Since every one of us was a kid, we’ve been told we need to drink 8 glasses of water a day minimum—especially when doing lots of exercise. In my family of yoga practitioners and martial artists, this is something we take very seriously, particularly in the summertime. In fact, one of the best ways to protect your health and the health of those you love is simply by keeping everyone hydrated.
Many of us are at least partially dehydrated much of the time. Even just feeling thirsty means you’re dehydrated. Dehydration causes an electrolyte imbalance that affects everything from your energy level and metabolism to your flexibility and coordination. It can increase feelings of anxiety and confusion while negatively affecting your memory and concentration. Constant dehydration is also said to be a precursor to many health problems, such as gallstones, kidney stones, and edema. So if you sweat a lot in your yoga practice or you live in a warm climate, it’s very important to stay adequately hydrated.
When practicing yoga asanas, drink water before and after. Take small sips throughout your workout if you need to. If it’s really hot, you may wish to add an electrolyte packet to your water or have a sports drink instead. Coconut water is nature’s perfect sports drink, but if it’s unrealistic for you to chop open a coconut a couple of times a day, another easy formula I’ve always used for my family is fresh orange juice with a pinch of salt. Orange juice is rich in potassium, a crucial electrolyte that, along with sodium, is easily lost through perspiration. So add a pinch of salt to your OJ and you’ve got your own homemade sports drink.
Generally speaking, eat lots of fruits, vegetables, soups, and juices. These foods are naturally rich in electrolyte minerals and water. Avoid strong diuretics, such as coffee and caffeinated teas or sodas, as they will hasten the loss of fluid from your body. Stick to moisturizing, replenishing, and energizing seasonal fruits and veggies. Opt for whole fruit over dried and boiled foods over baked. The latter in both cases will draw moisture from your body during digestion. When you eat nuts, soak them first. If you’re on a high-protein diet, increase your fluid intake as protein requires considerably more moisture for digestion.
My absolute favorite way to increase the quality of my fluids is by juicing fruits and vegetables. I recommend choosing ones that are rich in potassium, like Asian pear, papaya, mango, cantaloupe, banana, and even avocado. Broth or soup is also a wonderful way to replenish fluids, especially when made with mineral-rich potato, carrot, tomato, yam, or sweet squash.
Here’s a light, sweet, and refreshing fruit and veggie juice that’s just delicious on a hot summer day. It truly satisfies your thirst as it strengthens your bones, teeth, and immune system.
3 large bok choy leaves
1 cup bean sprouts
1 Asian pear
5 fresh mint leaves (or more)
1-inch piece fresh ginger (peeled)
Chop ingredients in pieces small enough to fit through your juicer hopper. Rotate soft and firm ingredients through your juicer, ending with firm. Serve with or without ice.
Rich in electrolyte minerals, this replenishing, cooling juice is perfect for summertime. It’s also a good source of calcium, so it helps strengthen your bones, hair, teeth, and nails. It can also be helpful if you suffer from arthritis, diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity, or fatigue. Mint and ginger are both mild stimulants, so you may not want to drink this combination just before bed. Ginger improves digestion, metabolism, circulation, and immune function.
Wai Lana hosts the long-running TV series Wai Lana Yoga, which airs nationally on PBS and the Wisdom channel. She is the author of Wai Lana’s Favorite Juices and Wai Lana’s Favorite Soups. For more information, please visit wailana.com/juicing.