In the yoga world (generally speaking) it’s common to find people proselytizing about pure, clean and raw food diets. This will not be that article.
I truly believe that everybody requires a different diet. Some people are fine being raw, vegan superstars and other people’s bodies do better when they incorporate meat into their diet. In light of that I wrote this article to outline the dietary changes that I found support my hot yoga practice.
Lighten up on alcohol
If you’ve ever practiced hot yoga the day after excessive libations, you know… booze squeaking through your organs and skin is nasty. If you like to drink from time to time, that’s great, just try to keep it light, especially the day before you practice. Another reason to go light on the alcohol: you’ll feel less hot during class!
Increase “real” salt intake
Salt has a bad rap, but when you’re practicing hot yoga it’s critical that you replenish your salt reserves. Think of how much you sweat during a 90 minute class, in order to feel good inside and outside of class, proper salt intake has been one of my best tricks. I had a great guest post about how not all salt is created equal. Did you know that regular table salt is highly processed and is missing key minerals found in natural salt? I suggest investing in Real Salt (my favorite brand) or pink himalayan sea salt.
Happy meat and fish
I have found that modest meat and fish consumption helps with my energy levels during the day at work and in the yoga room. I opt for “happy” meat and fish, meaning they were humanely raised and sustainably harvested. My go to meats and fish include: roast chicken, sardines, smoked salmon, and turkey burgers. If you’re looking for non-meat proteins, here are three of my favorite.
I usually practice afterwork and therefore enjoy a light dinner after yoga practice. Some of my favorite quick and healthy meals include: avocado, mayonnaise and salt on sprouted toast, a broiled turkey or veggie burger with sliced onion, romaine lettuce on toast, or a simple stir fry that I have pre-prepared in my refrigerator.
Lots of lemons!
I find adding fresh lemon to my water before and after class is a great way to replenish my body with certain nutrients like: vitamin C, potassium (helps fight muscle cramps), phosphorous and magnesium. Lemons have also been said to help balance the body’s pH. I also use lemon in most of my homemade dressings and on sauteed greens like kale and spinach.
Load up on brassica vegetables
These vegetables are bad ass. They are loaded with nutrients and minerals – having some of the highest nutritional properties out of the vegetable family – and they are great for detoxing unwanted chemicals from our bodies. Hot yoga is a great detox of unwanted toxic chemicals in our bodies through sweat, when you add on a high brassica diet you can boost an internal detox at the same time. These vegetables will help give you the energy you need to maintain your stamina in class. Brassica vegetables include: Kale, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kohlrabi, mustard greens, brussel sprouts, turnips and rutabagas.
Light sugar consumption
The World Health Organization came out with new sugar guidelines: each day adults should not exceed 26 grams of sugar (which adds up to less than a soda a day). This includes sugars that are found in fruits, pastas, rice and other foods. I don’t consider myself a big sugar person, so I decided to track how much sugar I was taking in. By lunch time I had already met my quota… yikes. And I’m not big on cookies, muffins, sugary granola bars and the like. Cutting down on sugar intake, in particular refined sugar found in processed foods, desserts, flavored coffee creamer, etc. helped me maintain a healthy blood sugar during the day. This translates to your yoga classes and overall well being!
Filtered tap water
Water is like liquid gold when you’re practicing hot yoga! And it’s important to fill up on good water. Did you know that bottled water is less regulated than tap water? A simple carbon filter that attaches to your faucet or a carbon filtered pitcher is the best way to consume water. You avoid excessive plastic waste, and filter out the majority of heavy metals and pesticides that many contaminate tap water. Be sure to fill up with a stainless steel water bottle to avoid the leaching of unnecessary plastic additives.
Do you like soda but know it’s not very good for you? Try investing in a Soda Stream, an at home soda water maker. It’s a wonderful treat to get that bubbly water we all crave minus the excess sugar of soda. Simply add fresh lemon, lime or grapefruit for a refreshing post-class twist!
Breathe healthy air
We don’t think about the air we breathe as part of our diet, but just like water, air is central to our livelihood. As you know from practicing yoga, focusing on the breath during class gives you the energy needed to work through hard postures. Fill your home space with air filtering plants to help filter out unnecessary toxic chemicals in your home environment. This focus on clean air at home is an important and overlooked piece of our hot yoga “nutrition.” My favorite air filtering plants include: peace lilies (like lots of water), snake plants (need very little water) and pathos (medium water).
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Disclaimer: I am not a health care professional and all diet related matters should be discussed with your physician. This content is for educational purposes only and is not intended to treat or cure one’s illness.