“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” - Hippocrates

The yoga practice is all about the mind and body. When you do yoga postures, you're not just improving your flexibility, you're gaining a deeper understanding of your body, a spiritual understanding that can lead to inner peace, wisdom, and happiness.

Whether you're doing a sun salutation or some breathing techniques, the restorative properties of yoga come from its teachings on mindfulness and alignment. Everything in yoga pretty much boils down to an awareness of what you're doing, how you're doing it, and what's going on around you.

During the meditative aspects of yoga, even beginners are taught to think and focus on things. Without this level of deeper thinking, yoga would be little more than warming up. This is what sets yoga apart.

So how can you get the most out of yoga and meditation if you don't take the yoga philosophy onboard in every aspect of your life?

Your body is a temple after all and what you put in it is hugely important. You'd be surprised at how important food is in all types of yoga, be it vinyasa yoga, Bikram yoga, prenatal yoga, etc.

Both yoga and cooking are quite popular pursuits. More and more people are doing sun salutations. To make the most out of your yoga sessions, you’ll also have to change your lifestyle, including what you eat and your diet.

While the number of people in the UK who cook has dropped, there are still plenty of plenty of people who can cook very well. The main reason people don’t cook is that they don’t have the time to do it. Bringing together cuisine, deep breathing, and yoga poses is an interesting proposition.

While the yoga practice itself usually has you doing an asana (pose or posture), pranayama (breathing exercises and breath control), and meditation, you're never going to see the benefits on your mind, body, and spirit if you're not taking care of your body.

What are the best recipes to make when you’re doing yoga or sports?

In this article, we’re going to have a look at all of this.

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Why Combine Cooking with Yoga?

It’s always a good idea to pay attention to what we eat, think about what we’re doing, and consider why we’re doing it.

What are the best recipes for yogis?
You are what you eat. Make sure you eat right. (Source: Ataner007)

Whether you’re vegetarian, vegan, omnivore, lactose intolerant, etc., what we eat is not just a lifestyle but often an identity that defines part of who we are. Yoga acts similarly in this respect.

Yoga is a rich discipline that brings together all our senses and limbs and allows us to stimulate our chakras. It’s a sporting activity that also encourages us to eat, drink, act, and live responsibly and ethically. A yogi has to create dishes that are healthy and ethical.

Whatever is on your plate has to help you with your deep breathing, muscle toning, and meditation. You need to use rich and fresh ingredients that provide the right nutrients without being too heavy. You need to get as close to mindfulness through food.

Here are ten simple recipes that you can prepare to bring your mind, body, and spirit together.

What Is Yogic Food?

When making food for yoga, you need to think about your food, the way you eat, and the best way to live. Many yogis choose to reduce their consumption of meat to three times a week, for example, rather than never eating meat.

How do you eat mindfully?
Cooking for yoga is more than just about eating healthy, it's also about thinking about how you eat. (Source: RonPorter)

We're not looking at Ayurveda and alternative medicine here, but rather different meals and food that are good for a yoga lifestyle and will help you do both gentle and intensive yoga poses with ease. That said, when you eat, you still need to be mindful of the action and remember the role your consciousness plays in every aspect of your life.

It’s important to balance the flavours in your dishes so that you can actually enjoy eating them. As you eat, keep in mind the yoga principle of mindfulness. You don't need to be chanting your mantra as you eat or doing a yoga asana on your mat, you just need to focus on the experience of eating.

With sweet, sour, salty, spicy, and bitter flavours, every dish needs to balance and blend these flavours to get the most out of the ingredients. This is probably why yogis are very interested in food as it’s a simple, effective, and easy way to provide our their bodies with the exact nutrients they need. With pomegranates, vegetables, lemon juice, ginger, fenugreek, and sweet potato, you can make some really colourful, healthy, and delicious meals.

Put simply, there are plenty of great and simple recipes that bring together great taste and nutrients with just a few simple and fresh ingredients. This is probably the most important part; we want to know what’s on our plate because what we eat plays an important role in achieving mindfulness.

