Yogi diet: Eating raw means you can eat after 6 p.m.

Lots of things have changed in the Countdown household since we both took up Ashtanga.

Via organic-health.us

There are the obvious ones: We get up way earlier and go to bed way sooner. Our diet — not entirely because of the practice, but certainly helped along — has gone raw and hybrid-wheat-free. We’re planning the Yatra to India.

There are the not-so obvious ones: Practicing the yama and niyamas; studying Sanskrit and the Yoga Sutras; investigating Darshan and Bhatki.

One thing has not changed though: When we eat dinner.

It seems that the early dinner — to make way for the following morning’s practice — is always among the top things Ashtangis talk about when listing off the changes the practice has caused.

“You’ll want to eat no later than about 5 p.m.,” I have read. “Dinners out with friends are a thing of the past.”

Well, not for us.

I chalk the fact that we still have dinner at 8 p.m., even close to 9 p.m., and then are on the mat by 6:15 a.m. the next morning to the raw diet. The food just isn’t that hard to digest. Eating raw, it is difficult to get too full, to feel that stuffed feeling one gets.

And even if you do eat a bunch, your body — once it has adjusted to all the raw food — burns right through what you eat. It’s very quick and efficient energy.

Now, I know that a raw diet isn’t sattvic and goes against Ayurvedic principles. But I also know that Ayurveda didn’t have to deal with genetically modified foods, processed foods or hybridized wheat. It is a whole different garden these days.

What I can tell you is this: By 6 a.m. the next morning, just nine hours or so later, our raw dinners are gone. We often hit the mat just as we start to feel hungry, in fact.

For any number of reasons, beginning but not ending with work, it would be impossible to push our dinner time much before 7 p.m. It isn’t a problem.

Food for thought for anyone?

Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

16 thoughts on “Yogi diet: Eating raw means you can eat after 6 p.m.”

  1. Hi! I am a vinyasa yoga teacher, and was wondering about the reasons for the early dinner if you are an astanga practitioner. Having lived half my life in Argentina, I am used to late dinners (about 9 PM), and that has never hindered my morning practice. Can you tell me more about the reasons for the 5 PM time limit? It’s the first time I hear about it. [I add that I have been vegetarian my entire life, and vegan since October 2011; maybe this has been behind a really fast digestion?]

    1. Hi… I’ll try to answer, although as our post notes, we don’t necessarily follow this un-written rule.

      I think it comes to the fact that, as I write this, it’s 5:10 a.m. and I’m getting ready to go practice. (Well, I’m waking up, really.) So for many Ashtanga practitioners, everything is skewed. What might be an 8 p.m. dinner and eventual 7 a.m. wake-up the next morning for a lot of people becomes 6 p.m. and 5 a.m.

      But it’s also all the heavy twists in the practice. A very empty stomach is incredibly helpful! I think that’s what it really comes down to, physically speaking.

      It also may just be part of the austere lifestyle that seems to go along with Ashtanga for a lot of people.

      I’d also guess that for those of us who have teachers who practice before they come teach (i.e. at 3 a.m. or so), that their early dinners sort of rub off.

      Hope that helps. There’s nothing set in stone on this — it just seems to be something that happens and people talk about a lot. Since we can’t eat that early, the raw diet seems to have helped us deal with it.


      1. Thank you for your prompt response! I find very interesting the different lifestyle choices that come along with our yoga practices… when you start on this path you aren’t typically aware of all the changes that will take place organically later on. 🙂

  2. I fully agree with the “raw thang” I try to eat at least between 5:30-7:30 being the latest, my dinner is usually 90% raw and very light. I have no real issues on my mat regarding my dinner thus far, BUT if the next day is the moonday/rest/ladies holiday, I munch a heavier diet sensibly, avoiding wheat and other poisons. I love to have my gluten free flax bagel on Sundays(that’s my rest day) with a hearty tofu scramble, to me that’s a treat:) My, my how things have changed:) Thanks for the great posts:) I really enjoy them:)

    1. I don’t want to get all hyper around the gluten thing — but is the bagel still made of wheat of some sort, but just gluten-free? It may be the hybrid wheat that’s a problem… (I do see mention of flax, so this might not be the issue.)

