HYDRATION AND NUTRITION STRATEGIES FOR A SUSTAINABLE, LONG-TERM HOT YOGA PRACTICE

Dr. Ruddy, ND

The practice of yoga in a hot room is essentially a unique hybrid of a beginner's (foundational) asana practice and "depuration" (purification) technique (think "sweat lodge"). On one hand, hot yoga can elevate the breath-enhancing hatha yoga practice to a whole new realm of self-restoration. On the other hand, without the most basic self-care measures, it can also lead to risk of temporary, as well as long-term, "prana" depletion. As a long-time devotee of disciplined Hot Yoga practice (1,400-something classes in the span of 14 years), I'm able to share some basic considerations for any hot yogi worth his/her salt (and sweat!) to live by:

1. Hydration: it takes only 2% water loss to register thirst, and another 2% to risk fainting. It takes merely 7% total water loss to initiate organ damage. If you're planning to attend any hot classes, remember to pre-hydrate, hydrate, and rehydrate. Ideally, with a pinch of high quality (Celtic, Himalayan) salt in your beverage container.

2. Water-soluble micronutrients: along with water loss, when we sweat we deplete our nutritional reserves during a heightened state of focus during a hot yoga class. Whereas macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbohydrates) are largely responsible for our daily stamina, micronutrients (such as vitamins and minerals) contribute to our daytime fuel efficiency and nighttime tissue repair/healing. Something as simple as Magnesium alone is responsible for 300+ chemical reactions, and is a key nutrient for maintaining our muscle tone; be it heart, skeletal system, or digestive tract. Another common mineral deficiency is Zinc, critical for stomach/intestinal health, baseline immune function, and our integumentary system (skin, hair, and nails, all which protect our body from undue water loss). As a group, B vitamins are critical for our optimal nerve health (stress adaptation) as well as our liver detox function, among countless other roles.


A Hot Yogi' supplemental "cheat sheet":
 

  • B vitamins: select a food-based B complex that also includes folate and biotin.
  • Magnesium: higher quality also means gentler and better absorbed, so choose from glycinate, taurate/taurinate, or malate form.
  • Zinc: opt for picolinate, methionine, cysteine or carnosine version.
  • Do not exceed label serving recommendation. Inform your doctor when taking supplements as well as of any existing medications."