Take a Sip of Water – If You Need It

The phrase, “Take a sip of water – if you need it” is pretty common where I practice. I have heard it hundreds of times. However, it only really struck a chord with me in the last week. I usually hear this phrase at party time and then at the initial savassanah.

Sometimes I am in a space where I have no desire for water. Other times I really do believe I NEED that sip of water. But recently I owned up the fact that I don’t really need it, not usually, on a physical level.

Let’s be honest. If you need the water for physical reasons then you are dehydrated to some degree. That water will help you eventually, but your body won’t be able to process it in time to make your class any better. We all know you have to come into class properly hydrated. We all know that we don’t really need the water in class. I do believe there are exceptions to that. If you find yourself dehyradated then good grief, take the water. If you are sick or recovering from an illness taking some extra sips of water is probably a good idea.

So if I don’t normally need the water physically, why am I drinking it? Mental. It’s all mental.

I don’t think I’ll die or become dehydrated or ill if I don’t drink my water. I’m not concerned with anything bad happening to me if I don’t drink water in class. Mentally however, I enjoy the water. I swear it’s fulfilling some psychological need. Or is it? If I don’t need it physically, then why am I drinking it? Why does my brain kick in and say things like “Yummy, yummy, water. Must have it!” and other junk like that? Is my water fulfilling a psychological need – which we could argue is just as valid as a physical one – or is the water serving as a distraction to my practice? Because my brain will totally go to the water and start thinking about it. It likes to wander around. It often has it’s own agenda.

I'm off to get some water. Be back soon!

I’m off to get some water. Be back soon!

I did go through a period where I was taking classes with no water. I even reached a point where I didn’t bring water into the room! I liked that. It gave me a lot of freedom in my practice. But then I hit a bad class where I crashed out on the floor in dire need of electrolytes, and I think I just panicked. From that day on I thought I should bring water in just in case. Of course during my bad class someone left the room and got me what I needed, but I thought I should play it safe. So I think that part of the reason I bring the water in to begin with is fear although rationally I know there is nothing to fear.

Why do you drink in class? Do you need it? Why do you need it?


20 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. teenieyogini
    Jan 23, 2013 @ 16:08:59

    I take 4 sips- party time, before triangle, in fixed firm and before stretching. For me, it’s not about hydrating, just wetting my mouth at the first three helps with breathing and self regulating. The 4th is a diversion, because I hate stretching pose. I might even drink the entire bottle just to avoide doing the posture.


    • leighahall
      Jan 23, 2013 @ 21:02:18

      Ha ha. You drink for diversion. I KNOW I do that. That’s why I drink after camel. I drink so I don’t have to feel whatever it is camel makes me feel. It’s a total distraction.at that moment. I should not do that every single class. I do like what yours truly said below your comment about not getting into routines. I definitely have a water routine. I’m starting to question it.


  2. yours truly
    Jan 23, 2013 @ 16:37:41

    I overheard 2 teachers speaking about how subtle phrasing can change students’ behaviour on the turn of a dime, and I always think of this when I hear this phrase. After having a crash out I take 2-3 sips of water every class since then, but I know it’s out of fear more than anything else so I’ve tried to start backing off and truly trying to listen to my body. A teacher yesterday noted that it’s not good to get into routines, and that includes when you take your sips of water so really challenge yourself not to fall into the habit. So here’s to challenging ourselves (but always having electrolytes near by!)


    • teenieyogini
      Jan 23, 2013 @ 18:42:54

      That’s good advice!


    • leighahall
      Jan 23, 2013 @ 21:04:17

      All of these comments combined have helped me understand that I definitely take water after camel (it’s a routine) in order to avoid feeling whatever it is camel sends me. So I think for Thursday my step will be to not take water after camel. Thanks for all this fabulous discussion!


      • yours truly
        Jan 24, 2013 @ 08:06:41

        Oh, camel. I’m still on an emotional roller coaster thanks to a daily practice. Darn heart openers, making me feel things! Best of luck today! You can face whatever the pose brings you, believe it ๐Ÿ™‚


        • leighahall
          Jan 25, 2013 @ 07:34:54

          Thanks! I did make it through camel without taking water afterwards. It was easy because I had made the decision to do it before I walked in the room. Savassanah was over before I knew it, and we were on to rabbit!


  3. LSRogers
    Jan 23, 2013 @ 18:52:19

    I also think a lot about this topic of water drinking. I have done classes with no water. It is a different kind of mental issue for me. I have no desire to drink during class, but I do because I sweat so much. I can lose pounds after a class! I may not be dehydrated before, during or after class, but I am just trying to stay ahead of it. Drinking small sips of water all the time seems best than guzzling 8-12 ounces, especially if you are suppose to drink at least half your body weight in ounces a day. I mean I am doing this all day long as well. Since, starting Bikram yoga 2 and 1/2 years ago, I try not to go 90 minutes of no water at anytime, except when sleeping. I was wondering what people take for electrolytes? Do you take a pill? Eat certain foods? Drink them in a solution?


    • leighahall
      Jan 23, 2013 @ 20:59:52

      Taking sips of water here and there makes sense the way you described it. For me, I’m starting to wonder if it’s becoming more of a distraction. Honestly, I have been wanting to write a post about how one of my hobbies is staying hydrated! It feels like something I am always thinking about (not a bad thing).

      I do take extra electrolytes. I use Elete Tablytes: https://store.healthsoluteions.com/index.php/elete-electrolyte-add-in.html. When I had my last potassium shortage, I started upping the number of these (you can take at least 10 a day. I had been taking 2 and upped it to four.).I also put Propel powder in my water.