      And thanks for the nice comment. 🙂


  3. From my understanding, one of the reasons to eat a early dinner falls more in line with actually getting adequate rest.

    If you think about, you eat at nine and go to bed by ten. What’s your body doing? Well, it’s digesting a bunch of food, raw or otherwise doesn’t matter, while your trying to go to sleep. Now clearly, the body is much better at multi-tasking internally than we are externally, but it seems that the same logic would apply. Focusing completely on one thing is far more efficient and effective, (and dare I say, yogic?).

    Imagine you were trying to sleep and your next door neighbor was constantly banging on your walls asking you to take answer his questions. It would be kind of hard to fall asleep, let alone rest. Likewise, why pound on the walls of the stomach, small intestine, liver, gall bladder and spleen, when they are trying to gear up for the next day’s activities? If organs could form a union, I imagine they would ask for an eight hour work day just like the rest of us.

    In other words, if sleep is the time when we are trying to give our bodies a break and replenish, why would we want to burden them with the task of digestion?

    1. Good points — I think part of my response would be that by the time we’re settling down to sleep, we’ve probably digested a lot of what we’ve eaten. At this point, it’s a quick and easy process, unlike with cooked food. That’s a whole different story.


      1. You’ll have to forgive my ignorance on this one. But isn’t the whole point of cooking food that it makes it more digestable? Assuming that we are not talking about things like pizza and overly processed foods. But, isn’t a cooked stalk of broccoli already some what broken down over say a raw one? Again, I’m really curious because I just don’t know much about the “rawvolution.”

      2. I should let Bobbie — the better expert — answer this, but I think she’s away from the computer. So here goes:

        * Yes, cooked food — your broccoli, for instance — is broken down a bit, and thus more easily digested. Until you stop eating cooked food and build up the various digestive stuff (enzymes, etc?) that then go to work very efficiently. The problem with cooking food is that the “artificial” breaking down (if you will) of cooking also gets rid of a bunch of nutrients. (Compare the color of the cooked vs. raw broccoli. That bright green color? That’s good for you.) So you get more bang for your buck, so to speak.

        * I think the real key is that a raw diet eliminates processed food. I think (and this is largely my hare-brained thinking, although with some legitimate back up) that it is the processed food we now eat that’s really the culprit for a number of diet-related problems. And I don’t just mean “overly processed.” I mean almost everything you’d get at even your highest-end health store. This includes the vegan protein powder lots of people put in smoothies, for instance. Dried pasta. Cereal. Pretty much anything packaged. There’s an old joke about a Twinkie surviving a nuclear war, but it would probably have lots of company.

        It does take a bit of getting used to to eat mostly/all raw. I think we started with juice fasts to sort of prime our systems. Now, we digest and make use of the food (energy) really quickly and effectively.


  4. I love my ashtanga practice and I am not vegetarian, vegan, raw vegan. I live in Czech republic. We have very hot summers and very cold winters. My diet adjust to the cycles. With ashtanga practice, we need proper nutrition. I feel amazing in my practice, I listen to my body what it needs. My practice is like a meditation for me, I have no problem with twists or so. I love feeling happy, healthy, full of energy. Interesting article to read: http://www.ppssuccess.com/FoodforThought/ArticlesbyPaul/ArticlesbyPaulChekDetailPage/tabid/496/smid/2144/ArticleID/96/reftab/104/Default.aspx

    1. You’re definitely right about the nutrition. And one of the effects of the Ashtanga is we learn how to listen better, right?

      When we’re feeling like we need something more substantial, for instance, we do. But we usually try to time it smartly around practice.


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