Maintaining perfect nutrition is challenging for those of us who lead a modern and busy lifestyle. We can certainly come close to attaining the proper amounts of protein, vitamins, and minerals through a healthy whole foods diet. Any small nutritional deficiencies may not have a noticeable effect on your day-to-day life, but it can show up on your yoga mat as fatigue, weakness, and soreness. Nutritional supplements are an easy and effective tool to enhance, deepen, and support your yoga practice. Supplements can boost your energy, enhance bone and muscle health, improve metabolism, and promote overall health and wellness.
Why Would Yogis Take Supplements?
A regular yoga practice and a yogic plant-based diet of whole foods provide an amazing boost of health and wellness for the body, mind, and spirit. Yet, a yoga practice requires high levels of energy, stamina, flexibility, and strength—for beginners and advanced yogis alike. Supplements can help with physical recovery after a challenging class by reducing inflammation and increasing circulation to sore muscles and achy joints. Other supplements can help calm the mind and increase focus for a more easeful meditation practice.
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There are three main factors on how to best support your body while adhering to a yogic diet and with the physical demands of hatha yoga postures.
- Enhance Diet. Many yogis are very health conscious and choose vegan or vegetarian based diets. If you are not mindful of your dietary choices, this might lead to some nutritional deficiencies. While having a lower amount of one or two vitamins or minerals won’t be terribly harmful, it also will not provide you a solid base for optimal health and wellbeing.
- Boost Energy levels. The increase in your physical activity when practicing yoga demands more energy from your body. If your diet is deficient in nutrients, you might not have enough energy to fully engage the body, breath, and mind to attain proper alignment and form in the poses. You might also feel excessively tired or drained after a yoga session.
- Enhance muscle health. Yoga can be an easy form of exercise that doesn’t strain the muscles, but most public classes are more fast-paced and physically demanding and can affect the muscles, ligaments, and tendons like a workout. Without a proper recovery, your muscles can get tight and reduce your Flexibility. Feeling the Muscle soreness of a previous yoga class will affect your ability to focus and fully participate in your current yoga practice. Not only that, but you might find yourself struggling to maintain specific yoga poses due to inflammation and discomfort. You can remedy this with some yoga supplements that contribute to lower levels of inflammation and healthier joints.
Other areas in which yogis could benefit from taking supplements include:
- Daily Stress
- Chronic inflammation in the body
- Lack of sunshine and fresh air
- Joint discomfort and soreness
- Reduced mental focus and concentration
- Low metabolism
- Low bone density
These are just some of the factors that can reduce the quality of your yoga practice and quality of life itself. If you’re looking to elevate your yoga practice, the best yoga supplements can help offset these issues and supporting your body and getting the most out of your practice.
An Ayurvedic diet is based on the idea that food has the power to balance and heal our bodies, hearts, and minds. The Ayurvedic approach to nutrition encompasses which foods are chosen, how they are prepared, where they are eaten, who they are shared with, and even our intentions as we eat!
The Best Supplements for Yoga
Adding a daily multivitamin to your routine is a quick and easy way to cover any nutritional deficiencies you may or may not know are present in your diet. There are also vitamins that can enhance your yoga practice and boost your flexibility. Certain nutrients – vitamin B12, vitamin C, magnesium – are needed for your body to produce energy on a cellular level. Supplementing them can help you reduce fatigue and have a great yoga session. Magnesium also has anti-inflammatory benefits that will help improve flexibility, minimize muscle cramps, and help reduce joint stiffness. Calcium is essential in helping build strong bones and improving circulation. Vitamin D helps absorb calcium and can boost your mood. Vitamin C is great in boosting your immune system and also promotes elasticity in your tendons, muscles, and ligaments. One of the easiest ways to cover all of these benefits is by taking a multivitamin!
CBD is the non-psychoactive compound from the hemp plant, which has been shown to have an amazing effect on our native endocannabinoid system, helping to protect the body and bring balance to our mind. Yoga and CBD both share similar mental and physical benefits, which is why so many yogis combine them together to really get the most of the two.
While CBD won’t make you ‘high,’ it’s very effective at helping you relax. It also soothes inflammation and can help with recovery after training. CBD has been reported to offer a massive number of benefits due to its influence over our in-built ECS system. Some of the results that yogis report from using CBD full spectrum oil include:
- Reduced feelings of stress
- Enhanced exercise performance
- Improved focus
- Less pain and inflammation
- Better sleep quality
Proper levels of protein are essential for strong and healthy muscles. Protein powders are often thought to be used only by gym aficionados, but dedicated yogis should think about adding this supplement to their diet. A healthy protein shakes can help your body recover from intense exercise and can nourish and strengthen your body after any type of yoga practice. Protein also helps maintain proper energy levels, a healthy immune system, and a healthy body weight. The most common dairy derived protein powders are formulated with Whey or Casein. Soy, pea, and brown rice protein powders are available for vegan diets. Soy protein should be used sparingly by male yogis, and pea and brown rice protein powders lack an essential amino acid.
Several common herbs and spices have anti-inflammatory properties and can be easily added to your diet to help reduce chronic inflammation and pain. Turmeric is a powerful antioxidant that has anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties, wound healing support, and support for liver health, respiratory, and gastrointestinal issues. Black pepper boosts the power of turmeric and has antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory benefits. Ginger has antioxidant effects and can be used to treat stomach upset, headaches, and infections.
Used for centuries in Chinese and Ayurvedic healing, Adaptogens help reduce mental, physical, and emotional stress. Adaptogens can also help reduce fatigue, boost mental focus, ease depression and anxiety, and improve your overall well-being. Popular and well-researched adaptogenic herbs include Ashwagandha, Goji berry, Rhodiola, Holy Basil, American Ginseng, Licorice root, Schizhandra, and Bacopa. Each type of adaptogen has a different effect on the body, so research the ones best for the results you are wanting.
When to Take Supplements with Yoga
Although you might assume that CBD is best used at night, more and more yogis are beginning to take small doses of CBD in the morning to start their day on the right foot. While a larger dose might leave you feeling groggy, a half dropper (depending on your body) can soothe morning tension and coffee anxiety, giving you a calm feeling before starting your yoga sequence.
Protein is best used after your workouts. It’s at this point when your muscles need replenishment to help them recover and grow stronger over time. Adding a scoop of protein powder to a smoothie is an easy way to incorporate them.
For general health purposes, a multivitamin can be taken at any time of the day. As for yogis specifically, you might want to take it with a light meal or snack, 1-2 hours before your yoga practice. Specific vitamins and minerals can help energize your body and reduce tension, which can be helpful before starting your yoga session.
Adding one or more anti-inflammatory herbs to your meals is an easy way to incorporate them into your diet. They can be overpowering, so start with small amounts and adjust as needed. Fresh ginger and turmeric can also be prepared as a tea that you can sip on before your yoga practice.
It is recommended to take stimulating adaptogens, like Cordyceps or Rhodiola, before 3 pm, to ensure a good night’s rest. Calming adaptogens, like Ashwagandha or holy basil, can be taken anytime. If you are taking adaptogens on a daily basis, it is best to take a break or change to a different adaptogen after six weeks. The closer you take these adaptogens to your yoga time, the more of their effects you will feel on your mat.