The accidental yogi
Food and yoga don’t mix!
As I sit here typing, I’m hungry. Not starving, could eat a horse type hungry, but pretty darn peckish. I need more than just a piece of fruit. But I’m conscious that I have a yoga class in two short hours from now and I’m not entirely sure eating something substantial would be a good idea. You see, recently I have been learning about the intricacies of eating too close to a class, eating the wrong things before a class or even the day before a class. Yoga and food, it seems, do not always mix.
The first time I had a bad experience was totally my own fault. I took a sneaky detour through a certain fast food chain’s drive-thru one lunchtime (not very yogi I know – but we all have our weaknesses), a good five hours before class. I was very conscious that I had practice later but I was certain that the over full, sluggish, bloaty feeling would have passed by the time 8.30pm rolled around.
8.30pm was OK. 8.40pm was alright too. But by my estimation, it was around 9pm when we reached the Cobra series, that my body started to react to the contents of my stomach. Let me give you some advice. Don’t ever attempt bow pose with a McBrick, or some cheap processed pot noodles in your tummy. Cue nausea, the uncontrollable urge to burp and even a dry retch or two every time you have to drop your head back. The pressure on your abdominal organs is enough without the extra load. Yuck! Contorting, twisting and a full tummy do not go together. All I wanted was a one and a half hour Savasana. In my bed.
After this most unpleasant experience, I spent some time looking into it (I consulted my good friend the internet, picked Sebastien’s brains and also fished around for advice with some health-loving friends) and it turns there is no definitive answer when it comes to what you should eat and when in relation to your practice. The reason being that every body is different, in terms of what they need (or don’t need) for fuel, how long they need to digest, their natural metabolism and of course, their individual practice styles and schedules. Well. That’s not helpful to me personally, right now at this minute! I’m h-u-n-g-r-y!
Many people say eating as little as half a piece of fruit – in particular bananas and melon – or a handful of almonds is enough to stave off hunger if you feel the serious need to eat before practice, while other people insist abstaining is the only way to get the most out of your session. One website even told me that eating some dark chocolate before class would improve my concentration and stave off my hunger (and hey, if it’s on the internet, it must be true, right?). I think the key is to listen to your body. Just like during practice, it will tell you exactly what’s right for you. And this will come with trial and (unfortunately) probably some errors.
So I started to pay attention to the way my body responded to different amounts, different ingredients and even different spices! Oh, and my alcohol consumption the night before. That makes a big difference too – especially in a morning hot yoga class. If you’ve been drinking, when you start to taste (and smell) red wine again, it’s really not conducive to a good class. After all, if you’re going to drink at breakfast time, it may as well be a Mimosa or a Bloody Mary. On a Sunday. When you’re not going to yoga class, obvs.
Personally, I’ve always found it quite easy to skip breakfast, so I think my body is telling me to go to the morning classes at Hot Yoga Ibiza, but unfortunately, my mind seems to disagree. From the minute I wake up my brain is racing with all the things I have to do, write, read, edit or thinking about the places I need to go and the people I need to meet. I prefer to just get on with my work rather than lose my concentration in class (perhaps this means I need a little more morning yoga and a little less work to correct this imbalance? But that’s a blog for another day).
And this leads me back to my current state of hunger. It’s the end of the day, and now there’s only one hour until class (time flies when you’re writing blogs) and I don’t want to be the student in the class with the giant belly growls during dead body pose. I’m scared I’ll get dizzy during balancing stick and have to begrudgingly sit out the next pose while I regain my balance. I’m off to buy a coconut water, and will see if that fills the hole for me today. I feel a bit like the Goldilocks of yoga – I guess I’ll just have to keep trying until I find the snack that is j-u-u-s-t right!