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Ask a Yogi: 7 Things You Should Not Do Before a Yoga Practice

If you are interested in starting yoga, or you have just started, there are many things that you need to know in order to optimize your practice. For example, something that you should not do before a yoga practice. 

There are several things that you should not do before a yoga practice. These include rushing yourself right before practice, eating a large meal, consuming caffeine, drinking alcohol, overhydrating (though you should be hydrated), wearing perfume or some other scent, and cold stretching. 

If you want to know how to get the most out of your yoga, read on. Some of the things that you shouldn't be doing before a yoga practice might actually surprise you.

Rush Yourself or Act Haphazardly

A big part of yoga is relaxation. This is why if you make this commitment, you should state and keep an intention to dedicate a part of your day to yoga. This means you need to give yourself time to get ready and unwind before your practice. 

If you are scrambling to get everything together and get to class on time, this can lead to increased tension in your body. Additionally, if you aren't wearing the right clothing or are feeling too overwhelmed, you might not be able to get the most out of your practice. 

The key is to dedicate a part of the day to slowing down and not only doing the exercises themselves but spending some time getting into the ideal frame of mind for yoga first.

Eat a (large) Meal

Yogic Meal made from fried sweet potato's, garlic, tomatoes and yogurt sauce

It can be tempting to eat a meal right before yoga, especially if you are hungry. It can sometimes be hard to plan your meals out at specific times every day, and it may be that you haven't had anything to eat all day. 

However, your stomach needs to be somewhat empty in order to do your poses properly. Remember, yoga involves quite a bit of twisting and bending, depending on the types of poses you are doing. If you know you're going to be doing yoga that day, do your best to eat much earlier in the day, so that you aren't eating right before your class. 

On the other hand, you should make sure not to starve yourself either. Yoga can be pretty rigorous, and you don't want to risk becoming lightheaded or experiencing another complication. A small snack is fine if you have it at least 30 minutes before your practice. You shouldn't have a large meal, but you can have a small smoothie, a handful of almonds, or a banana. 

Also, you are free to eat as much as you want after your yoga practice is over.


Have Caffeine

Many people rely on coffee, but you should not have one right before you go to class. Caffeine throws off a person's internal balance and triggers stress reactions, including increased heart rate and muscle tension. 

Additionally, caffeine can push your serotonin levels down; even though the immediate effect is to boost them, these levels plunge once the caffeine is gone. In addition, caffeine inhibits your body's ability to produce it. Serotonin is a neurochemical that contributes to your sense of well-being, so you want these levels to be as high as possible when you are doing your yoga. 

Also, keep in mind that doing yoga itself is going to increase your heart rate. It could cause complications if the coffee has already done so prior to the practice. 

If you want something to drink before your next class, have a green smoothie instead of a coffee. Of course, make sure to drink it at least 30 minutes beforehand. This will be better for your mindset during yoga.

Drink Alcohol

Many of the poses in yoga require a great deal of balance. If you have ever consumed a lot of alcohol in one sitting, you know that alcohol can interfere with your balance. Even if you just have one drink, it can have negative effects on your yoga. 

Even one alcoholic drink can lead to dehydration, drowsiness, and low blood pressure. This can lead to shakiness when you are trying to master difficult poses that require a lot of balance. 

Also, you should keep in mind that your mental acuity probably isn't going to be as sharp after you have had even a little bit of alcohol. Yoga is not just a physical exercise but a mental one. You want to have all of your facilities in peak condition to get the most out of it.

Glass of water with ice cubes, lemon, mint and blueberries

Drink Too Much Water

It is important to make sure that you are hydrated for yoga, particularly if you are doing a form of hot yoga where you will be sweating a lot. It's fine to drink water before, during, and after class. 

However, you should use your judgment and make sure not to drink too much. The reason for this is similar to the reason why you should not eat a lot of food before a yoga class. A full stomach will not help you comfortably do your poses. 

Sometimes, the consequences can actually be more than mere discomfort. If you overhydrate, this can lead to hyponatremia. This can really interfere with your yoga when it causes energy loss, cramps, and muscle weakness.

Put on Scents

A lot of people make a habit of putting on body sprays, perfumes, colognes, and other pleasant scents. However, it would be best if you did not do this before yoga. 

A major component of yoga is constant deep breathing. Strong fumes will interfere with all of the positive vibes you should be experiencing. Even light body sprays can be irritating and distracting, not only to you but to the people around you. 

If you are going to a yoga class and want to put on perfume because you are self-conscious about body odor, you should try to get past this. You won't be the only one who is sweating.

Do a Cold Stretch

This one can be kind of counterintuitive because most people have been trained to believe that stretching is always good before exercise. However, in the case of yoga, if you stretch before you do your warm-up, your muscles won't feel as supported and can, in fact, be very wobbly. This is particularly true if you hold your cold stretch for more than 90 seconds. 

If you stretch before yoga, it can actually lead to injury, such as pulling or tearing one of your muscles. In addition, it's entirely pointless because yoga is all about stretching. The poses that you do throughout your yoga practice should ease your body into the stretching of yoga safely and slowly. 

However, this doesn't mean that you shouldn't warm up at all. If you happen to arrive at your yoga class early, there are certain poses that you can do in order to help you unwind and try to get into the right frame of mind for your practice. These include reclining butterfly pose (Supta Baddha Konasana), hero pose (Virasana), and downward-facing dog (Adho Mukha Shvanasana).

Conclusion

There is more to yoga than most people know. Many people see it as a simple set of stretches, but the truth is that it is important to be in the right physical and mental states before you start a yoga practice. If you follow the tips that we mentioned above, you will be able to get more out of your yoga practice. 

Gita Mike

Gita Mike

Gita Mike is a long time meditator and yoga practitioner who believes there is a spiritual solution to any challenge that we are faced with. She wants to share her experience and knowledge to help others find their path towards mindfulness, peace, and fulfillment.

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