How cold should my drinking water be after practicing on a hot day?
Ice water may sound appealing after practicing in sticky summer heat, but Ayurvedic theory suggests it’s better to drink something warmer after strenuous exercise. The reasoning: Yoga helps stoke and balance agni, “fire centers” that govern the function of your mind, organs, tissues, and especially digestion. But drinking cold water during or after practice can smother agni, diminishing your digestive system’s ability to process sugars, fats, and proteins and slowing your metabolism.
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That said, your individual dosha (Ayurvedic constitution) determines how your body digests food and water, so there’s no single best temperature or timing for a post-practice drink. If you’re a kapha dosha, associated with the water element, drink warm water 20−40 minutes after practicing; if you’re vata, associated with the air element, drink lukewarm or warm water 15−30 minutes after class; and if you’re pitta, the fire dosha, drink room-temperature water 15−30 minutes post-practice.
--Larissa Hall Carlson
Dean, Kripalu School of Ayurveda, Stockbridge, Massachusetts