The 8 best nutrition tips for yogis

As a true yogi, you have known for a long time: Your training does not only take place on the mat. But also in spirit and in general lifestyle. An important aspect is nutrition. We will tell you how to get your body and mind in perfect harmony with yoga and the right yoga nutrition.

To be completely in the now, the stomach must not rumble.

© Cliff Booth /

Food makes you happy – this also applies to the yogic diet. At least if you eat right. For there are certain foods that are good for your body and others that are more harmful. The big goal: to understand how the right diet – combined with yoga exercises – can generate less stress and more inner satisfaction.

What does the typical yoga diet look like?

The core of knowledge about yoga nutrition is based on Yogi Patanjali’s “Yoga Sutra”, in which he describes rules and principles on the one hand for himself and on the other for others. The top priority is not to lose weight and be slim, but to feel balanced and full of energy after eating. This is achieved through the right “what” as well as the right “how much”. In yoga nutrition, this is referred to as sattvic nutrition – from “Sattva”, which means something along the lines of “lightness” or “harmony”.

Instead of struggling with bloating after a meal, fatigue, abdominal pain or bloating indicates a more inappropriate food intake, which probably falls into the category of tamas (inertia) or rajas (restlessness). Rajaic foods, such as coffee, spicy foods or sugar, make the body and mind restless and should be reduced as much as possible in everyday life. Tamasian foods, in turn, drain the body of energy and make you slack and sluggish – physically and mentally. In the yoga diet, these include, for example, meat and alcohol, but also tobacco and of course other substances. Anyone who generally eats too much also becomes sluggish.

Colorful bowl

A balanced diet is as much a part of yoga as the mat or well-fitting clothes.

© Clark Douglas /

In yoga teaching, sattva, tamas and rajas form the three guns (guna means something in the direction of property), which are seen as fundamental properties of being or as “forces of nature”. They can be found in all areas of life – including nutrition. The background: Every food has a very specific effect on our body and mind – both positive and negative.

Sattwig food Rajasic food Tasty food
fresh fruits and vegetables and potatoes onions and garlic frozen or canned foods
legumes hot spices food heated in the microwave
rice sugar Dairy products
whole grain products wheat flour egg
nuts and dried fruit Coffee meat
Cereals and pseudocerealis black tea Fast food

How to combine yoga and nutrition and get the best out of yourself and your body is explained by Udo Einem, himself a passionate yogi, chef and health consultant, in his book “Das Yoga Kochbuch” (Christian Verlag, about 30 euros) and we tell you now here:

How does a yogi eat?

What specific nutritional advice is there from and to yogis? We have summarized the 8 most important for you here:

1. Develop more food awareness

Basic Rule # 1 for Yogis: Develop more awareness of your own body. “There is only one way of nutrition that is good for everyone, and that is the mindfulness way,” Denenkel writes in his book. But the one non-plus-ultra nutritional strategy in yoga does not exist. In yoga nutrition, there are no strict guidelines for how much protein, carbohydrates, etc. you should use each day. Each organism has different individual needs that need to be figured out. Your body already knows what and how much is good for it. Recognizing this is the first step and at the same time the biggest challenge in yoga nutrition.

2. Do not heat food (too much).

Yogis swear by heating as little food as possible and prefer to enjoy it raw instead. The meaning behind: Many nutrients are lost due to temperatures above 43 degrees Celsius, the enzyme activity drops to zero and the structure of the protein changes.

The woman meditates in nature

The perfect position begins in the mind – and does not end with a healthy diet.

© PNW Productions /

In summary: the life of the food is extinguished. “Nevertheless, liveliness is a quality trait that characterizes fresh food,” explains the yoga chef. It benefits your body. Enjoyment must not get in the way when it comes to yogic nutrition. Instead of preparing food, for example, fruits and vegetables are dried at low temperatures, marinated or pickled with oil and spices, and soaked in grains.

Eat less meat

Do yogis eat meat? A valid question that often pops up when considering the yogic lifestyle. “Strictly speaking, yogis remove meat from their diet completely. The reason for this is ‘Ahimsa’, which translates to non-violence,” says yoga expert Lassen. It’s about acting peacefully with others, both humans and animals. But you do not necessarily have to to reduce your meat consumption to zero.Rather, this point about yoga nutrition is about a more conscious approach.

