As part of my sadhana (self-practice) for the next 7 weeks in Mysore, India, my teacher told me to start drinking 4 liters of water. When he explained how this I don’t think I was actually aware of how much water this really is and if I could do it.
The next day when I confessed to falling short he told me I didn’t respect him and how can I expect to change if I do not even listen to my teacher? I thought I might say clever like I was starting slow and parrot what my husband said, which is that it’s a lot of water. However, in this case these were excuses. Some things can be taken in stages but one should not disrespect their teacher. Plus it is only water.....what is the worst that can happen....re: getting to a toilet on time.
The 4 liter of water per day practice raised the question and concern of whether or not this is too much? Is there such a thing?
We hear a lot about how 2 liters of water is great, but can drinking too much be bad?
My husband’s reaction to drinking 4 liters was to google it. Given that I often did not drink enough it would be wonderful to start drinking at least up to 2 liters. As far what’s out there on resources drinking too much does not have any ill effects. If your system can handle it and you are not heading to the toilet every hour then it is okay. A more common problem is not drinking enough!
When I asked my fellow practitioners they were not convinced, but they also had never been advised to drink 4 liters. Living in India for over 6 years my friend Marina felt too much water would make her too ying and humid inside. Her husband who is a former psychologist and travelling yoga teacher at present said it all depends on the climate, culture, diet and general living habits. A vegetarian might not need to take 4 litres since fruits and vegetables will produce more water in your system. Living as well in a cold climate could make you feel pretty cold inside.
Experiments with water
On the next day, I decided to give it a better try and get beyond the standard 2 liter fix. I began drinking 2 litres in the morning, 1 liter in the afternoon and another by the early evening. My first reaction was that most of the water was running thorough me like a faucet. I landed at a hotel to use the washroom and stopped at the side of the road to squat when the pressure got bad. I also experienced a lack of hunger and feeling bloated. Upon telling my teacher these antics he laughed and simply said, “You need to control your mind.”
As the week progressed, I discovered drinking 4 liters was not excessive, the toilet trips lessened and it was not as difficult to do. In fact, it was refreshing. There might, however, be something to be said about forcing yourself to drink instead of doing it when you are naturally thirsty. Yet if you have had a prior habit of not drinking much you may NEED to force or remind yourself gently to do so. Relying on what your head told you to do may not work since your head also forgot to tell you to drink!
Here’s a few tips for drinking more water: