Can you do Yoga on a Full Stomach?

Over the years, yoga has become increasingly more popular.  It is a great way to exercise mind and body in one.  It is swiftly becoming an everyday activity for many of us, and since we are doing it more often, and in different times of the day, we find ourselves asking the question – Can you do yoga on a full stomach. 

Because of the nature of yoga, the constant bending, and unnatural movements, it is not advised to do yoga on a full stomach.  If you do decide to practice yoga on a full stomach, you may experience unpleasant symptoms such as cramping and nausea/vomiting.  Aside from physical effects, digestion itself can consume a lot of energy, leaving you feeling drained.

Yoga has many positive effects on the mind and body.  We must practice it properly and be ready physically to practice.  There are many positive benefits to practicing yoga for mind and body.  With practicing yoga, you want to always make sure you are practicing properly and safely. There are a lot of do and don’t and things that can hinder or help you through the process of learning yoga.

Is Yoga Safe Right After Eating?

Doing yoga right after eating is not ideal. Doing yoga immediately after eating is physically uncomfortable, and as mention above, you can get sick and become lethargic.  It is advised to not eat for 2-3 hours before your class or session, and if you had a light snack, 1.5 – 2 hours will suffice.  With the physical activity required in yoga, it is much better suited for you to not be full or to have just eaten. 

With an empty stomach or a not so full stomach, you will better be able to participate and get the most out of your session.  Imagine eating a full meal and then heading to class, only to twist and turn and bend in ways you don’t normally do otherwise. 

At the same time, everyone’s body is different, and we can all handle different things.  What it comes down to is listening to our body and making sure that we do not push our limits to an extent that it is harmful.

Is There Anything Safe to Do Yoga-Wise After Eating?

Yes, there is! While it is generally not a good idea to do yoga on a full stomach, there are a few things that are safe to do after eating a full meal.  Although, it is not wise to do a full class, there are a few poses to do that will aid in digestion.

Adamantine Pose

Also known as the ‘vajrasana pose,’ ‘thunderbolt pose’ or ‘diamond pose,’ this pose is done by resting your bottom resting on your calves, and stretching your trunk straight upwards, you can also add in raising your arms if you prefer.  When entering this pose, it helps stimulate the vajra nadi (part of your nervous system), which aids in digestion.

This pose can help relieve your sciatica pressure and can helps with indigestion and constipation.  When you are in this pose, it starts to cut off blood flow to the lower part of your body, so it may be difficult to stay in the pose for some.  When the circulation is cut off to your lower half, it increases the blood flow in the pelvic and stomach area, which is what aids in the digestion of your meal. 

Half Moon Pose (Ardha Chandraasana)

The half-moon pose is an intermediate level pose, so it may be a little difficult for beginners.  The stance is as follows:

  • Start in the triangle pose
  • Put your right hand on the floor in front of your right foot, fingertips only
  • Slowly lift your left leg to the side, keeping it straight, eventually, it will be level to the floor once it is fully extended
  • Once you are balances, stretch your left arm straight up above your head
  • At this point, your right hand will no longer be on the floor, but hold it downward to keep your balance

The pose itself is more difficult, but in this certain position, you are stretching out your stomach muscles. By doing so, this will stimulate your digestion, helping relieve constipation and overall circulation in your body.

 Cow Face Pose (Gomukhasana)

Like the others, this will aid in digestion by stretching the stomach and spine muscles.  The pose is as follows:

  • Start by sitting on your mat with your legs outstretched in front of you
  • Take your right leg and put it under your left hip
  • Take your left leg and lay it on top of you right thigh
  • Both arms need to connect behind your back, left arm over your shoulder, right under your shoulder
  • Hold the pose

This pose is a little easier, and you should be able to hold it longer.  This pose with stretch out numerous parts of your body and will help to open your chest up with reaching behind your back.  Most importantly, it extends your latissimus dorsi, which is that largest muscle in your back.  This will allow for better overall flow and digestion.

Health Benefits of Yoga

There is a vast amount of health benefits to yoga, almost too many to list.  From physical to mental to spiritual health, yoga touches all of these aspects. Here is a list of the top 5 health benefits of yoga –

Physical Benefits

Flexibility – this is one of the more widely-known benefits of yoga; it is typically one of the first things that comes to mind for most people when they think of yoga.  With yoga, you are pushing your physical limits (in a good way) every time you practice.  Each stretch and every extra second you stay in your or will condition your body for that as the new normal.  You will gain more range of motion that you thought you could. 

Improves balance – With learning poses, and the rigidity that it takes to keep some of those poses, you learn to balance from the inside out. You will learn to use your core muscles in a different way, and will also build definition in your stomach.  Yoga can also create balance in your life mentally, as you learn certain techniques, you will learn to control your body mentally and physically.

Building strength and endurance – Like with a any physical fitness activity, the more you practice, the more strength and endurance you will build up.  Endurance is not only physical but mental, too.  Because yoga helps with concentration, you be able to master endurance and push through feats you didn’t think possible.  Building your endurance in turn with build your strength and stamina through repeated actions.

Supports your joint health – Yoga is the perfect practice to support and prevent joint health.  Yoga is considered low impact because you use only body weight. Your body is used to the weight you are, so there is no added stress of trying to include excess weight in your workout routine.  Added weight can cause unneeded stress on your joints. As we age, our joints can become stiff and can cause us pain in our everyday life, so keeping our joints healthy can make life more comfortable the older we get.  

