Prolonging the benefits of yoga through your diet

Yoga isn’t just about coming to class for an hour and getting into beautiful looking asanas. Together with pranayama and meditation, yoga can take us to a different state of being, not just during the hour of yoga practice in the studio, but for a sustained period of time after class ends. One way to prolong the benefits of your yoga practice (be it physical asanas or just meditation) is through good food choices after practice as well as in your daily life.
Especially in Singapore, keeping hydrated is extremely important. Though it having a beer or two after practice might be tempting, water provides your body the most effective hydration. This is even more important after a hot yoga class, during which you lose a lot more water than you realize. To jazz up your water a little, add a slice of lemon into it. This not only gives your water a bit of a kick – it also provides many health benefits such as maintaining the pH levels in the body and flushing out toxins.
As for food, although many people today avoid carbohydrates in an attempt to cut on calories, carbohydrates are essential in the every day diet and after practice. Complex carbohydrates provide energy for the body, aid in digestion and ensure proper metabolism. Examples of complex carbohydrates are brown rice, sweet potatoes and grains.
Proteins are also crucial after yoga practice. Not only do proteins increase energy, they also play an important role in muscle growth and regeneration. However, choose lean proteins like chicken breast or steamed fish that will not leave you feeling tired and lethargic (tamasic) after that.
Awareness of how you feel after you have eaten is even more important than what you actually eat. Knowledge of the ayurvedic diet can aid you in this awareness and can help you maintain healthy eating habits in line with the yoga philosophy. Sattvic foods are believed to be the most beneficial for the body – these are foods which increase vitality, energy, vigour, health and joy. Sattvic foods are light and easily digested, fresh, and are usually organic.
This is contrasted with rajasic foods and tamasic foods. The yoga diet avoids rajasic foods as they are believed to over-stimulate the body and mind. These foods are excessively hot, pungent, bitter, sour or saline, such as onions, garlic, coffee and tea. Meanwhile, tamasic foods cause dullness and laziness, robbing individuals of high ideals, purpose and motivation. This would come in the form of meat, fish and all intoxicants.
According to ayurvedic practitioner Gary Gran, “The true test of foods comes when we meditate. All meditators know there are two main problems. One is falling asleep – the tamasic effect. The other is an over-active mind – the rajasic effect. If we want to be able to quiet the mind and maintain our alertness… we need to follow the sattvic diet,”.
TYX (200hour Hatha/Ashtanga Weekdays)

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