      • LSRogers
        Jan 24, 2013 @ 20:40:34

        Thanks for your advice! I know it may sound strange, but I can’t even tell you when I drink. I just do and to me it doesn’t feel like a distraction. I know this goes against what is taught, but I am not one for extremes. If I was doing any other type of physical activity I would drink water, so why not in the sweatiest enviroment I ‘m ever in! I do think people can get dehydrated, especially if doing doubles and challenges regularly…been there, done that. No fun feeling like a prune.
        I look forward to more posts on staying hydrated!!! What a great topic!


        • leighahall
          Jan 25, 2013 @ 07:36:10

          I think the fact that you can’t say when you usually drink water is a good thing! I think it means you are not locked down into a habit. I could tell you the places where I usually drink, and I think it’s become a habit/distraction for me.


  4. bitchingaboutbikram
    Jan 23, 2013 @ 21:22:07

    Great topic! My water sips occur at Party Time, at Savasanah, and at Fixed Firm. I’ve actually become aware that I don’t *need* the Party Time drink, but I do it anyway because it’s what all the cool kids are doing. I could probably skip the Savasana sip as well, but by the time Fixed Firm comes around I feel legitimately famished and end up guzzling a bunch.

    I don’t know if I could go to class without a water bottle. I think it would be an interesting challenge, but maybe not one I’m ready for yet.

    For electrolytes, I use the Ultima Powder. They had some samples at my studio and it’s DELICIOUS, so I bought a jug of the orange flavor. Yum!


  5. Penelope
    Jan 23, 2013 @ 21:33:50

    That stuff about camel is interesting, because my first class ever, the teacher told us that before or after camel was the worst possible time to take water (partly for the reason you mentioned but also because camel can force it back up). I have, since then, never taken water after fixed firm! I do take water in class just because it is delicious and for me, I don’t feel a compelling reason not to. (I don’t really get distracted thinking about it at all; I have plenty other distractions!) Also, before I started Bikram, I HATED water. (I know – what?) Hated the taste, hated the feeling of drinking it (yes, even as a runner). Doing Bikram yoga has made me genuinely like water, so I figure, might as well go with it.


  6. mrsniklasson
    Jan 24, 2013 @ 04:32:44

    I no longer drink any water during class, just before and after. It took some unlearning, but now there are no water distractions for me in class.


  7. Mark
    Jan 25, 2013 @ 13:05:04

    This has always been an issue for me. At first, I would always freeze a liter bottle of water before class. It was my “life preserver”; enough would melt to sip at Party Time, after that I would cling to that bottle as I sat out Triangle or Separate Leg Head to Knee. On the floor, I would try to surreptitiously press it close to me to try and “survive” the class. Didn’t matter how much the instructor said it wasn’t necessary, I NEEDED IT!! Later, I did take some classes (only two or three) without any water. I felt a great sense of accomplishment at this, but I still MUST have my H2O most of the time. Still learning the lessons about being distracted — even now. Great post!


    • leighahall
      Jan 25, 2013 @ 16:03:11

      Isn’t it funny how in love with our water bottles we can be? I know I have a serious relationship with mine! ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m trying to figure out how much I really need it and how much I just want it. I think it’s mostly want. But I am breaking my habit of not drinking after camel.


  8. MIke Mitchell
    Feb 09, 2013 @ 23:14:38

    My studio started 30 day challenge in mid January which will wrap up this Tuesday 2/12 (Mardi gras!) I’ve gradually reduced water intake during class over the past year. A number of months back I went from taking sips at numerous times through out the class to only drinking after Eagle (party time, lol), middle savasana and final savasana. I would finish a 16 oz bottle by the end of class. Then I eliminated the Party Time drink because I wanted to focus on getting ready for Head to Knee, which I love but is still a work in progress for me and very strenuous. I found drinking water was a distraction from catching my breath. If you’re out of breath a little, even if you are breathing properly, drinking doesn’t help but seems to prolong the time to catch your breath. So then it was just middle and final savasana. (For some reason, it never occurred to me to drink after Camel, I see that has been a point of discussion here, interesting….) On the first day of our studio-wide challenge, I accidentally forgot my water bottle and was about to get one out of the cooler, when I thought, “blank it” I don’t need it. I always hydrate well before and after class, and one of our teachers is a proponent of no water in class. She doesn’t push it just recommends it if it comes up in discussion. So I went in to class without water and loved it. Personally I realized that water was a distraction and that even in middle savasana, I was able to recover faster and use the time better just laying still and breathing as opposed to first getting a couple gulps of water then laying still and breathing. I’ve done every class since without water (27 and counting) and have no intention of going back to bringing water in class. I don’t miss it and I think I am more focused and find greater stillness without it. It makes class easier not harder. Its not about being hard core its about what you think will help improve your practice. I recommend doing what you feel inclined to do. If you feel like taking water into class, fine, take it. If you want to see if it helps your practice not to, give it a shot, you might find you like it better. It shouldn’t be a rule or a status symbol, just a personal preference as we pursue our own practices together. I still carry my water bottle to the studio. I fill it up and leave it on the self in the registration area and yes I go right to it after class, after a long final savasana.


    • leighahall
      Feb 10, 2013 @ 19:53:09

      What a wonderful response on the issue. Thanks Mike! I love how you point out that not taking water isn’t about being hard core but improving your practice. I totally agree. And the interesting thing (for me) is that while it can make class physically easier it can make it mentally harder. I think this can be a nice challenge though. I find it forces me to pay attention to what I need and not what my brain wants.


  9. Trackback: Retro Throwback: Take a Sip of Water | My Bikram Yoga Life
  10. LeighAHall (@LeighAHall)
    Jan 18, 2015 @ 09:40:05

    Take a Sip of Water – If You Need It http://t.co/KZv8zGSwkH #bikramyoga #yogaholicsmag


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