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Posts Tagged ‘Body Wisdom’

Yoga 101: What To Eat Before Yoga Practice

Do you wonder what to eat before you practice yoga? After all, we are often twisting, strengthening, extending, and bending our bodies into many different shapes that have profound effects on our organs, including our stomach and digestive tract. This can lead us to avoid food before practice. However, we are often expending significant energy in class, which requires adequate nourishment. So what to do?


Deciding what to eat before yoga practice is highly personal. What works for someone else might not work for you. However, there are some general nutritional principles to consider.


1. Digestion 101:


Digestion time varies between individuals. To build maximum energy, consider eating healthy, balanced meal two to three hours before you practice yoga, which allows your body to be nourished and your stomach to be empty. If you are practicing first thing in the morning, try to allow at least 30 minutes to digest your food before you step onto your mat. When you are running short on time, consider eating a light snack that is easy to digest.

Although raw veggies are delicious and healthy, the fiber takes a lot of energy to break down and assimilate. To avoid gas and bloating, you may want to steer clear of high fiber foods such as cruciferous veggies and legumes (beans, lentils, peas) before you practice.

Most importantly, pay attention to your own experience so you can discover what works best for you.

Which foods nourish you and how much time do you need to enjoy your practice without bloating, gas, or a stomachache?

Short on time before class? Consider making our Favorite Green Smoothie, or enjoy a piece of fresh fruit. Have 10 minutes? Try our Summer Smoothie Bowl for complete nourishment!



2. Learn About Macronutrients:


There are six macronutrients: carbohydrates, protein, fat, water, vitamins, and minerals.


1. Carbs include grains, starches, sweeteners, fruits, and veggies. They burn relatively quickly for fast energy.

2. Protein can be found in legumes, veggies, seeds, and animal products. Protein helps build and repair your muscles.

3. Fat comes from fruit, vegetables, seeds, and animal products. Fat takes the longest to digest and is essential for the functioning of your brain and heart.

4. Water is so important. After all, you are made of 60% water. Learn more about hydration: The Five Pillars of Water and Hydrate the Ayurvedic Way.

5. Vitamins are often thought of as small pills and tinctures at most grocery and drug stores, but they actually occur naturally in the food you eat. If you eat a balanced diet, your food likely contains the vitamins you need to stay healthy. The more colorful your fruits and veggies, the more vitamins they contain.

6. Minerals include calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride and sulfur. Plus there are trace minerals such as iron and zinc. They are found in the foods we consume and keep the body in tip top shape. Want to make sure you are getting your minerals? Nuts, beans and lentils, and dark leafy greens are the foods containing the most minerals!


Why is this important? Digestion time varies based on the macronutrients you eat. Plus your body and energy responds differently to each macronutrient. Fat takes the longest time to digest, for example, while carbohydrates provide quick energy and easier digestion.


So what to do? Consider consuming a light, balanced meal of healthy carbohydrates and protein before you practice for optimal energy. Give yourself enough time to digest. Beyond comfort and ease in your belly, this way of eating will give you adequate energy to move through a yoga sequence. Plus nourishing your body before you practice will help tone and strengthen your muscles.

You can follow a practice with a healthy and balanced meal to help your muscles repair and your mind to focus throughout your day. A healthy post-asana practice meal includes a balance of all of the macronutrients.

As always, pay attention to your own experience. Which foods are easy to digest and give you adequate energy before you practice? And which foods make your body feel nourished after you practice?

3. Eat Real Food:


These days we can spend each meal dining from a package. However, protein shakes and energy bars are not real food. That said, they can be wonderful supplements to meals. A simple way to think about eating real food is to avoid foods that come in a package. Another simple consideration is to eat from the rainbow. See if you can eat as many colors in one meal as possible. The color in red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple foods is indicative of vitamins, minerals, and cancer-fighting antioxidants.

4. Listen to Your Body:



Your body will lead you home, if only you slow down long enough to listen. Your body tells you when you are hungry and when you are thirsty. It may even tell you exactly what it wants to be eating. Plus your body lets you know when you are satisfied. Paying attention to the language and signals of your own body will become easier the more you practice yoga. The mind-body connection that we cultivate when we practice in yoga helps us off the mat and at the table. As we begin to tune in and listen, the signals of hunger and satisfaction coming from our bodies grow louder and clearer. Equally helpful, yoga helps to develop discernment, giving us the capacity to choose healthy foods that nourish our bodies, our minds, and our souls.


Although it is important to learn the basics of nutrition, it is equally important to develop body wisdom. Returning to the knowledge you knew when you were a child will lead you home to your healthiest self as an adult. Eat when you are hungry. And stop when you are satisfied. Then pay attention to how you feel during your practice and learn from your own, direct experience.


 

Yoga 101: Humble Warrior

“Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility.”

Saint Augustine 



One of the fascinating parts of yoga asana is the hidden meaning that lies beneath the form. Unpacking each pose or posture can deepen awareness of the subtle effects of the practice. Whether we are opening our hearts or folding forward, each posture contains a symbolic meaning that is supported by the physical form. 


Humble warrior is a posture where the yogi bows forward in a Warrior I stance with their hands clasped behind their back. Bowing forward, tucking and rounding the torso, the yogi allows their hands to move toward the floor in front of their head staying mindful to release the shoulders away from the ears. 



 

The adjective “humble” comes from latin roots humilis, which can be translated as “from the earth” or “grounded.” Defined as “a modest or low view of one’s importance,” humility or “being humble” can easily be associated with the emotions of submission or passivity. However, the asana, Humble Warrior, invites forth a new, more expansive definition of being humble.


If you have ever attempted the posture, you already know that Humble Warrior requires an incredible amount of strength and balance alongside an element of surrender.



Each stage of entering the posture teaches us something about embodied humility. We first find stability and presence with solid footing and a rooted foundation. Then we balance our hips as we send our front knee out directly over the ankle. Our hips are strong emotional centers in our bodies and, by balancing and opening our hips in this posture, we are also releasing stuck emotional energy. Lifting and opening the heart, we clasp our hands behind us, melting our shoulder blades down our backs and interlacing the fingers. The next action is to draw the navel toward the spine, tucking and rounding, engaging the core.


At the core resides an energy center called the Manipura Chakra, which is associated with self-esteem and confidence. A strong sense of self helps this energy center stay vital and healthy. Likewise, a healthy sense of self precedes humility.


After we lift the heart and engage the core, we bow the head toward the inside of the front foot, releasing the head and the neck, while keeping our hips and shoulders aligned. 


Humble Warrior teaches us that humility is much more than submission, or even letting go of pride.


Here’s one way to look at the subtleties of the posture. Finding stability and strength, we can stand in the present moment on our own two feet. By aligning and opening our hips, we balance and let go of stuck emotional energy, generating inner peace. By releasing our shoulders (or “should-ers”) down our back with our clasp, we open and lift the heart. Engaging our strong core, we express a healthy sense of self. And, finally, surrendering to higher power with a deep bow toward the floor, we let go of pride.


With each step, we discover our own sense of humility. Far from passive or submissive, we are strong, balanced, open, and bowing to a power higher than ourselves in this posture… and in life. Humble Warrior helps us to develop the body wisdom and state of mind that expresses humility.



“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.”

-C.S. Lewis



Enjoy this article? #GoDeeper and learn the ins and outs of the form with Five Pillar’s article: The Other Warriors: Reverse and Humble.


*Article Image taken from http://blog.robertrandall.com