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The 7 Hydration Tips by YogaHabits

27 Sep 2015
by Aimée Kuntz

Are you sure you're hydrated adequately? Does it often feel like your bikram yoga or hot yoga class feels too tough without drinking water in between (postures) or that you feel uncomfortable in class? And what is the relationship between (de)hydration, your water bottle in your yoga class, feeling uncomfortable and Habits©?

In this blog I will give 7 tips to better hydrate your body, including a recipe for a home-made electrolyte drink. And I will share my story about how l learned to feel better not only after but also during my yoga practice and how my water bottle fits into this story. Hopefully, my story will help you as well!

Balance of water and electrolytes

How much water you need each day depends on your daily activities, how much you sweat and your diet. As you may know, the color of your urine is usually a good indication; the darker your urine's color, the less you are hydrated.

In addition to drinking enough water, the balance with the amount of electrolytes (minerals such as potassium, magnesium, sodium and calcium) in your blood is also important. Electrolytes are minerals that affect various processes in your body, including maintaining the balance of body fluids, contracting your muscles (and thereby also affecting the heart muscle and so your heart rhythm) and the brain function.

To get a better idea of what kinds of minerals you need personally, check my blog “Food (cravings) and using yoga to listen to your body”. If in doubt it is always advisable to let a natural health physician or doctor test your electrolyte balance.


Hydration Tips

Here are some Habits© that helped me to stay hydrated when I was practicing hot yoga:

  • By putting a carafe of water or a teapot herbal tea next to me when I'm at work; it helps to drink more and more frequently.
  • For on the go, take a bottle of water with you.
  • Coconut water (from organic young coconuts and not from concentrate) has an electrolyte balance similar to that of blood, which makes it easy to absorb.
  • Make your own homemade electrolyte mix from 750 ml to 1 liter water, fresh juice from a half to one lemon, a pinch of Himalaya salt or Celtic sea salt (about half a teaspoon) and optionally a bit of raw organic honey (up to half a tablespoon). Lemon juice contains several vitamins and (electrolyte) minerals. The advantage of Himalaya salt or Celtic sea salt is among others that it contains a variety of trace minerals. Moreover, it is not obtained from a highly industrial process such as table salt.
  • Fruits for breakfast. For example bananas (that are rich in potassium) or other fruits.
  • If you drink coffee, take an additional glass of water (or herbal tea) on the side.
  • In Ayurveda, fruit is preferably not combined with other foods during one meal. Others advise to first drink a cup of hot water with a teaspoon of organic extra virgin coconut oil and a teaspoon of raw organic honey before your smoothie to better absorb the nutrients. Feel for yourself what works best for your digestive system.    


Habits: 'Need' versus 'Want'

Maybe you already noticed that all the above mentioned hydration Habits© take place outside the yoga class. However, we have Habits everywhere, also in the yoga class. Some help, some not (always). 

When I just started practicing bikram yoga, I had the habit of drinking water during class. Not much (up to ½ liter), but I regularly took a sip of water during class. And at that point it seemed to me that it was a healthy habit since we sweat a lot during a bikram yoga class. After a month or two in my bikram yoga practice, a yoga teacher compared my water bottle with a teddy bear; it looks quite comfortable, but (if you are already adequately hydrated) it is actually not doing much for you during your yoga class. My first reply was that I was not ready yet to practice bikram yoga without drinking water in between. 

However, he planted a seed in my head that got the benefit of the doubt soon after. Well hydrated, I took up the challenge. As a backup option, I still took my water bottle with me for the next two yoga classes. Now being more aware, I noticed that I was actually not thirsty at all. Also I noticed that I had the tendency to focus my attention on my water bottle. Even while practicing yoga postures, I was already thinking about when it would be the best time to take the next sip of water. So my focus sneaked away from my yoga practice to my water bottle.

To be clear, I explicitly do not say that you should never drink during your yoga class. There are actually medical conditions (like an adrenaline fatigue) whereby I would even suggest to drink water during your hot yoga class. Nowadays I would definitely drink some water if I were to take a hot yoga class.

However, I advise you to become aware of the reason for drinking water during class. Is it to hydrate yourself or is it a habit? If it is to hydrate, drink some water for sure! However, since water is absorbed more difficult into your body during yoga (and you become nauseous quicker because of the compression in the yoga postures), you are actually already too late. Before your next class, try to drink more water in advance as a preparation, so you already hydrated perfectly before even starting the class (and of course also drink a lot of water etc. after your hot yoga class again).

Other than a ‘need’ for hydration, is a ‘want’ for water, which often is a habit. If it is 'only' a habit, observe it and make it light; laugh about it, compare it with a teddy bear or find your own way to weaken the habit in a positive way. Already by observing whether you actually need (instead of want) water, you learn (even if you drink water) to feel your body better, which is improving your mind body connection in and outside of your yoga class. 

Often it is easier to unlearn a habit if you replace it by another (more supporting) habit. With a 'want' for water it often seems fine to take a sip of water. However, there are many more effective ways to feel better during your yoga practice (see my tips below). Once you feel better, the ‘want’ for water maybe even disappears by itself. J


Feel better (and more comfortable) during your yoga practice

Not drinking water during yoga (and coming well hydrated to class) has personally given me much more focus in my yoga practice. When we drink water in class that is coming from a want, it is often an attempt (unconsciously) to make yourself feel more at ease. Though lying on a belly full of water or giving an appropriate breathe technique away for another sip of water could have exactly the opposite effect. To the contrary, you will feel better if you calm your nervous system. Here are some recommendations that could help you to feel more at ease during your yoga practice (and having more fun while doing so).

  • Feel that you are breathing in and out through your nose. Besides that this calms your nervous system, you also prevent that your mouth gets dry what happens when you breathe through your mouth. And a dry mouth automatically increases the ‘want’ for water.  If you still feel the need/want to take a sip of water, first take a deep breathe through your nose. Perhaps, the ‘want’ already declines as a result. In any case, the calming effect of breathing effectively helps to learn to feel whether it is a ‘want’ or 'need' by improving your mind body connection. A side benefit is that you then used this opportunity to improve your breathing habits at the same time.
  • Focus your gaze on one point. The more you focus on one point, the fewer impulses you give to your nervous system. When standing between yoga postures, focus on one point with your chin away from your chest (parallel to the floor). This improves your posture with your vertebras neatly stacked up each other, which makes it easier to breathe than with your chin to your chest. At the same time, you don’t see your water bottle anymore.
  • Stand still between postures. Move as little as possible between postures (independent from if you are standing or lying in Savasana (Dead Body Pose). This is again to limit the amount of stimuli that you give to your nervous system. Your body will then have the opportunity to use his/her own intelligence to be able to relax more (and to process the benefits of the active postures).
  • A smile creates miracles. By keeping a smile on your face, it is easier to find relaxation in yoga poses, even though you use a lot of muscles strength in the rest of your body at the same time. For me, it is also a great tool to prevent becoming frustrated by the ‘end result’ in yoga postures (and I have never found comfort in frustration). When I have a smile on my face, I feel more connection with what is going on in my body, regardless of the visible end result in the postures. And who will pay attention to a water bottle when you are busy with paying attention to all those small little details that happen simultaneously in your body?




Aimée Kuntz

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