People ask me all the time if they can eat or drink anything before taking a Hot Yoga or a Bikram Yoga class. The short answer is yes, but it depends on what you eat/drink and when you plan on taking class.
Before I take a Hot Yoga or Bikram Yoga class, I always make sure I’m well hydrated. This means drinking plenty of water the day before I plan on taking class as well as drinking enough water during class and then rehydrating myself after class with more water throughout the day. Trust me, you don’t want to show up for class thirsty. If you know you’re going to class, you’ll want to plan ahead and get prepared the day before you go.
So what does “enough” water mean? Ideally, you’re drinking at least 8 to 10 glasses of water each day. I carry a 48-ounce water bottle with me at all times. On a good day, I polish off three of these, which is equivalent to 144 ounces of water during the day. I always finish a full bottle of water during any Hot Yoga or Bikram Yoga class I take. In a Bikram Yoga class, I typically will drink a few swigs of water before class starts, during Party Time (the only official water break during class), right before the first Savasana (the transition from the Standing Series to the Spine Strengthening Series, when you get on the floor in class), right before Fixed Firm Pose, right before Head To Knee Pose, right before the final breathing exercise and then drink the rest of my water before settling into the final Savasana of class.
After class, I’ll drink another two bottles of water sometime during the day. I try to stop drinking water about an hour or two before bedtime. I find it pretty easy to meet my daily water quota when I don’t tempt myself to drink liquid calories like soda or juice. I’m not a coffee fan so I’m never tempted to drink it.
It’s a good idea to space out your water consumption throughout the day. If you drink too much water right before a Bikram Yoga class, you risk feeling water logged and sick to your stomach, especially in the Spine Strengthening Series when you’re lying on your stomach. Trust me, I’ve done it! If you drink too much water right before going to bed, you risk being woken up in the middle night needing to answer the call. I’ve done that before too!
Most studios will recommend not eating a full, heavy meal at least two to three hours before taking a Hot Yoga or Bikram Yoga class. This is easy when you’re taking the first class of the day, right after waking up. If you plan on taking a class in the middle of the day or after work, you’ll need to consider your meal times so you don’t have food sitting in your stomach during class. For me, my body needs a little something in my system before any class I take, no matter what time of the day I take it. If I take a 6am class, I’ll choose a small snack like a banana to eat on my way into class. If I take a class after work, I’ll make sure to eat a light lunch no later than 1 or 2pm.
Keep in mind everyone’s body is different with different needs. The only way you’re going to know what works for your body is by doing a little experimenting of your own. What works for some, might not work for others. These are just some guidelines to help you figure out what will work for you.