Mental Benefits of Yoga

Reduces stress – This is a huge part of why so many people want to try yoga.  When you practice yoga, you learn to control many things in your life that before were hard to even imagine controlling.  Once you learn to control things like breathing and your racing mind, you will cut your stress level immensely. Just picture this: you are upset, you decide to take a moment focusing on your breathing, and nothing else.  You take a long, deep breath and slowly exhale. The whole time you focus on your breathing, and slowly with every inhale and exhale, you are focusing on your breath, and everything else slowly starts to fade away.  Stress starts to melt with something as simple as a deep breath. You are turning your focus from your stress to something positive.

Builds Confidence – With any activity, the more you practice, the better you get.  The better you get, the more confident you feel in not only what you are practicing, but in life in general.  With added confidence, you start to be happier in general.Beyond that, yoga focuses on your inner being.  And to learn about you inner being, you learn about yourself and things that can build your confidence.  Once you start to learn who you are, you can become confident in yourself and who you are or who you are becoming.

Increases mindfulness – Yoga is built on mindfulness.  Dictionary.com defines mindfulness as: “A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”

Essentially, mindfulness is being hyper-aware and intuitive, usually of yourself.  Mindfulness will teach you to learn about yourself in-depth and be able to fully concentrate on particular feelings or thought, and get to the root of those.  It is asking yourself what you are feeling, why you are feeling that specifically, what caused that feeling that made you feel that way, etc.  You are connecting to your core and learning things about yourself deep in your soul.

How Much Time After Yoga Can You Eat?

It is best to give yourself at least 15 minutes to wind down after class to eat a snack or meal.  Your body need a little bit of time to get back to its normal levels after the heightened levels that the body exerts when practicing. It really comes down to paying attention to your body, as some of us may feel fin to eat immediately after, and some of us would rather wait for an hour or so to consume a meal or snack.

It is not unsafe for you to eat right after a class or session.  Our body is in repair mode, so a snack or meal right after a class may benefit our body as your muscles are recovering or repairing themselves from their workout. Your body is more receptive to nourishment within the first 2 hours after a class or work out.  This meal that is after your workout will be the meal that replenishes the nutrients and energy that was just burned. 

Benefits of Practicing Yoga on an Empty Stomach

Generally, it takes time for you to digest your meals or snacks, and they added stress of digestion while trying to work out just spells disaster. You have less energy and will not get the most out of your class.  Doing yoga on a full stomach can slow down your digestions; you are diverting your energy elsewhere.

Doing yoga on a full stomach not only slows down your digestion, but it can also actually hinder it and cause you pain.  The poses and stances will bend your body and internal organs, and you can cut of the flow of an intestine, causing digestion issues and possibly even constipation due to flow being cut off. 

With doing yoga on an empty stomach, you are able to burn a higher number of calories.  Since your stomach is already empty, there is less to draw on from your stomach, and you will start to burn excess fat to provide you with the energy that you need to practice. Your fat stores are the next in line after you use what is readily available, and with an empty stomach, you are sure to burn a lot of extra stored fat cells, resulting in more significant weight loss over time if practiced correctly.

Is There a Better Time of Day to Practice Yoga?

A majority of people like to start their day off with yoga, but you can practice yoga whenever it is more convenient for you.  Sometimes our schedules do not allow for us to practice first thing in the morning, so you need to find what works best for you and your schedule so you can get the most out of your session.

Morning is generally the best time as you typically have an empty stomach and are able to fully benefit from all aspects of yoga.  It is best to try and empty the bowels and not eat anything before you start your session or class for the day.  You are putting yourself in the best position for starting your day.  You will start you day refreshed and with a clear mind. 

The second-best time to practice yoga is around sunset.  The calming end to your busy and hectic day.  There is a sense of peace associated with doing yoga while the sun is setting or rising.  It gives a sense of enlightenment and oneness with the universe, there is almost a sense of magic in the air with the beautiful colors and the feeling.  

Some of the More Common Types of Yoga

There is a type of yoga for practically whatever you are looking for – pain tolerance, reducing stress, gaining mindfulness, the list goes on and one.  Here are some of the more popular types of yoga:

  • Goat Yoga – Yes, this is absolutely a thing, and it is becoming more and more popular as of late.  The act of petting and being around goats is calming, so even being around them can reduce stress. Being around the goats will raise your spirits and can help boost your mood.
  • Hatha – this is probably one of the most common ones.  This focuses on strength and force.  You will focus on holding poses and breathing techniques.
  • Bikram – this is a hot yoga class.  You will hold certain poses in a room, typically around 105 degrease and around 35-40% humidity, trying to replicate the climate of India.
  • Vinyasa – this is a form of yoga that mixes working out and peaceful poses. 
  • Restorative yoga- just like the name sounds, this will help you focus on restoring strained nerves, muscles, and joints in your body.  You focus on passive poses that are generally easier to do but will build strength back.

Conclusion

Whether you practice yoga with the rising or setting sun, or in the middle of your busy day, the best thing is getting it in when you can.  The benefits of yoga are numerous, and we can learn to know ourselves and our bodies better over time. 

Just always remember, if you do, it is best to practice on an empty stomach as to not cause yourself physical pain. If you can only find time to do yoga after a meal, try some of those poses mentioned above to help aide in your digestion.  If at all possible, try to do yoga outdoors in the fresh air, it can help to bring you a stronger sense of peace.

Sources Used:

Sita

Mother of three and Yogi of 20+ years and 200 Hour Certified Yoga Teacher. I am also a Certified Thai massage therapist and I have taught Gymnastics for more than 10 years. In the last couple of years, I've been a big promotor of intermittent fasting.

Recent Content