Yoga on an Empty Stomach

Let me start this post by clarifying the title: I do not believe in diets. Period. End of Sentence.

Everyone I talk to and every magazine I read tells me that a different diet is best for me. Oprah wants me to eat 6 small meals a day. Nutritionists want me to eat 3 medium meals a day with snacks. Yoga Journal wants me to eat vegan/vegetarian, plant-based meals only until satisfied. The local Crossfitters want me to eat like a Caveman. Is your head spinning yet? Because mine is!

Though I am a yogi, and have dabbled in vegetarianism, I do not follow any strict way of eating. Yes, this little yogi eats filet mignon and lamb shanks (thanks for trying them with me, Kristin!). When my students ask me what diet is best for yogis my answer is simple, “eat what makes your mind and body feel its best”.

There is one rule I make, however. Sri Pattabhi Jois and B.K.S. Iyengar would surely agree with me when I say that yoga should be practiced on an empty stomach. This means that you should try not to eat within 2-3 hours of your yoga class. Should you find yourself absolutely starving, I recommend you opt for a handful of nuts, a power bar, or any other type of small, dense, and nutrient-packed food. It is filling to the appetite without taking up much physical room in the body.

You may be asking at this point why it is so important to practice on an empty stomach. Please see the picture below, a demonstration of Mayurasana:


As you can see, Mayurasana is achieved by squeezing the elbows together and, gently and lovingly, jabbing them into your lower ribs to hold you up. Do that on a full stomach and you will be very sorry you ate that casserole. Or how about Ganda Bherandasana…yes, his stomach is facing upward!:

Ganda Bherandasana

So next time you sign up for that yoga class online, do a little homework. What time is the class and can I go that long between meals? If not, do what I do and keep a little bag of almonds in your yoga mat bag. It will keep you energized enough to tackle the hard poses, but light enough to twist your body like Iyengar! 🙂

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