Practicing yoga can help you feel centered and more mindful while improving your flexibility, strength and digestion. First mentioned in ancient texts more than 5,000 years ago, yoga has transformed into exercise that counts more than 11 major types. No matter your preference, heading to yoga class feeling healthy and well-fueled is key to enjoying the experience.
Laju Choudhury, celebrity yoga and fitness instructor, reminds us that fuel from food is the source of life. “What you put into your body ultimately determines how you feel. For me, clean food plus yoga (and exercise) equals a happy life.” While slipping into inconsistent eating patterns happens to the best of us, Laju is quick to remind that the effects are so much more than what we can see on the outside. “Unhealthy eating can affect your mood and ability to perform… I eat what I want and never deprive myself, but I always consider balance. I suggest clean, smaller portions several times a day and say that that the more good you put in, the better you feel!”
A yoga pro, Laju knows first-hand which foods can power your yoga practice—as well as those that might make you feel terrible. Read on for her list of which foods to reach for along with those you should avoid before you practice next.
5 Foods You Should Reach for Before Yoga Class
- Banana: “I love bananas because of their high concentration of potassium,” she explains. “This is important in yoga because it helps relieve body weakness and relieves headaches. The magic of potassium is the way it helps maintain your body’s electrolyte balance.”
- Cucumber: “Cut any excess acid in your stomach, eliminate bad toxins and aid digestion with this natural coolant,” Laju suggests.
- Carrot: “A high water content makes carrots a hydrating pre-class snack. Top them with peanut butter for some extra sugar or protein.”
- Yogurt: “Reach for plain yogurt; it’s a great probiotic,” Laju wisely notes. “This is light, so you won’t feel too full in class. If you need a little bit more, top your yogurt with fruit or have a side of wheat crackers.”
- Red Apple: According to Laju, the old “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” adage is on to something. “Apples are always good for a someone’s diet! They’re high in antioxidants and help prevent heart disease. Red apples are also high in fiber content and less acidic than green apple, which make them good for digestion.”
5 Foods You Should Avoid Before Yoga Class
Want to avoid a painful or gassy yoga class? We hear you! Laju gave us the shortlist of foods yogi practitioners of all types should avoid before a solid stretch session.
- Oily food: ”Eating things like greasy burgers, tacos and pizza will add discomfort while you practice,” Laju cautions. “You might experience bloating, diarrhea, nausea and stomachaches; this is the opposite of what we hope to achieve in yoga class, which is to cleanse the body!”
- Citrus: Though fruits like oranges, lemon, and lime are healthy picks, they’re not what you should reach for before class. “Citrus causes acid which interrupts the biochemical system of the body and affects the pH level during exercise,” Laju states. “This might make you feel queasy in class.”
- Chocolate: “We don’t want caffeine before yoga, so save your chocolate, tea or coffee to enjoy another time.”
- Chilies: “Spicy food can cause you to experience cramps or heartburn, so ditch chilies and other hot food before yoga class.”
- Sushi: “Raw fish can cause complication during digestion, so eating it before class is generally not a good idea.”
Want more tips on choosing foods? Check out our Eat Well Now series, to help you eat seasonally and locally.