Where does the meat come from? Under what conditions were the animals kept? Start thinking about it and pay attention to good quality. In this case, less is more. Instead of eating meat several times a week, treat yourself to a really good organic steak every now and then.

4. Regional organic products instead of industrially processed foods

What matters to yogis is the added value of their body. And you can look for that for a long time with industrially processed products. During production, food is usually heated, which not only loses nutrients but also taste. The industry often tries to smooth this out with a colorful chemical cocktail of additives, flavor enhancers and sweeteners.

Seasonal fruits and vegetables are a must in the Yogi kitchen

Seasonal fruits and vegetables are a must in the Yogi kitchen.

© Marco Gerber / Getty Images

So these foods have nothing to do with “natural” and “fresh”. Regional organic products so much the more: In order to be allowed to carry the state organic label, the food must meet a wide range of requirements. Pesticides, genetically modified seeds and mineral fertilizers are prohibited. This ensures that no chemicals end up in the food and the nutrient content remains as high as possible.

The same goes for the floor. It also benefits from organic farming, so it can care for the next seedlings optimally. At the same time, you are also doing something good for the environment. Long transport routes are no longer necessary for regional products. “In this way, yogic nutrition helps to promote sustainable production conditions,” writes Udo Denkel.

Tip: Shop more often at the weekly market, try new types of fruits and vegetables and find a butcher you trust. And no, the “fresh food counter” in the supermarket is not one of them.

5. Give the body time to digest

Digesting a meal is a competitive sport for the body. Before he can actually do anything about it, he has to disassemble everything into its individual parts. Most of this happens in the gut. The pancreas produces the necessary digestive juices. They contain enzymes that break down food into its basic building blocks. The pancreas also produces insulin, which regulates blood sugar levels. If she was fed consistently, she would work around the clock.

“In order for the pancreas to breathe deeply between meals, yogis make sure to take a break for about four hours between meals,” says Udo Einemkel.

Consciously enjoy every meal

Eating should not only be for nourishment. Take your time and consciously enjoy your meals. You may begin to notice the different tastes much more clearly.

Chew well and do not extinguish. Try to think of food as a timeout, a time to rebuild your energy stores. It can all take a while and has a completely different advantage: the feeling of satiety only sets in after about 20 minutes. Conscious consumption will also fill you up from smaller portions. For yogis, austerity is a requirement that also applies to food.

Another book tip for beginners in yoga nutrition: The Yoga method – 30 days challenge for mindful nutrition by Marcel Anders-Hoepgen (published by systemed, about 20 euros).

7. Do not forbid yourself everything

Woman enjoying donut

Mhhh! The most important thing is to be happy: there is no prohibition – only balance

© Tim Douglas /

Tips, well and good. You do not have to strictly adhere to all of them. Prohibition is the absolute killer of happiness, and that is why yogis do without them. Instead, they follow guidelines that they know will do their body and soul good. And you can get rid of these guidelines if you like. Eating is a beautiful thing. It is a balm for the soul and therefore every meal is a gift to the body. “Enjoy to your heart”, author Udo Einem also suggests. Assuming you have a good knowledge of food, you will of course return to balance after a long party.

8. Drink, drink, drink

The most obvious tip in the end: drink plenty of water. Even if it’s already ringing in your ears because you’re regularly called out to it from all corners, it still can not be said often enough. Water is everything and everything for the body and therefore also for the yogic diet. Especially after a sweaty yoga session, it is important to get the body’s water balance back in shape. But of course you can and should drink as much fluid as possible during the day. About 3 liters a day is recommended. If you do not feel like drinking clean water, you like different herbal teas that, in addition to a varied taste, also provide a number of antioxidants for an extra boost. But lemon, ginger or mint water also provides nutrients in liquid form.

What you often do in yoga classes: You drink the water hot. The body does not need energy to heat the water to body temperature. In addition, hot water stimulates metabolism and digestion, and pollutants dissolve and are removed more easily by the increased temperature.

You will see, with these nutrition tips from and to yogis, you will always be closer to yourself on the mat. A small, satisfied smile after a delicious meal is the first step in the right direction.

Franziska Orthey

Franziska Orthey

Kathleen Schmidt-Prange

Kathleen Schmidt-Prange

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