It’s the start of the year, so there are a lot of new students in class lately. Sure, that can be inconvenient — super-crowded classes, lots of extra explanation up-front from the teacher — but it’s also a wonderful opportunity to re-examine your practice through a new lens. Many times new students can question the norms and provide an interesting insight.
That happened for me in class today when there was a dispute about drinking water during the warm-up. A new student (2nd class) started to drink during awkward pose, but the teacher stopped her and asked her to wait until the first water break. While I have seen this happen before, and the student usually sets aside the water and waits, this particular student said, “But I didn’t know that I wouldn’t be allowed to drink water when I wanted it. That is a problem for me.” The teacher further explained that it was proper Bikram etiquette to wait for the first drink until after the warmup, and the student decided to wait.
A little disruptive, but it got me thinking — when do I drink water in class and are those the right times to be drinking? What I discovered is that I have a very regular pattern for drinking water during class. I drink at (1) party time (of course!), (2) before standing separate leg stretching, (3) before the first savasna, (4) before cobra, (5) before fixed firm, (6) before head to knee pose with stretching pose, and (7) before final savasna. All of this adds up to one 40 oz flask of water per class.
I also noticed a few other interesting things.
1. I drink more often during the floor series than during the arguably more strenuous standing series. Maybe all the savasnas between postures on the floor provide more opportunities to drink, while the standing series moves more rapidly. Or maybe I am just thirstier as the class goes on. Or maybe I start to lose focus and the water is a distraction.
2. I only drink BEFORE postures, not after them. This really only applies to the floor series, where I make a point to always drink at the start of a new posture rather than at the conclusion of a posture. I believe that getting into savasna right away is important in making sure I get the full benefits of the concluding pose.
3. I am not a sipper. I drink several full swallows each time. Teachers warn this can fill your belly with water and make you nauseous, but so far it has been fine. And boy does it feel good.
4. I probably should not be drinking before cobra pose. Teachers warn us not to drink right before the spine strengthening series since you will be laying on your belly. I have not had any issues yet, but I can see that it really is not a good idea. I also noticed that no one else was drinking at that time. I should try to cut that out of my routine.
Fellow yogis, when do you drink water in class?