Staying hydrated is as important on the mat as it is off the mat. The common rule of thumb is that the average person should drink eight glasses of water each day; that’s 64 ounces of water per 24-hour period. Or, that you should drink half your body weight in fluid ounces each day. The math looks like this: If you weigh 130 pounds, you need to drink 65 ounces of water daily. If you practice yoga, especially Bikram yoga or heated vinyasa, you’ll want to double that amount. This is because you lose water when you sweat, especially in a hot, humid environment like a yoga studio heated to 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
Staying hydrated helps our muscles recover more quickly post-workout. It also helps flush out the toxins that we eliminate during yoga class through twisting, sweating and breathing deeply. The following tips are ways to help you stay hydrated before, during and after your yoga practice.
Pre-Hydrating Before Yoga Class
Pre-hydrating before your yoga class will go a long way in eliminating dehydration and keep you energized during class. There are a couple of ways to do this, like eating foods that have a naturally high water content. Twenty percent of the water we consume daily comes from fruits and veggies. Watermelon, strawberries, grapefruit and cantaloupe are are excellent sources of edible hydration, as well as cucumber, zucchini, celery, radishes, broccoli and spinach . They are also loaded with vitamins and minerals, so you can't go wrong! Yogurt is also a great source of hydration, as are soups and popsicles. (Read more in Why a Plant-Based Diet Makes Better Yogis.)
Drink milk. In a recent study, fat free milk and whole milk were shown to have a significantly higher hydration index than water. This means that the hydrating effects you get from drinking a glass of whole milk will keep you hydrated longer than drinking a glass of water will. Milk has a higher calorie count, though, so don’t replace your water intake entirely with milk!
Hydrate early enough before class so that you don’t need a bathroom break during your session, and do so by sipping eight ounces of room-temperature water before class. Avoid downing an entire water bottle right before class. This will lead to having a belly full of water sloshing around during your vinyasa practice and make twisting asanas particularly uncomfortable.
Hydrating During Yoga Class
If you find yourself thirsty during yoga, it’s a sign that you came to class dehydrated. Always listen to your body first and foremost. If you need to drink water, do so mindfully. Remember that breaking for a drink during class will take you out of the present moment and out of your flow. "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," so avoid breaking your focus by pre-hydrating before class. (Learn How to Be More Mindful.)
Re-hydrating After Yoga Class
Re-hydrating after class is as important as pre-hydrating before. To quench your post-workout thirst, try making some of these refreshing natural electrolyte drinks:
Maintain Healthy pH Levels
Gather apple cider vinegar, honey and sea salt. Mix one ounce of Bragg’s apple cider vinegar, a pinch of sea salt and two tablespoons of honey in a 12-ounce glass of water. Apple cider vinegar is alkalizing and helps your body maintain healthy pH levels. Drink this regularly for its balancing effects.
Detoxify With Lemon Juice
Have the following ingredients ready, lemon juice, sea salt and maple syrup. Mix the juice of half a lemon with a pinch of sea salt and two tablespoons of maple syrup in a 12-ounce glass of water. Lemon juice is used in ayurveda to detoxify pitta dosha and soothe vata dosha. (Learn more in How to East for Your Dosha Type.)
Cucumber for Anti-Inflammation and Orange Juice for Hydration
Add sliced cucumber to your water. Cucumber is high in vitamin C, is anti-inflammatory and the slices look pretty in your glass! For extra hydration, drink a glass of fresh orange juice with a teaspoon of sea salt mixed in. Like milk, orange juice has a higher hydration index than water, and the sea salt works to replenish your body’s lost electrolytes.
Have a cup of golden milk. This special milk is flavored with turmeric and other ayurvedic spices to help speed muscular recovery and reduce inflammation. (Learn mow to make Golden Milk: A Yogi's Drink.)
Hydration Throughout Your Day
Remember, stay hydrated throughout your day. You can encourage yourself to drink plenty of water by having bottled water on your desk at work or setting a pitcher of water on your dining room table at home. Avoiding diuretics, like caffeine and alcohol, will also help you maintain a stable level of hydration. You may be dehydrated if you are feeling fatigued, have a dry mouth, headache, feel dizzy or confused or have darker urine.
Thirst is a sign of dehydration, so be sure to monitor your daily intake and drink up!