Much of yoga is about motivation and consistency. Showing up to class regularly is key, but you’ve got to take care of yourself off the mat too. If you tend to feel wrung out after class or you lack the motivation to practice regularly, there’s a good chance you’re not providing your body with the nourishment it needs to excel.
That’s one reason why the yogic diet focuses on nutrient dense fruits and vegetables that boost energy and elevate the mood. Let’s explore how nutrition can influence your motivation to practice yoga and what you need to do to fix it.
How Nutrition Affects Motivation
Yoga is amazing for relieving stress and promoting relaxation, but there’s no question that it’s physically challenging too. When you add your job, family, and other commitments into the mix, it’s no surprise that you might be exhausted when it’s time for yoga class. And when you’re exhausted, it’s next to impossible to get motivated.
Many of us turn to sugary energy drinks and snacks for a quick energy boost, only to find that our energy levels crash midway through class. Empty carbs and sugar are full of glucose, which the body digests and burns up quickly… leading to a quick burst of energy followed by a crash.
If you’re looking for a real energy boost that will keep you motivated to practice, you need to provide your body with the right fuel in the form of good nutrition. You want foods that provide sustained energy without the rush or crash.
Here’s What Your Body Needs for Optimum Performance, Energy, and Motivation
If you’re finding it difficult to stay motivated to practice yoga, optimizing your diet and nutrition could be the answer. There’s no question that poor nutrition affects focus and concentration, as well as moods.
So, how can you fix it? Here’s what you need to focus on.
Prioritize B Vitamins
If you feel a bit low, lethargic, and lack motivation, B-vitamin deficiencies could be a major contributor. B-vitamins are used by the body to produce energy and convert other nutrients into hormones like serotonin.
All B-vitamins are crucial for mood and energy, just in different ways. For example, B12 deficiency can contribute to low moods and poor memory, while low levels of B3 (niacin) have been linked to depression.
Unfortunately, B vitamins are water soluble, which means the body can’t store them. Not only that, but stress, alcohol use, and certain medications can deplete them even further.
Although some B vitamins are found naturally in vegetables, they can be depleted during cooking. And B12 is mainly found in animal sources like meat and eggs, so you’re more likely to be deficient if you’re on a plant-based diet.
The best way to ensure that you’re getting enough B-vitamins every day is to take a vegan-friendly multivitamin. Look for organic gummy vitamins that are easy to digest and come from natural sources. This author has found great success with taking these organic vitamins, specifically, as they are natural, ethically created and meet the easy-to-digest requirement.
Increase Your Magnesium Intake
If you’re feeling a bit tight or tense, or you’re dealing with a lot of headaches that keep you from practicing yoga, it might be time to increase your magnesium intake. Magnesium is crucial for the nervous system and deficiencies can lead to migraines, constipation, muscle cramps, and anxiety.
Magnesium is found in leafy green vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. You can also boost your intake with a daily supplement or by adding Epsom salts to your bath water a few times a week.
Take Care of Your Gut
Gut health has a direct impact on your motivation to practice yoga. For example, the neurotransmitter serotonin, which promotes a good mood, is produced in the gut. Low serotonin levels can have a major impact on motivation. Not only that, but poor digestion can leave you feeling sluggish and bloated, making yoga practice and other activities uncomfortable.
That makes taking care of your gut bacteria a top priority. Not only does this improve digestive health and hormone production, but it also ensures that you’re absorbing nutrients efficiently from your food. A high fiber diet and a daily dose of probiotics are crucial for supporting gut health.
Include plenty of fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in your diet daily. Yogurt and other fermented foods are a great source of probiotics, or you can get them from a daily supplement.
Get Your Daily Dose of Vitamin D
If you have noticed that it’s particularly hard to stay motivated in the fall and winter, it’s time to think about supplementing with vitamin D. Vitamin D is crucial for mood health, energy levels, and the immune system.
And, since Vitamin D is synthesized from the sun, deficiencies are an issue for anyone who doesn’t spend a lot of time outdoors on sunny days. Unfortunately, it’s not found abundantly in many plant-based foods, so a daily supplement is the best solution.
Protein is Essential
Serotonin isn’t the only hormone that affects motivation. Dopamine, adrenaline, and noradrenaline are all neurotransmitters that affect mood, concentration, memory, stress management, and motivation. Low levels of these mood boosting hormones can leave you feeling distracted and lethargic.
The body requires essential amino acids to produce these neurotransmitters, which makes protein intake a top priority for boosting motivation, not to mention a multitude of other body processes.
Good sources of plant-protein include legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. Be sure to incorporate protein into your meals and snacks throughout the day, not just at the evening meal. This will help to keep your brain functioning optimally and your energy and moods stable.
One Final Tip
One last thing to keep in mind… our bodies contain more water than any other substance. Staying properly hydrated is key for energy and motivation. In addition to prioritizing the nutrients mentioned above, be sure to drink at least six to eight glasses of water a day to ensure that you’re properly hydrated.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
NICOLE MCCRAY Nicole is an experienced content writer with a passion for all aspects of wellness. She worked a side gig at a yoga studio for years before becoming a mom, and absolutely fell in love with holistic and alternative therapies during her first pregnancy. She’s been proclaimed the “health nut” amongst family and friends, and when she’s not writing, Nicole can be found studying to become a health coach and reading up on all aspects of healthy living!