Bikram yoga offers some health benefits, but the hallmark high-heat environment can place a significant strain on your body if you don't take appropriate steps before and after class. Bikram can cause a student to sweat profusely during the 90-minute class, which can result in dehydration and low levels of electrolytes including sodium. With proper preparation, a healthy diet and adequate fluid intake, you can get the most out of your Bikram class while maintaining proper hydration and sodium balance.
Drink 4 to 8 cups of non-purified water, high mineral content water about two hours before Bikram yoga class. Filtered tap water is a good source of mineral-rich water. Avoid drinking purified water because the purification process removes the sodium and other minerals that your body needs during the rehydration process.
Drink 4 to 8 cups of mineral-rich water immediately after class. The more you sweat during class, the more water you must to consume to maintain safe hydration levels.
Supplement your water consumption with coconut water, apple juice or celery juice. These three types of juice help you replenish sodium while also providing potassium and magnesium, which are other electrolytes that your body needs to function properly.
Mix electrolyte replacement products into your water for additional sodium replacement. Many health and fitness stores offer electrolyte replacement mixes that provide similar benefits to electrolyte-rich sports drinks without the sugar and high fructose corn syrup that those beverages contain.
Eat fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods that contain sodium. Pineapples and melons are good fruits for adding sodium to the diet, while radishes, celery, bell peppers and sweet potatoes are all good vegetable sources of sodium.
Season your foods with salt if your sodium levels are still too low. Sea salt and table salt both contain similar amounts of sodium. The health risks that many people associate with adding salt to the diet don't apply if your body isn't getting enough sodium in the first place.
- Sweat output during exercise in hot conditions varies greatly between people. The more you sweat, the more liquid and electrolytes you must add to your diet to maintain proper health. Consult a physician or registered dietitian for guidance.
- Consult your doctor before starting a Bikram yoga regimen, or if you experience dizziness or nausea during or after your class.
Dan Howard is a sports and fitness aficionado who holds a master's degree in psychology. Howard's postgraduate research on the brain and learning has appeared in several academic books and peer-reviewed psychology journals.