4 Tips to Get the Most out of your Yoga Practice
Maintaining a regular yoga practice is a great way to stay flexible, strong and focused. Ever wonder if you could enhance or compliment your practice with the food you eat?
You can! While eating fresh, local fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, whole grain and lean protein will do any body good before or after any type of exercise, selecting specific foods pre and post yoga may enhance the effects and make your body and mind feel amazing! Here is a brief overview of what to eat depending on the type of yoga you practice:
Restorative Yoga uses props like bolsters and blankets to support yogis in relaxing, passive poses. The body benefits from poses while exerting very little energy. Since this type of yoga can be more of a meditative or relaxation experience enjoy food and drink that will compliment your Zen-like state such as chamomile and green teas, oatmeal, ancient grains like bulgur, buckwheat and barely and bananas. These foods offer the effects of tryptophan, which is an amino acid precursor to serotonin and melatonin. Tryptophan has been shown to improve sleep, mood and the ability to deal with stress. Serotonin and melanin are hormones that also regulate mood, appetite and sleep.
Overnight Slow Cooker Spiced Porridge (recipe courtesy of thekitchn.com, http://www.thekitchn.com/breakfast-recipe-slow-cooker-spiced-porridge-for-a-crowd-163084)
2 cups ancient grains (this recipe originally uses steel cut oats but just about any ancient grain can be substituted. I’ve been loving farro.) 8 cups water 1/2 cup dried cranberries 1/2 cup chopped apricots 1/2 cup chopped dates 1/2 cup chopped figs or raisins 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon ginger 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg 1/8 teaspoon cloves 1/4 cup brown sugar 1/2 vanilla bean, split, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/2 teaspoon salt zest of 1 orange
Toppings: chopped roasted nuts, jam, local fresh fruit share, milk, and yogurt.
Combine everything except the orange zest and toppings in the bowl of a 3-quart or larger slow cooker. Set the cooker on its lowest cook setting ("LOW" or 8-10 hours), and leave overnight.
In the morning, break up the thin film that forms over the top of the porridge and stir it in. Scrape the sides and bottom. Stir in the orange zest.
Serve with toppings. Leftover porridge will keep refrigerated for at least a week. Reheat with a little milk or water to make creamy again.
Hatha Yoga is typically a gentle introduction to basic yoga postures. You might not sweat too much during a hatha yoga session but you’ll leave feeling stretched and loose. The focus of your pre and post yoga meals should be on nutrient density (foods with tons of nutrients per calorie rather than simply high energy or calorie foods). Choose foods rich in vitamins and minerals and make sure your meal contains lots of local vegetables and fruits along with some whole (ancient) grains and protein. Nutrient dense foods rich in vitamins A, C, K and B6, dietary fiber, folate, calcium, copper and manganese that you might see during the summer season include arugula rainbow chard, beets, summer squash and eggplant offer dietary fiber, vitamin C, potassium and folate), summer squash, eggplant and new potatoes. Lean protein like chicken offers vitamin B6, niacin, pantothenic acid, thiamin, selenium, zinc, phosphorous and iron and red fish and flounder are great sources of omega 3 fatty acids, B vitamins and vitamin D. Pasta has its place in a healthy diet too! Pasta offers selenium and manganese in addition to folate and carotenoids. Selenium plays a role in building healthy immune and reproductive systems and manganese is used to build healthy nervous systems. Pasta is also a good source of dietary fiber.
Easy Pasta Primavera:
3 carrots, peeled and cut into thin strips 2 medium zucchini, cut into thin strips 2 yellow squash, cut into thin strips 1 onion, thinly sliced 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into thin strips 1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips 1/4 cup olive oil Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 1 tablespoon dried Italian herbs or herbes de Provence 1 pound pasta 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. Toss cut up veggies like carrots, zucchini, summer squash, onion and colorful peppers with a drizzle of olive oil and a little salt and pepper.
Roast the veggies in the oven until they are tender (about 20 minutes). Stir the veggies about halfway through cooking.
Meanwhile make your favorite pasta according to the package directions (make 1 lb). Scoop 1 cup of cooking water before dumping the pasta into the colander. You'll use it later.
Toss the veggies with the pasta and sprinkle a tablespoon of italian herbs, a little salt and pepper to taste and 1/2 cup parmesan cheese. Add the cup of cooking water. Viola!
Pre/Post Natal Yoga incorporates deep breathing and relaxation with the goal of improving sleep, reducing anxiety and stress, increasing strength, flexibility and muscular endurance. Since nutrient needs like protein, iron, calcium, zinc and folate increase during pregnancy be sure eat lots of dark leafy greens, beans and lean protein like eggs, fish and dairy.
Baby Bump Green Smoothie
½ clean spinach leaves (folate, iron, vitamin C)
1 cup Greek yogurt (protein, Calcium)
5 walnuts (Omega – 3 fatty acid)
1 cup berries (antioxidants, vitamin C)
1 cup almond milk (Calcium)
½ banana (potassium, vitamin C, folate)
2-3 ice cubes
Ashtanga or Power Yoga is usually a quick moving and intense practice. This is the style that may make you break a sweat. Remember to bring your water bottle to restore any lost fluid and/or electrolytes with plain water or homemade electrolyte water. You may burn more calories during this type of yoga than the other types of yoga but the bottom line is the same – NUTRIENT DENSITY. Dark leafy greens, berries, melon, whole grains like quinoa, spelt, rye and emmer and lean protein will give you energy and strength.
Homemade electrolyte water:
Use a 1:3 ratio of any citrus juice to drinking water. Add ½ tsp sea salt and 5 tsp honey, maple syrup, agave or any other natural sweetener. Add any fresh local fruit and/or sliced citrus fruits to the water mixture. If you are opting for berries, gently mash them before adding. Keep the beverage in the fridge.