Ashtanga yoga has very specific rules for sweat and water before and during practice. Many of which, frankly, I have never understood. One of my favorite spiritual teachers, who we call Sadhguru, recently wrote an article about water and Hata Yoga that made it a little bit clearer. I still have many questions and I asked for clarification on certain points in the comments to see if it could be made clearer. If he responds, I will post it here or on Facebook.
The article talks about:
Why sweat should be rubbed back into the body
Drinking water before and during practice
Showering before and after practice
Hata yoga is about creating a body that will not be a hurdle in your lifebut a stepping stone towards blossoming into your ultimate possibility. One simple thing you can do to prepare your body before you start your practice is to take a shower or a bath using water that is a little cooler than room temperature. If a certain volume of water flows over your body, or your body is immersed in water that is cooler than room temperature, the epithelial cells will contract and the intercellular spaces will expand. If you use warm or hot water, the pores of the cells will open up and absorb water – that is not what we want. For the practice of yoga, it is important that the cells contract and the intercellular spaces open up, because we want the cellular structure of the body to be charged with a different dimension of energy. If the cells contract and allow space in between, practicing yoga will charge the cellular structure.
Why some people seem to be far more alive than others is essentially because their cellular structure is more charged. When it is charged with energy, it will remain youthful for a very long time. Hata yoga is a way to do that. In South India, tap water is generally just a little cooler than room temperature. If you are in a temperate climate, the regular tap water may be too cold. Three to five degrees centigrade below room temperature would be ideal. A maximum of ten degrees centigrade below room temperature would be acceptable – the water should not be colder than that.
Whether you practice asanas, Surya Namaskar, or Surya Kriya – if you start sweating, do not wipe off the sweat with a towel – always rub it back, at least into the exposed parts of your skin. If you wipe off the sweat, you drain the energy that you have generated with the practice. Water has the capability to carry memory and energy. That is why you should not wipe off sweat with a towel, drink water, or go to the bathroom during practice time, unless there is a special situation that makes it absolutely necessary. If the bladder is full, you will work harder and get the fluid out through the rest of the body. Then, learning to consume the right amount of water will come naturally. You will just drink as much as the body needs.
Unless you are in a desert or you have habits that dehydrate you – such as excessive consumption of caffeine and nicotine – there is no need to constantly sip water. About 70% of the body is water. The body knows how to manage itself. If you drink according to your thirst plus an additional 10%, it will be enough. To give an example – if your thirst is gone after two sips of water, drink 10% more. That will take care of your body’s need for water. Only if you are out in the sun or trekking in the mountains, sweating heavily and losing water rapidly, you need to drink more – not when you are doing yoga under a roof.
As I already said, rub back the sweat as much as possible, but you need not do that all the time. It can drip a bit – just don’t use a towel. Push it back because we don’t want to drain energy – we want to build it up. After practicing yoga, wait a minimum of 1.5 hours before taking a shower – three hours would be even better. Sweating and not showering for two to three hours could be a bit of an olfactory challenge – so just stay away from others!