Let's talk about diet and nutrition. Specifically, what the diet and nutrition of a Yogi or Yoga teacher is supposed to look like. If you google "yoga diet", you will come across a variety of articles sharing ideal ways to eat as a yoga practitioner. You will read about vegetarianism, veganism, plant-based, raw, as well as "light", "organic", and "fresh". You may also stumble across Ayurvedic or Sattvic styles of eating/living, and will definitely hear about eating Mindfully. So what does this all mean? What should you - as a modern day Yogi - be eating to fuel your practice and live your best life?! Honestly - this isn't that kind of article. I am not going to tell you what you should or shouldn't eat, because truly it's none of my business and I don't know what's best for YOU. Here's the truth. I consider myself a Yogi, and obviously I am a Yoga teacher. I spend many hours of my life reading, practicing, and learning Yoga principals, theory, and physical practices. I believe in Yoga and welcome it in all aspects of my life, not just when I'm on the mat. I also drink alcohol, eat meat and love french fries.
So, here are some tips for eating as the Yogi you are - not just like a yogi on the internet - in the modern world we live in, based on the values I use in my life.
Be mindful in all aspects of your life and that will translate into eating mindfully - at least some of the time.
If you are mindful of what you put into your body based on how your body feels, you will likely make the best choices for yourself. You may also notice what foods don't mix well with your yoga practice. I stopped eating at my favorite shwarma lunch spot on days I was teaching or practicing because the way my skin smelt after injesting the delicious garlic sauce. I still eat there on non-yoga days though.
Regard food as fuel for moving your body in a way that feels good.
It's not fun to move through sun salutations when you can feel a cheeseburger moving around in your stomach with every downward dog. Maybe wait until after your practice to eat that cheeseburger? I try to finish eating at least 1 hour before I teach or take a class so that my my body has digested and turned some of the food into energy. This way I don't feel sluggish and full while moving through my practice.
Remember the importance of "non-harming" in Yoga.
The First of the 8 Limbs of Pantanjali's Yoga Sutra's - The Yama's - outline moral values to take into our practice and our lives. One of the Yamas - Ahimsa - means "non-harming" and is often the reason for people to turn to vegetarianism or veganism (so as not to harm other living beings). I personally have a different view on Ahimsa. I believe that we need to bring the idea of "non-harming" into our thoughts about ourselves and others. We can practice this by being kind to ourselves and our bodies. This may mean putting foods into your body that nourish it and don't harm it, or it may mean that when you do spend the day indulging in comfort foods, you don't spend the next day berating yourself for it. However you interpret Ahimsa, it will likely add some peace to your life.
Did the way you eat change after practicing yoga? Have you ever been told you shouldn't eat something if you are practicing? Let me know in the comments below!