water tips for hot yoga

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I’ve been doing a lot of hot yoga lately and my question is about water breaks during class. Is it ok to just take a sip of water whenever I need it? Or am I required to wait until the teacher suggests it? - Serious Sipper

a yogi answers

Well hello there, Serious Sipper!

I always say that preparation is key for any kind of hot yoga. So, when possible, drink plenty of water before class (stopping an hour prior so you don’t need to go during). This way you won’t feel the need to drink so much when you’re practicing. And then of course, replenish your fluids after.

The less you drink during the class, the less it will sit there in your belly until it’s ready to digest. Drinking water during class is also said to disrupt prana flow and subtle energies so that may be something you want to keep in mind.

Ultimately, however, listen to your body. Drink consciously – not just because you’ve become distracted or think that you should. And if you need to take a sip other than the times the teacher suggests – do it and don’t feel guilty.

Happy hydrating!


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Kate Kendall is an ambassador at lululemon Bondi in Australia. Her website is at http://thenectar.com.au/wp/.

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Keep in mind, though: there are a ton of water etiquette rules in Bikram specifically. You can’t drink until after Eagle is finished (the instructor will prompt you), or during poses (including the Savasana or break between sets). You can sip whenever you want after Eagle, and between any poses you want. Also, the longer you practice hot yoga, the less you will find that you need to drink during the class.

Comment by Becca — January 10, 2011 @ 11:03 am

‘sipping etiquite’? never thought it existed. Interesting post

Comment by Raf Kev — January 10, 2011 @ 9:16 pm

There may be etiquette, but I’m going to listen to my body. If I need a drink, I’m going to have one.

Comment by Ali — January 11, 2011 @ 10:16 am

I have been seriously put off by this topic for a number of years, and offended to the point where I had to make it part of my practice to not read instructors the Riot Act about being water Nazis. After practicing for over 10 years and teaching for over 5, I think it’s ridiculous to tell someone when they should or shouldn’t drink water. Note to teachers: It’s not about YOU! When you’re in my body, you can tell it when to drink. Until then, teach yoga, not hydration etiquette…

Comment by Denis — January 11, 2011 @ 10:21 am

“rules” in yoga seems so anti-yogic to me.

Comment by Heather — January 11, 2011 @ 10:25 am

Do you have any water drinking tips for practicing Bikram yoga first thing in the morning? If I go to yoga about 20-30 minutes after waking up, should I be chugging water the night before? Should I drink water right when I wake up?

Comment by Veronica — January 11, 2011 @ 10:34 am

Thanks for a sane response. I don’t like Bikram yoga, because I don’t sweat enough. I drank water constantly during the time I tried it (for a few weeks) and the macho instructor was constantly saying things like “Are you drinking because you’re thirsty or are you trying to distract yourself?” Maybe a legitimate question, but to someone who doesn’t sweat enough anyway, it seemed kind of mean. And, as said above, a bit anti-yoga.
I also think that saying someone can’t drink water when the room is that hot could border on dangerous.
Thanks for keeping it real!

Comment by Lynn — January 11, 2011 @ 11:52 am

Hi Veronica! If you’re worried about being hydrated when heading into your Bikram class, you may want to get up a little earlier to ensure you have enough time to drink some water. Drinking plenty of water the night before will also help, though you may have the side-effect of having to get up in the middle of the night.
~ Laura, GEC Online Community

Comment by lululemon athletica GEC — January 11, 2011 @ 2:11 pm

I find that if I do more than sip during class it makes my stomach unsettled, especially during a flow portion or a series of poses on the belly.

Comment by Nickie — January 11, 2011 @ 2:48 pm

Nobody, and I mean nobody, should think that they can tell you when to drink. Or towel off.

Thank you for asking this question though and answering it – I think there are far too many “rules” in some yoga classes, which is the opposite of what yoga is suppose to be.

Comment by Natasha — January 11, 2011 @ 6:33 pm

Hii there !!

I do Moksha (hot yoga) between 3 to 5 times a week and how it works here is you can have some water whenever you like but it is best to wait between poses or when they is a downdog so you can jump right back in with the class. By all means if you need water go for it ! There is no rule in Moksha bout when , where or how to drink your water :”)

Also something very important .. always go into class well hydrated !! And don’t forget to drink plenty of water after class to re-hydrate your body , especially after sweating all those toxins out in the hot classes!! :”)

Comment by Kayla — January 11, 2011 @ 11:17 pm

i second heather’s and natasha’s comments, and similar. if your yoga instructor is a “water nazi” (or any kind of nazi) you should probably find a new teacher.

Comment by Helen — January 12, 2011 @ 6:10 am

I totally get why people are turned off by the two-water-break “rule” in a traditional Bikram class…but, there is a method to the madness! A couple things to consider:
>On average, it takes 30-60 minutes for your body to process/digest water, so drinking during class doesn’t actually help you to be more hydrated during practice.
>Your body sends blood to your digestive system to do the processing/digesting…which means that blood isn’t available for your muscles and your cooling system. You need your systems to work effectively and efficiently to get the most out of your practice.
>Bikram yoga is a discipline, and learning to prepare properly and maintain focus without distraction will lead to the greatest benefit.

