2.6
July 31, 2012

How Much Water Should Yogis Drink?

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.

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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wyatt Jul 29, 2013 6:42pm

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~

cathy Aug 1, 2012 7:49pm

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.

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Heather Morton

Heather (Morton) van Hettema is a Canadian educator and teacher turned mother, writer and frequent traveler. She is better known for her progressive classes and individual attention to the student. After producing Freedom of the Body DVD; one of the first instructional videos on back bends, it has reached students all over the globe. Visit The Yoga Way and connect on facebook.