Feeling a little sluggish during your Sun Salutations and want to go straight to Savasana? Just as you need to fuel up for a big run, eating the right foods at the right times before heading to the yoga studio is important too. Eat too much or too close to class and digestive upset will have you feeling logy or bloated. Likewise, if you don't eat enough, you won't have the stamina to make it through the entire 90-minute class. Check out the tips below so you know what to nosh on before you say Namaste.
All Day Long
Regardless of the type of yoga you're doing, heading into class fully hydrated is essential. If it's a calm, restorative class, sip normal amounts of water (eight ounces every hour) throughout the day leading up to class, but if you know you'll be sweating buckets in Ashtanga or Bikram, drink a little more, 10 to 12 ounces every hour.
Two Hours Before
The recommendation is to eat at least two hours before practicing, and as you'll be twisting and contorting your body (in close quarters, with people deep breathing . . .). Opt for a small 300- to 400-calorie meal that's easy to digest, choosing foods you're familiar with. It should be a combo of carbs for energy, protein to satiate your hunger and build muscle, and healthy fats that support the heart. And be sure to go low in fiber and low in saturated fat to avoid digestive upset. Go for Greek yogurt with fruit and nuts, marinated tofu with quinoa, a protein smoothie, nut butter and sliced strawberries on whole-wheat toast, or homemade chicken salad on an English muffin. Sip it down with 15 to 20 ounces of water.
30 Minutes Before
You should definitely eat something a half hour before stepping on your mat. If you grab lunch and forget to eat an afternoon snack and class is at 5:30, there's no way you'll have the energy to try that new Crow variation, and hunger pangs will no doubt cause unyogi-like crankiness, as well as dizziness and a pounding headache that not even a headstand can cure. Grab something small (100 calories or less) that's mostly carbs, like a banana, a few dried apricots, half a fruit and nut bar, or a few crackers. Sip six ounces of water with it.
15 Minutes Before
If you're rolling out of bed for an early 6 a.m. class, it's not the best idea to practice on an empty stomach, but now is not the time to scarf down your usual breakfast either. Reach for something you can enjoy in a few bites that offers quick energy. Half a banana, a few spoonfuls of applesauce, or a couple sips of a fruit smoothie are all good options. And be sure to sip a glass of water with your snack as well.