Eating for yoga

An instructor's advice: Clare Waters - Vinyasa flow yoga instructor

What is your best early morning wake-me-up?

I always try to start the day with a cup of hot water. I used to always drink coffee first thing in the morning but when I started reading more about Ayurveda (ancient Indian medicine system) I learnt that swapping coffee for warm water first thing in the morning is a really simple but amazing thing to do for your body. You can add a slice of lemon or lime to add a flavour.

What type of breakfast do you have on the weekend?

In the week I soak a mixture of porridge oats and chia seeds with coconut milk and leave it overnight in the fridge to eat the next morning. On the weekend I have the same but make it in a pan so it’s warm, adding a bit of raw cacao powder and coconut oil. Then depending on what I have I may add some berries, cacao nibs or pomegranate seeds to make it a little fancier!

Are there any particular foods you have before a yoga lesson?

I always try not to eat right before yoga. For me, practising on an empty stomach is the best way to practise. That’s why doing yoga first thing in the morning is great. Otherwise I’ll wait at least two hours after food before I practise in the day.

Do you suggest foods to your students?

If people ask me I’ll often pass on Ayurveda diet tips that my Ayurveda Therapist has passed on to me such as not mixing meat and dairy, making lunch the biggest meal of the day and dinner the lightest and also to sip warm water throughout the day, swapping it for ice cold drinks that aren’t so good for your body.

What are your five foods to a calmer soul?

Porridge, medjool dates, almond butter on rye bread, homemade hummus and sweet potato brownies.

What five things do you always get on your daily shop?

Some kind of salad leaf like spinach, coconut milk (Koko®), chickpeas, fresh fruit and vegetables.

What food have you learnt to avoid since becoming a yoga teacher?

I eat a lot less meat that I used to, maybe only once a week if that. I don’t have any cow’s dairy and I’m much more mindful about what foods I eat together, i.e I don’t eat fruit on a full stomach or mix meat/fish and dairy.

What is your mantra on cooking healthily?

Don’t restrict yourself with strict rules but find a way to eat which you are going to be able to sustain. Take a step back from what you eat and when and think to yourself, am I eating this because I’m hungry or am I bored, sad, procrastinating? We turn to food when we are uncomfortable and so eating gets entwined with our emotions and how we cope with dealing with them.

What has yoga taught you about eating healthily?

That healthy eating is mindful eating. Yoga has really taught me to eat with awareness. When it comes to eating a meal it should be the only thing you’re doing - not watching TV or doing work at your desk at the same time. Each mouthful should be experienced to really be able to digest the flavours and the meal itself. So many digestion issues come from wolfing food down with no awareness.

Going on an Ayurveda diet!

Ayurveda is an old part of Indian culture. The holistic healing system spans over 5,000 years and translates roughly to ˈthe scripture of longevityˈ. It is often used as alternative therapy and medicine, with Ayurveda promoting a system of wellbeing and health. In western culture the lifestyle centres around 'purification' procedures, rejuvenation therapies, herbal and mineral preparations, exercises and dietary advice based on 'body type'.

The Ayurveda diet is a personalised diet based on your own ˈbody typeˈ with the premise if you eat for your type, then you will bring balance to the elements within your body. Some in the yoga community believe this is great for your health. The main ˈbody typesˈ are Vata, Pitta, Kapha and Tridosha.

Cacao powder- nutritious chocolate?

When people think healthy eating, they never think that means chocolate, although we wish it did. Yet with cacao powder that wish has come true, and has been used for centuries. Cacao is the raw form of chocolate, making it full of antioxidants, minerals and fibre. With all the chemicals and preservatives absent from cacao powder it makes it the perfect ingredient to get your chocolate fixes while still being healthy. It makes the best hot chocolate but also adds an extra boost to a green smoothie.


With thanks to Clare Waters and the Yotopia studio for providing this article.