hot yoga) from dizziness to pain and stiffness can boil down (excuse the pun) to poor eating habits.
You don’t need to do a huge overhaul. Simple small things can make a dramatic difference in the room and to your life!
We already know (or maybe you don’t) that Bikram Yoga, helps to improve insulin sensitivity, glycemic control, improve our lipid profiles, reduce blood pressure, improve bone density and mineral density, improve body composition, increase lean muscle and strength, improve mood and cognitive function, improve mobility, improve flexibility, reduce stress and even reduce risks of injury from falling in the elderly populations.3,4,5,6
Dietary fuel for your yoga practice is more important than you might think,5,6 especially when undertaking the dynamic, transformational, therapeutic style that Bikram Yoga is.
Your diet and hydration levels will greatly impact not only your health, but will also dramatically influence how you respond physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually in yoga class.1,2,7,8,9.10
Challenges in the yoga room, especially hot yoga from dizziness to pain and stiffness can boil down (excuse the pun) to poor eating habits. For example if you eat a lot of sugar you will feel dizzy in class, if you eat a lot red meat, heated, spicy foods, you will struggle in the room, feel heavy, hot and angry. 5 Studies also show adequate amounts of ingested fluid prior to exercise exhibited lower temperatures and heart rates during exercise.10,11
So What should you eat?
There is no once size fits all solution to maintaining and improving your health through diet, and we do all thrive on varying proportions of macro and micro nutrients. 12,13 In saying that are many principles which do apply.
Start Small, Start Simple and Start Smart!
The predominance of our diet should come from plant-based, un-refined and un-processed foods.
Some good tips to start include a daily diet of:
|Plant- Based 80% of meal||80% plant-based foods – A variety of coloured, fruits, vegetables, sea-weeds, sprouts, Raw nuts, seeds (including linseed, chia, hemp), good oils (cold-pressed olive, macadamia, coconut, walnut, avocado etc) and some legumes and some whole grains like quinoa and brown rice. A small amount of himalayan sea salt (never table salt which causes high blood pressure due to its chemical processing) is also a good addition.|
|Non-Plant Based 20% of meal||20% made up of non plant sources – Honey, fish and white meat over red meat, eggs, bone broths|
|Vegetarian & Vegan Inclusions||If you are vegan or vegetarian, fantastic, but you will need to be strict in eating a variety of foods including seaweeds, blue-green algae, complete proteins( goji berries, chia seeds, hemp seeds, quinoa) and possibly take B12 supplements to ensure your nutrient needs are met.|
|Water||0.033 of a litre of water per day for every kilogram of bodyweight is needed to maintain homeostasis and health maintenance. Each individual will be different & seasonal adjustments will be required. A good place to start is 2-3 litres of water daily. Try adding a pinch of sea salt and 1/2 a fresh lemon and lime to your water for additional electrolyte support and flavour.|
Magnesium, potassium, sodium & calcium
Sources: Raw nuts, seeds, green leafy vegetables, seaweed, blue-green algae – E3 live is the richest mineral source and only organic purity heavy metal tested product available in Australia and has scientific studies to support its claims
Supplement source will be essential if you practice 3 or more times per week. We carry a practitioner only product at the studio, that is of the highest quality and efficacy.
|Tastes that Cool the Body||
Again as we are different constitutions proportions will vary from person to person of what we can and cant tolerate. Additionally seasons will also play a role. In General though bitter & sweet tastes cool and sweet taste moistens the body.
Bitter: Bitter greens – endive, rocket, fenugreek (also good for blood sugar stabilisation, cacao, swedish bitters,
Sweet: Coconut, white grapes, peppermint tea, mint leaves, dill, fennel, sweet pineapples, melons, almond milk (neutral), dates, Whole grains (moderation), rose petal tea, sweet potatoes
Other cooling components: Chicken over red meats and fish
|Exclusions/ Reductions||Sugar, refined carbohydrates, anything in a packet or can, trans fats – margarine, hydrogenated oils – cheap basic oils in the supermarket shelf!, inflammatory foods (wheat, dairy, gluten, sugar), alcohol, coffee|
“Change is never painful, only the resistance to change is painful”–
Rowena Jayne N.D.
(BHsc (Nat), Adv Dip Nut Med, Adv Dip HM, Dip Med, Dip RM, Dip PA, Cert Yoga, Cert NET, Cert EFT.
Author, Naturopath, Bikram Yoga Instructor, Nutritionist, Ayurvedic and Western Herbalist,
Neuro Emotional Technique (NET) & EFT Practitioner, Plant-Based Chef.
1. Dunford M,PhD, Sports Nutrition: A Practice Manual for Professionals, American Dietetic Association 4th ed.2006, USA
2. Phillips et al, Body Fluid Changes, Thirst and Drinking In Man During Free Access to Water, Physiol Behaviours, 1984;33:357-363.
3. Warburton D, Nicol C, Bredin S. Health benefits of physical activity: the evidence. CMAJ : Canad Med Assoc J. [internet] 2006;174(6):801-809. doi:10.1503/cmaj.051351.
4. Charleston F, Heckling M, Garner D. Effects of Bikram Yoga on Body Composition, Blood Pressure, and Sleep Patterns in Adult Practitioners. J Bas App Sci. [internet]; 2016;12:75-80. Available from: http://www.lifescienceglobal.com/pms/index.php/jbas/article/viewFile/3596/2119
5. Hewett Z, Cheema B, Pumpa K, Smith C. The Effects of Bikram Yoga on Health: Critical Review and Clinical Trial Recommendations. Ev-base Comp Alt Med J : eCAM. [internet] 2015;2015:428427. doi:10.1155/2015/428427
6. Guo Y, Wang F, Hu J, Wang Y, Zhang L. Effect of high temperature yoga exercise on improving physical and mental well-being of overweight middle-aged and young women. Int J Clin Exper Med. [internet] 2014;7(12):5842-5846.Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4307564/
7. Latika W, et al, Hyper-hydration: tolerance and cardiovascular effects during uncompensable exercise-heat stress, J Appl Physipol. 1998;84:1858-1864
8. Montana S, et al, Hyponatremia associated with exercise: risk factors and pathogenesis. Exert Sports Sci Rev. 2001;3:113-117
9. Vaughan R, et al, Dehydration and Fluid Replacement in Sport and Exercise. Sports Exerc Inj, 1995:1:148-153
10. Champagne C, Bray G. Dietary Management of the metabolic syndrome -one size fits all? Proc Nutr Soc. [internet’ 2013 Aug;72(3):310-6. doi: 10.1017/S0029665113001316.
11. Tautz D. One size does not fit all. eLife. 2014;3:e02088. doi:10.7554/eLife.02088