Our bodies are approximately 75 percent water and, as you may well know, keeping the body well hydrated is essential to physical well-being. Ayurveda goes so far as to credit water with enhancing memory, awareness, and even consciousness. And Maya Tiwari, author of Ayurveda: Secrets of Healing, says water is essential to both mental and spiritual health.
It comes as no surprise, then, to learn that Ayurveda, like Western medicine, suggests that we drink seven or eight glasses of pure water—filtered or spring—every day. This quantity is necessary, from an Ayurvedic viewpoint, to sweep away ama (toxins) and to ensure that the body's vital energies flow smoothly.
Ayurvedic practitioners recommend that we heat our drinking water to bring the water and fire elements into mutual influence;
this assures the strength of the body's agni (digestive fire). "Ice cold water is poison to the system, because it
cools down agni," says Vasant Lad, president and director of the Ayurvedic Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico. "Hot water is nectar."
A good way to get your daily water intake—along with herbs and spices that can balance your dosha—is to drink spice water. Shubhra Krishan, author of Essential Ayurveda recommends the following recipes.
Hydrating Vata-Balancing Water: Supports and lubricates the lower digestive tract, the seat of vata. Add three mint leaves, one-quarter teaspoon of marshmallow root, and one-half teaspoon of fennel seeds to two quarts of boiled water. Let stand. Sip while it's warm, not hot.
Cooling Pitta-Balancing Water: Refreshes pitta when it's overactive. Add one-quarter teaspoon of fennel seeds, two rosebuds, and one clove to two quarts of boiled water. Pour and drink the mixture when it's at room temperature.
Detoxifying Kapha-Balancing Water: Coldness is an attribute of kapha, and this blend is warming; it's also a mild digestive aid. Add three basil leaves, two thin slices of fresh ginger, one-quarter teaspoon of cumin seeds, and one-half teaspoon of fennel seeds to two quarts of boiled water. Sip it while it's warm or hot.
Ayurvedic practitioners discourage excessive water intake before, during, or immediately after meals, as too much water can
douse agni. At meals, filling the stomach one-third with food, one-third with water, and one-third with air, according to Lad. This prescription promotes a balanced blend of the elements earth, water, air, and fire.