Braving Bikram: Mindfulness and the yoga diet

Photo by Rob Owen-Wahl via stockxchng

As exercise goes, Bikram yoga takes the cake in the intensity department. For 90 minutes, my heart bangs in my chest and sweat soaks every part of my body. I feel like I’m working my ass off, literally. When I first started practicing, a whole three weeks ago, I wondered how many calories Bikram burns. Quick internet research suggests approximately 600 calories, depending on height, weight, gender, age and energy expended, of course. Not bad. Not bad at all. Coupled with the “yoga diet,” I’m hoping the remedy to this post may be in sight.

Now when I say “yoga diet,” I don’t mean to suggest Bikram comes along with a set of required or forbidden foods. For me, the “diet” part is truly about finding meals that are compatible with 90 minutes in 105-110 degree heat. Typically, this means foods that are light, easily digestible and don’t make me want to throw up in class. (Newbies get bonus points aplenty for not vomiting in the hot, sweaty room you know.)

Consequently, I find myself on a diet of sorts. Indulging in fatty foods even four hours before class? Nausea in class. Chomping tortilla chips and salsa? Nausea. Cauliflower and chicken? Bloating and nausea. Bruschetta? Nausea and bad breath. Sense the theme here? Every choice I make preceding class, I feel in my body and notice in my performance.

The ultimate lesson I think is mindfulness. Yoga as a practice is about increasing mindfulness and setting intention. I’m learning this extends beyond the studio and into my daily life… the water I chug during the day, the yogurt I choose over ice cream, all the little choices that add up to make a difference. While my habits aren’t changing over night, I notice little shifts. I’m paying attention now and that, I think, is a very good thing.

Yoga aside, what are you paying attention to in your day to day?


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