So, if the water thing is a Bikram deal-breaker for you, cool…thankfully there are many other yoga options : )

One last thought – more important than your water bottle, is your breath!

Comment by Gina — January 15, 2011 @ 12:11 am

One thing that may not have been mentioned already: at the Bikram studio where I practice the instructors ask that we drink after the balance series and between postures so as not to affect other students’ balance/concentration. When students are moving in unison with similar focus it does great things for the energy in the room and improves everyone’s practice! That being said, it is yoga practice, not yoga perfect (as my favorite teacher is fond of reminding us…!)

Comment by Arielle — January 27, 2011 @ 1:00 am

Hate Bikram. Bunch of water nazis, and control freaks.

Yoga is about you, do what feels good. Shouldn’t be about them forcing you through their boring class.

Comment by Jbizzle — February 2, 2011 @ 11:21 pm

I practice hot yoga at Yoga Tropics in Encinitas, CA. The instructors never have a problem with people drinking water in class. They encourage you to drink when you feel the need to. That being said, some instructors point out that too much water can put out your internal fire. I personally very rarely drink during class. I found myself kind of obsessing about it during class which made me really unfocused. I have in turn put my focus on my breathing which has now taken my practice to the next level. Too much water, for me, made it hard to keep my breath and to move into the postures. Do what works best for you.

Comment by HumbleMama — June 16, 2011 @ 11:47 am

Currently, I’m practising bikram yoga in kl and the instructor has his own views about drinking water. He shows his displeasure when we drink water before the tree pose and one other pose. I find it so confusing when the instructors do not share the same rules.Other instructors have allowed us to drink anytime after the eagle pose. Get your act right!

Comment by dolly — August 11, 2011 @ 7:52 am

Drinking water during hot yoga does not hydrate you.

Comment by Nicoya — October 7, 2011 @ 8:38 pm

Interesting string. I go to Moksha, and they are cool about drinking when you need to. I like to gentle suggestions to wait until the class is warmed up, and the prompting to drink between certain poses. Some studios and instructors seem to focus on the student and his/her pratice. Others seem to have more focus on the etiquette. Find what works for you. In defense of those instructors who set aside drinking times, I hate it when I get distracted by those loud plastic bottles in the middle of meditation.

Be peaceful, present, and less rigid.

Comment by Tracy — November 28, 2011 @ 11:23 pm

When I practice hot yoga I am very conscious of taking in plenty of electrolytes in addition to water. Sweat isn’t just water; it is also composed of many different salts. Some people who drink and drink during class but just feel worse and worse may be diluting the remaining electrolytes in their blood at the same time as sweating them out. I know I feel awful if I drink too much water.

Comment by pound — November 30, 2011 @ 7:20 pm

My fave Bikram yoga teacher always says “drink when you need to but drink in between the postures.” In the 2.5 years I’ve been practicing Bikram in different cities and different instructors, nobody will yell at you for drinking outside of prescribed water breaks as long as you are considerate of others (especially during balancing poses!)

Comment by worksy — December 13, 2011 @ 12:14 pm

Instructors showing displeasure? Own views, rules, allowed? What am I? A little kid in kindergarden?

Just picture the same things pertaining to a cashier at a supermarket. I am the customer – I need to be considerate, not to impose my view and behaviour unto others but I am paying for my pleasure not to please an instructor or be allowed to do certain things – sorry guys!

Suggestions are fine and I personally usually do not drink during a class, as it gives me a stomach ache.

On the other hand I work in another sports related field and the “allowed” statements comes from quite a few customers as some of them seem to get high on the allowed and rule feelings?

So take a sip when you feel you need it, please do not bang bottles on the floor and try to be as unobtrusive as possible. One person in a 40 people yoga class doing something else is quite noticable to everybody else and it does change the flow of the class.

How about common sense on each end? And to all instructors: consider the Club Med approach!

Comment by apimom — March 12, 2012 @ 5:14 am

I started doing Bikram just over 4 months ago and go four times a week. There are good reasons not to chug down water. I sip after the first water break and then when I need to. The reason you don’t want to towel off is that the sweat cools you off. I love Bikram!!!! Yes the instructors are bossy, but they want you to be safe and to have a good class. Also, people moving around or drinking while others are in postures is just obnoxious and dangerous.

Comment by ReggieJackson — March 14, 2012 @ 3:52 pm

“bossy” and true yoga, have nothing to do with each other. Plus, who wants to do the same 26 postures every practice?

Long live Ahimsa! Long Live HOT VINYASA!

Comment by Carlos Melden — October 3, 2012 @ 8:53 am

Hot yoga is extremely taxing on the body and my experience has been that no matter how well I am hydrated before class, I need to take in sips of water on frequent basis. Preparing for hot yoga starts by hydrating the body a couple of days with copious amount of water and electrolytes.

Comment by Naz — February 19, 2013 @ 9:05 am

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