A yogi on the mat is clear and focused -- just as a yoga diet plan should be. Your yoga diet plan will be as individual as you are, but should consist of foods that enhance the yoga practice and follow yoga ethics and principles. These include self-discipline, getting back to basics, and removing harmful patterns and behaviors -- as well as foods. A new yoga diet should be incorporated gradually, slowly replacing any unwanted foodstuff with healthier options.
Foods to Choose
Sattvic foods, or those that offer goodness and purity, are high priority for a yoga diet. "Yoga Journal," "Yoga Chicago" and Sivananda, a website of the international centers that teaches both yoga and the Indian philosophy of Vedanta, note this fact. Many yoga diets are pure vegetarian, but, even if fish and meats are included because of specific health reasons, vegetables are a main staple. Other sattvic foods include fruits, whole grains, seeds, nuts and legumes such as beans and lentils. Food that grows in the sun, and is thus highest on the food chain, has the most life-giving properties, Sivananda stresses, whereas animals are “second-hand” nutrition and lower on the chain.
Foods to Avoid
In addition to the “second-hand” nutrition of meat, yoga diets avoid other tamasic foods; "Yoga Journal" notes these foods to avoid. Tamasic foods, stemming from the word "tamas," which means darkness, include onions, garlic and other foodstuff considered unclean. Rajasic foods, coming from the word "rajas," or passion, are also off the list. These include hot or spicy peppers, coffee, caffeinated tea and salt. Foods that are highly processed, refined or overcooked are also on the taboo list, as are alcohol, drugs and other items that cloud the mind.
Points to Consider
How you prepare and consume your meals is equally as important as what you eat. Prepare and eat your meals with love and awareness, the same way you practice yoga on the mat. Those who practice yoga with yoga philosophies in mind are aware of this way of thinking. Eating or preparing food while you’re upset, irate or distracted can lead to negative side effects, including an upset stomach, "Yoga Chicago" says. Even if you are eating out and the food in front of you is not up to your usual yoga diet standards, blessing the meal and consciously intending to take the nourishment and expel the rest can turn it from a negative to positive experience, "Yoga Journal" notes.
Moderation is Key
As with any healthy diet, but especially the yoga diet that focuses on balance, moderation is the key. This not only applies to the quantity of food, but also to the flavorings found in it. Heavy spices, excess grease or an abundance of flavorings are not part of a yoga diet. Pure foods enjoyed for their nourishment are. Overloading your plate, or your taste buds, threatens to overload your mind and throw you off kilter.
When To Eat
"Yoga Journal" recommends that you should not eat two to three hours before your yoga class, but this recommendation is not supported by all yogis. CorePower Yoga Connection's website advises that you eat foods easy on your stomach and digestive system. Recommendations include foods such as bananas, oatmeal, pears, apples, low-fat yogurt, rice, veggies and hummus or toasted whole-wheat bread. Pre-workout snacks should be low-glycemic index and you should avoid simple sugars and carbs like sweets, donuts and white bread.
Exceptions to the Rules
Due to health reasons, food allergies or other factors, a strict vegetarian yoga diet won’t work successfully for everyone. That’s quite all right. “Yoga Journal” notes yoga diet variations where yogis eat fish, or even meat, to stay healthy and focused. It is more important to listen to your body and tailor the diet to what it needs, rather than follow a regimen that ends up making you weak, weary or sick.