Hot Yoga on an Empty Stomach

I have been reading about the health benefits of exercising on an empty stomach and decided to try it out. The new scientific consensus seems to be that one burns fewer calories on an empty stomach, but those calories are higher percentage of fat. While eating a balanced breakfast before working out results in a higher calorie burn, but those calories are mostly from the breakfast itself, rather than fat stores.

I used to flip out if I didn’t get a bagel once a week…and my poached eggs. Since pregnancy, I don’t like bagels and eggs make me sick all day.  Without those two items, I am no longer a fan of breakfast, really. I have spent years forcing myself to eat OJ and breakfast cereal  “because breakfast is healthy,” and it gets me is so hungry by 11:30. So this research supports my preferences and it’s the classic self-confirmation bias at work.

I had previously attempted fasting exercise a few weeks ago, in a Hot Yoga class. I had never attended that particular class before–it was so crowded, it must have been 115 degrees. I was about 2 inches from butts in my face in every direction at one point. As a result of the overcrowding, there is no word for how hot it was in that room. It was also an instructor whom I had never before met, so it was a new style of yoga; we spent most of the time coming up from the floor with no “flow”–very challenging simply because of the novelty. It did not go well. I was in child’s pose for 25 minutes. I was so embarrassed! I wanted to steal the Jolly Rancher off my neighbor’s yoga mat. I really, really wanted to leave but I was so nauseated I really thought that I might not be able to make it out of the room without puking or fainting.

So I decided to try it again today…well it wasn’t a conscious decision. I usually abstain from food for at least an hour before class, but I do usually have a banana before yoga. However, the grocery store didn’t have any bananas yesterday–how is that possible? The grocery trucks couldn’t make deliveries because the streets in our neighborhood were shut down for “Pride Fest” this weekend. So no banana for me!

Just as class begins I realize all that is in mystomach is coffee. At least it was my regular class and so I was at least mentally prepared for the style of the practice. And I’m telling myself that the class isn’t super hot, but then I notice it is significantly hotter than normal today! Probably because the only open spot in the part of the room I prefer was right in front of the heater.  And I forgot my water. And so my intention for today was to survive.

The instructor always asks if there are any requests and usually there is no response. Today: “Inversions” and “Abs” come from my cohorts. Seriously?!? So an hour of plank and chair pose! LOL..that is what the instructor usually threatens if we don’t offer up any suggestions but today my nightmare was real.

I was just relieved that I didn’t crap out halfway through. I tried a new inversion. I had no intention of actually doing it, per se, but the instructor saw my feeble attempts and came to “spot” me. Which means that she held my legs while I made a super-weird, scared noise. Now I know why it’s called Dolphin, I guess. The stransition to peacock was very challenging and rewarding, and here is a nice explaination of how to try it. I am feeling a plateau in my practice so the new inversion was a great chance to try and break through the next wall and maybe work towards scorpion pose in the future.

All things considered, it was a great pratice and I was sweating much more than usual. I’m not sure if that was because it was actually hotter than normal or if I was just perceiving it that way because of the added stress of the fasting. At one point I really got lightheaded and wondered if I was going to need to take a child’s pose, but that was at the last moment before corpse pose, after all the inversions. Best corpse pose ever today.  The empty stomach did change the experience of the class in a good way, but I was very conscious of the fasting aspect during my practice. I wonder if after a couple more times it might just be less notable.

I think I will make no-breakfast my status quo for basic and heated yoga casses, but not Hot Yoga. I will definitely stick to my banana or oatmeal before that class because if the intensity and the heat.

The nausea I experienced in my class a few weeks ago was akin to torture, so I picked up a cucumber-spinach juice right after class and added double ginger to calm my stomach, just in case I was going to get nauseaus. The juice served to make me very hungry, while normally that would be my lunch. I also noticed I was especially thirsty today. Sometimes it is easy to confuse thirst and hunger, so it I think the fasting exercise helped me to be more mindful as I went about my day.

I made healthy choices all day (cauliflower tacos above) so I think it was a very positive experience.

Cauliflower Tacos Reicpe (serves 4)

Toss 2 heads Caluflower in 2 Tbspn olive oil and 1 Tbspn chili powder for 25 minutes; add 5 cloves chopped garlic roast 15 minutes more

Heat 1 Tbspn olive oil on mediu heat and crumble 1 brick pressed tofu for 15 minutes, letting it brown before tossing. Add 1/4 cup salsa or tomatoes and heat for 5 minutes

Assemble Tacos with preferred items: peppers, lettuce, cilantro, tofu, rice, beans, refried beans, carrots, tomatillos, tomatoes, jalepenos, salsa, etc—especially whatever is about to go bad, like the avocado in the picture above

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