Editor’s note: This is a guest blog post by Lucas Rockwood of YOGABODY Naturals. In this post, Lucas sheds some light on the importance of proper hydration before, during, and after class.
Yoga students often become obsessed with hydration to the point where they’re never without a water bottle. It just becomes part of you. Your wallet, your keys, your ID, and a bottle of water. It’s really that important.
And yet as a teacher, I’m constantly getting questions about how to avoid dehydration. Despite the awareness, many students still find themselves with constipation, headaches, and dark circles around their eyes simply because they’re dehydrated.
Depending on the temperature of the room and the style of yoga you’re practicing, it’s possible to lose an enormous amount of water during a 90-minute practice. Hot Yoga students need to be most concerned; but on warm days, just about any Ashtanga-Vinyasa or Power Yoga class quickly turns into a sweat-fest too, so the question that arises is: “How do you properly rehydrate?”
STEP 1: Make sure you are hydrated BEFORE class. This doesn’t mean that you should drink two liters of water just before practice, but it does mean making sure that throughout your day, you maintain a healthy intake of water (and no, coffee doesn’t count).
STEP 2: During class, follow your teacher’s instructions. If it’s a class where water is accepted (like Bikram Yoga, for example), then you’ll absolutely want to bring water. If it’s a class where water is optional, be your own judge. And lastly, if it’s a class where water is not permitted, just make sure that you feel that it’s a healthy practice for you and talk one-on-one with your teacher if you have any doubts.
STEP 3: Drink water and only water. For hydration, you’ll want to reduce or eliminate all the caffeinated and flavored beverages from your diet including coffee, dark teas, and sodas. Non-caffeinated, herbal teas are fine, but for the most part, you want to drink just plain old water.
But what kind of water? Dozens of athletic studies have shown that it’s not just about quantity, it’s also about quality when it comes to water. What you’re looking for are electrolytes, positively and negatively charged ions from minerals that keep your body’s electrical system working properly.
In a natural state, we’d drink our water from streams, wells, and rivers. This water is high in minerals, including the important electrolytes sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and chloride. But since most of our water today has been treated, heavily filtered, and bottled, it’s often referred to as “dead” water because it’s mineral-deficient.
RE-MINERALIZE YOUR BODY & YOUR WATER
Natural mineral water is very hard to come by, and not practical for most people (unless you live near mineral springs); so the best idea for most students is to proactively re-mineralize their body and their water on an on-going basis.
There are a number of ways to boost your mineral intake, but the easiest are (a) to start eating as many dark green, mineral-dense veggies as possible, and (b) to consider adding a pinch of sea salt or seaweed (such as dulse) to your water bottles throughout the day.
Unbleached, chunky sea salt is a great source for electrolytes and can easily be added to your water. It’s high in sodium, of course, so do add just a pinch and be cautious if you have blood pressure problems.
Dulse is a mineral-dense sea vegetable that is a great source for natural electrolytes as well. Adding a leaf of dulse to a water bottle is another simple way to increase the “sticking” power of your water.
If you’ve ever had the feeling that no matter how much water you drink, you still feel completely parched; chances are good that you were suffering from electrolyte deficiency. The good news is that with a little planning and consciousness effort, you can dramatically increase your body’s ability to absorb and retain water.
LUCAS ROCKWOOD is a yoga teacher trainer, an author, and the founder of YOGABODY Naturals, an education and food supplement company that creates powerful yoga tools for real people. LEARN MORE HERE.