Develop yourself mentally and physically with nutrition, meditation, and yin yoga! You’ll love the results of the best “you” you can be!
There is a certain state of mind, different for each person, that is conducive to practicing meditation and Yin Yoga. Choosing carefully what and when you eat can help facilitate a state of mind that best suits your development mentally and physically.
First, looking at the experience of meditation, we want to be grounded yet alert. When it comes to food, there are a few things to keep in mind. Anyone who has eaten too much at one time knows the sluggish state of mind that follows. It often leads to either reduced mental function or a full-on nap. However, there is a certain grounded stability experienced after a satisfying meal (that doesn’t over-stuff you). The mind isn’t exactly sharp after eating, but it isn’t easily distracted either.
Each person has different struggles during meditation. Considering how or if you are eating before you meditate can help navigate the experience. Having some food before meditating can stabilize and ground you, while not eating before meditation can keep your mind more alert and crisp. Ultimately though, as you experiment, it is important to remember to accept whatever experience you have during your meditation. You aren’t trying to have a particular or “perfect” experience; you are simply trying to learn about yourself, your habits, and your mind.
Next, there is Yin Yoga, which in its own way is a meditation on the sensation of each pose. The difference is Yin Yoga is more about releasing tension and focusing on the tissues of the body. Since movement from one pose to the next is part of the practice, there is less chance to struggle with falling asleep like in meditation (although it is still possible). In general, feeling grounded and stable is the preferred mood during Yin and is usually how you feel afterward. The sharpness of the mind, while important, can sometimes lead to distraction or overthinking when the mind should be focused on the body. Having eaten before a Yin practice, depending on your constitution, can naturally help bring your focus inward. Since Yin is a slow practice that does not stimulate the Nervous System, it can also aid in the digestive process by putting you into the rest and digest mode of the Parasympathetic Nervous System. This does not mean over-eating before practice is okay nor does it mean eating before practice is necessary. It simply means experimenting and observing how you feel can lead to an evolution of your practice and health.
Finally, let’s talk about what to eat, if anything, before a session of meditation or Yin Yoga. This is an overview of both practices, and it should go without saying that junky, heavy, or processed foods are usually not optimal choices and may lead to additional distraction. Each person should have some familiarity with what foods make their body feel good (short-term & long-term), and if they don’t have this familiarity, then it’s time to start observing. Observing the effects of foods on the feelings in the body during meditation and Yin Yoga is ideal as you are giving it your full attention (rather than watching TV or socializing). Fruits, raw or lightly cooked veggies, even some carbs like minimally seasoned grains, rice, or bread, are good places to start. To feel more density in the belly and more grounding in the mind, some protein may be worth trying as well, either with lightly seasoned beans, lentils, or a protein smoothie.
The key is experimentation and observation. Take time over a prolonged period to gather information on your meditation or Yin Yoga practice and the effects food and nutrition have on it. Trying things that appear promising a few times on different days will start to paint a picture of what works for you and has the best chance to optimize your practice. Your practice will help you digest while also telling what the body prefers, all you have to do is listen.
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