How Much Water Should Yogis Drink?

Via on Jul 31, 2012
Inspecting the contents and getting started….

Today’s yoga lesson: Drink four litres of water per day, everyday!*

When my teacher handed me this advice and explained the importance of it, I was probably not aware of just how much water this is and/or how to begin drinking so much on a daily basis.

When I confessed to falling short during the first week he told me I didn’t respect him and how can I expect to change if I do not listen to my teacher? In India, you do not contradict your teacher. I said something clever on how I was starting slow. I also parroted my husband who said, “That’s a lot of water!” with the undertone of, “Have mercy on weak Westerners!”

* We hear a lot about how two liters of water is good, but can drinking too much be “bad?”

I never thought of this, but it’s important because research proves too much water can actually be dangerous (called water intoxication). If, however, your system can handle it and you’re not heading to the toilet every hour then maybe it’s right for you. One would think a more common issue is not drinking enough! I know I’ve been guilty of it and not been surprised to learn that many people barely drink a glass of water the whole day.

The Daily Dose of H20

My fellow practitioners of Mysore, however, were not entirely convinced. Living in India with her family one yogini felt too much water would make her overly yin and humid inside. Her husband who is a former psychologist and travelling yoga teacher believed it all came down to factors of climate, culture, diet and your general living habits. A vegetarian might not need to take 4 litres since fruits and vegetables will produce more water in your body.

“Living as well in a cold climate could make you feel cold inside” he explained.

My Experiment with Water

On the next day, I gave it a better try and got beyond the standard two liter fix. I began drinking two litres in the morning, one liter in the afternoon and another by the early evening. My first reaction was as if the water was running thorough me like a faucet.

taken in Eger, Hungary

I landed at a hotel to use the restroom and later stopped at the side of the road to squat when the pressure was squeezing my bladder. I also experienced a lack of hunger and feeling bloated.

Upon reporting these antics to my teacher he laughed and said, “You need to control your mind.”

As the weeks progressed, I discovered drinking four liters was not excessive—it depends on how you space it out. There is, however, something to be said about forcing yourself to drink instead of doing it when you’re naturally thirsty. With a prior habit of not drinking much it might be necessary to force or remind yourself gently to do so.

Relying on what your head told you to do is not going to work since your head also forgot to tell you to drink.

Tips for drinking more water—not an experiment to be necessarily taken lightly

~ Carry a refillable water bottle with you
~ Drink in stages rather than all at once
~ Drink a half hour before your meal
~ Drink the largest amounts before the late afternoon

Benefits of water drinking

~ We’re made up to 90 percent water
~ Women have less water than men
~ Flushes the system and eliminates waste
~ Fills your stomach and can lessen overeating
~ Great for your skin and pores

* Facts on drinking too much

~ When you drink only water you need to remember to replace your electrolytes too
~ Remember our cells are not like plant cells otherwise we’d all be a bush
~ Follow what works with your body, diet and living conditions
~ Some professionals say too much can drown your system

Interesting note: BKS Iyengar lived off water for years but he also said he was not an expert in dietary habits and would not necessarily advise the same to others.

Editor: Lynn Hasselberger

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About Heather Morton

Before yoga, Heather's life aspirations were very different than the path she ultimately took. After starting what looked like a promising modelling career, Heather Morton left Canada to live and work in South Korea. This was a pivotal shift in her life's map where she began teaching not only English but yoga. And by the way, she had no idea what she was doing! Today, she is a dedicated teacher and student of yoga having made 17 trips to India in 17 years to study Yoga under her teachers. Her passion for learning includes staying in ashrams and returning to university to obtain a Masters of Education. Combining her love for yoga and children she conducted a 2-year ethnographic thesis on Yoga for children in the Indian educational system. Meanwhile back in Toronto, Canada, she founded and directed her own yoga school for 15 years. The Yoga Way (TYW) was a niche school in that it was the only one not to be a 'drop-in' centre. Heather also produced podcasts, manuals, videos, a teacher training text and DVDS and CDS. Freedom of the Body DVD is one of the first instructional practice videos on back bending yoga. Heather has been featured in The Globe & Mail, Toronto Life magazine and other media sources like YogaLife, HelloYoga and MindBodyGreen. More recently, Heather jumped over the pond and into family life. She resides in Germany near the Swiss border where she is a mum of a beautiful boy. Find her on facebook.


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11 Responses to “How Much Water Should Yogis Drink?”

  1. Mamaste says:

    Just intro'd on FB to: Food, Health & Wellness & Yoga.

  2. cathy says:

    I am very disappointed in this article. I read it on mindbodygreen in a different fashion. I took time as did others to describe the name of the condition fo rdrinking too much water which includes feeling faint, body swelling, impaired speech concentration and ability to think clearly. There is a lot of information about this. People have died from drinking too much water. It is possible to find information about the woman who died on a radio contest. To be more accurate this author should hav eincluded all the effort and accurate information which we looked up and cited for her from our comments. Not that little lame "facts on drinking too much:.

    • Heather Morton Heather says:

      Hi Cathy and thanks for commenting….

      Yes, your notes were appreciated and looked into. That is why they appeared in this article as such…re: Facts.

      Facts are serious and not meant to be taken issue with as being anything less.

      • cathy says:

        well, rather than facts, they are actually warnings. Please thik about the difference.

        • Heather Morton Heather says:

          Okay, Cathy! But do bear in mind we do not need to scare people..and write heavy handed pieces that make people afraid of trying something 'new'. People cross the street and are injured or killed….(an extreme example)….but nevertheless we cannot escape life.

          For certain, everyone can be more informed.

          Upon review, a more appropriate title would have been WARNINGS.

          Still, as discussed, a more common concern is drinking too little!!!! In the end, all we can do is share some info and hope folks take it all in the right way.


  3. cathy says:

    I am very disappointed in ths article. It appeared in another form in mindbodygreen and there several of us took time to write about serious affects of drinking water, including death. I would have appreciated that the author looked into this rather than ignore our citations and then write her simple and less concerning comments about bad effects of water.

  4. […] to put it quite simply, we are the planets and the planets are us. We are 70 percent water and since water goes around in a cycle, we are the ocean and the ocean is us. We share the sadness […]

  5. wyatt says:

    just saw this. we always discuss this in our shala. My thought: water is very good. too much water 'may' be 'bad'. bottled/plastic water is always lame 😉 shanti~

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