Vegetarian Yoga Recipes

  • Cumin lentil soup is a good staple that’s both healthy and gourmet at the same time. A bit of coriander can be mixed in to give the dish a little something extra. The good thing about this recipe is that you can modify it quite a bit to your tastes. The ingredients can be changed as long as you keep the lentils in. Think about it!
  • You should also consider a vegetable curry which can be varied, tasty, and wake up your taste buds. Curry has a good taste and some spice to it without being inedible. This is a dish with a good range of flavours if you choose your vegetables carefully, some lentils, and a bit of coconut milk.
  • What about sweet potatoes? Sweet potatoes are less calorific than regular potatoes and go with plenty of different types of food. You can roast them in the oven and season them with a few spices. Turmeric sweet potatoes, garlic sweet potatoes, pomegranate sweet potatoes, etc.
  • Yogic food is far from boring. You can also make some aubergine balls with a bit of garlic, ghee (clarified butter), and varied spices, dishes that are delicious and healthy. If you enjoy your food, you’ll enjoy your life.
  • A really simple dish you can make is a vegetable medley as this has the advantage of combining exactly what you need on a single plate. It’s simple and easy to prepare. You just need to mix a few red lentils, courgette, and squash with a bit of seasoning and you’re done.
  • Fancy a small salad? Yes, but not just any salad. A buckwheat bean salad is a delight for anyone who’s never tried it. It can even convert die-hard carnivores. And again, season with spices!
  • You can also use buckwheat to make noodle maki for your friends next time they’re at your place. You just have to replace the rice that you normally find in maki rolls with buckwheat noodles. For the seasoning, you can do almost whatever you fancy.

There are plenty of chickpea and lentil recipes for those who want something hearty with a bit of protein in it. In fact, pulses or legumes such as dried beans, green lentils, brown lentils, or any colour of lentils, chickpeas, regular peas, and quinoa are all great ingredients to have in your cupboards if you don't eat meat and still want the nutritional benefits of meat.

Do yogis have to be vegetarian?
When you change your physical routine, you'll probably have to change your diet. (Source: Couleur)

Just remember that you need to cook or boil dried pulses before you can eat them and you often need to soak them in a large saucepan overnight before you can even think about adding them to stews, soups, broths, salads, or curries.

Also make sure that your cupboards are full of fruits and vegetables so that you can make healthy stews with onion, carrot, celery, spinach, tomatoes, etc. Similarly, you'll want to have herbs, spices, seasonings and sauces such as parsley, thyme, wine vinegar, olive oil, and maybe even some yoghurt for creamy sauces.

Recipes for Yogis with Animal Proteins

“Take care of your body so that your soul will want to stay in it...” - Indian Proverb

Yogic cuisine isn’t necessarily meat-free. You can bet there are plenty of people who do yoga that still want to eat meat and enjoy the benefits of animal protein.

What is the ideal yoga diet?
When you eat right, you'll get more out of your yoga sessions. (Source: babawawa)

While non-violence is one of the core tenants of yoga, your mind and soul have to be open.

  • Would you like some fish carpaccio? This is very tasty with a bit of vegetable oil, fresh vegetables, and some curried lentils.
  • The same is true for vegetable pasta with white cabbage and spices, which is a very popular dish. For non-vegetarians, you can add a little bit of flavour with a bit of chicken.
  • Finally, bruschetta brings together different ingredients as well as your mind, body, and soul. In fact, if you choose a good cereal loaf, you can spread a bit of avocado on it, a few sunflower seeds, a bit of salmon or tuna, pomegranate, and end up with quite the delicious snack.

Yogic food isn’t necessarily vegetarian or boring, as you can clearly see. Bringing together flavours, colours, and smells, is great for your taste buds and the soul!

If you're looking for even more recipes, you should ask your yoga teacher or the other members of your yoga class. Be it hatha yoga, ashtanga yoga, or Iyengar yoga, yoga is a holistic practice that involves achieving relaxation, mindfulness, and balance through healing your mind, body, and spirit.

There are plenty types of yoga, but these healing yoga practices won't be effective if you're not changing your routine by applying the philosophy of them to what you eat, how you think, and how you breathe!

We don't recommend attending yoga classes after you've just eaten a whole heap of junk food. That said, you don't have to be constantly on a detox, either. Your diet, just like yoga teachers will tell you, is all about balance. There needs to be a balance between your body and mind. If your body appreciates the food you're giving it, your mind has to as well. If you're not enjoying the food that you're eating, it's going to be harder to remain calm and feel peaceful.

The last thing you want to do after a huge meal is stretch! It doesn't matter whether you're a beginner or an expert at yoga, you're not going to benefit from yoga therapy or power yoga if your diet isn't balanced and conducive to improving your mental, physical, and spiritual wellness. A balanced diet will help you get the most out the benefits of yoga. For more advice on what to eat, ask your yoga instructor about some of their favourite recipes.

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Joseph is a French and Spanish to English translator, language enthusiast, and blogger.