Yoga is an amazing exercise to build strength and endurance and calm and clear the mind. It is normally a gentle exercise, but if you aren’t intentional about the time and type of practice, don’t be surprised if you have a bit of a stomach ache.
If your stomach hurts after yoga, the likely cause is your diet—not eating far enough in advance before class, food high in fiber, and large quantities of food can all lead to discomfort after class. If the diet is not the culprit, rigorous practicing without enough warmup can also cause pain.
This article will discuss the specifics of diet and yoga to be sure you end your class in a state of calm and not discomfort and get some tips on the best times and food to eat before class. It will also explore a little bit more about what is normal muscle pain after yoga and comparing it to something that might be worth more attention. Hopefully, by the end of the article, you will understand what’s causing your pain and be able to relieve it in the future.
Why Your Stomach Hurts After Yoga
Eating Too Close to Practice Time
Perhaps the most common cause of stomach pain after yoga is eating before yoga practice and not giving your stomach enough time to settle. The twisting and bending nature of many yoga poses can put a lot of pressure on your abdomen, compressing your digestive system. Without giving your body time to settle and process food, it will move through your digestive too quickly at an unnatural pace. This can lead to feelings of indigestion, cramping, and pain.
It is recommended you allow your body time to digest a meal before a yoga class fully. If you eat a full meal, the recommendation is to wait for 2 to 3 hours before your practice. Even if you have just a small snack, you will want to give your body some time to process that food. It is recommended for 45 to 60 minutes.
Not only does this apply to food, but it applies to drinks as well. You must be well-hydrated before yoga class. Dehydration can definitely be a source of stomach aches. But having too many fluids in your system during yoga can again lead to a lot of discomforts. In the hour leading up to your class, just sipping water will lead to the most comfort and best success in your practice.
Difficult to Digest Foods
Not only does the timing of your meal matter, but what food you’re eating can be equally as important to pay attention to if you are trying to relieve any stomach pain you’ve had while doing yoga. Listed below are some food that may lead to greater discomfort than others.
- Dairy products: Proteins and sugars in dairy products can be difficult to digest and may be too heavy of an option to eat before a yoga class.
- High-fat food: Although eating some food with healthy fats is not a bad idea, be mindful not to eat food or a meal too high in fat, like fried food or food with a lot of oil, before a yoga class as it can slow digestion.
- High fiber food: Fiber is an important part of a balanced diet, but avoid overeating it before yoga. It can be difficult on the digestive system and lead to gas and bloating, especially with the pressure that may result from yoga. High fiber food includes things like whole grains and cruciferous vegetables.
- Spicy food: Spicy food can lead to indigestion and stomach upset. Try to stick to a bland meal before your practice.
Before practice, focus on eating simple carbs, energizing snacks, and things that are easily digested. Being intentional about your food choices will leave you feeling your best after class. Some of these things include fruit with nut butter, toasts with avocado, or light fruit smoothies. Fruits like watermelon and oranges are both nutritious and hydrating. Protein bars and beef sticks are also great options to help you sustain energy through your day and practice.
Other Diet Considerations
When it comes to hydration, it is important to be hydrated and not load up on liquids right before class. But when it comes to the type of liquids, drinking water is the best option. Steer away from sports drinks or any drinks with extra sugars. Also, any caffeinated drinks can have adverse effects on your practice and are dehydrating. Still water or water with fruit slices will be your best options to ward off any achiness after class.
The quantity of food also matters. Some of this will, of course, be dependent on your schedule. But try to snack your way up to your class instead of eating a large meal. Then eat a larger, healing meal to refuel after class.
If you must eat a large meal before class, remember to give yourself at least two hours and preferably three before practicing yoga. As mentioned prior, some poses can put a lot of pressure on the digestive tract, which can be painful if happening on a full stomach.
With all of this being said, everybody is different. It may take some trial and error to find exactly what and how much you need to be eating before your practice to keep stomach aches at bay effectively. Remember, being underfed can lead to stomach aches and discomfort as well, and your body must have fuel for your practice. Experiment with what works best for your body, and if practicing with an instructor, don’t hesitate to ask him/her for insight.
Other Aches Related to Yoga
If you do not feel that your pain is related to your diet, there is a chance it can be related to your yoga practice itself. Although yoga is considered a lower-impact exercise, it still requires great strength and endurance and builds these things. You may be surprised if you experience some soreness and achiness but do not be alarmed; this is a healthy thing, typically signaling muscle growth.
Yoga has a way of stretching and exercising muscles that aren’t much used in daily life activities. Because of this, the muscles can become easily fatigued and sore. This is especially true for some abdominal muscles that yoga can target.
The intensity and frequency of your practice will definitely affect how your body feels afterward. Be sure to respect your body and give it time to recover between classes. Also, be mindful of your body’s sensations during your practice and refrain from putting too much pressure on yourself to perform certain poses if they feel painful.
Focusing on hydrating and nourishing food will help ease and prevent this sort of pain. Limiting caffeine and getting ample rest are great remedies if the aching persists and seems like something more than just a run the mil ache associated with exercise. See a doctor to assess if you have any injuries.
If you are experiencing stomach aches after practicing yoga, focus on your eating food and time. Also, know that muscle aches are normal and a sign of muscles growing. If the aching and soreness persist after being intentional with your diet, be sure to seek medical attention. But typically, stomach aches after yoga are easily remedied, so you can be on your way to enjoying all of the wonderful benefits yoga has to offer.