Water represents soma, the nourishing, cooling quality that is associated with lunar energy. It helps with digestion, cools and balances Pitta dosha, supports Kapha, and counteracts the dryness of Vata. It nurtures, lubricates and also detoxifies when it flows out of the body as urine.
In order to cleanse the channels and enhance moisture absorption, ayurvedic texts recommend boiling the water for various lengths of time, creating a therapeutic water called ushnodaka. Another method is to add spices or herbs to the water after boiling. Ancient texts talk about the difference in the rate of absorption of regular water vs. boiled water:
- Regular water — takes about 6 hours if every channel is clear
- Boiled and cooled water — takes about 3 hours to be absorbed, and helps open the channels
- Hot herbalized water — takes about 1½ hours, due to sharpness of agni and herbs and spices
Water for Your Body Type
How much water you should drink depends on your age, how much physical work or exercise you do, the weather, your diet, your stress levels, your herbal food supplements, and your body type. The warm Pitta types usually are thirstier than the watery Kapha types. Vata types are often constipated or have dry skin and thus need to drink more water. Ayurveda suggests the way you choose to drink water affects your health.
The Ayurveda Way of Drinking Water:
- First of all, sit down and have a drink (just as you should sit down when you eat).
- Take a sip, do not drink the whole glass. Sip, swallow, breathe. Repeat.
- Drink water in sips throughout the day. If swallowed too much water at once your body does not absorb the liquid. Most of it just goes right through you.
- The water temperature should be at least the same as the room temperature. Warm is always better. Cold and icy waters literally shuts down your digestive fire.
- After the meal, drink a sip of water. If you drink too much while you eat, your stomach will not have enough space for digestive action. Remember this rule: Fill your stomach 50% food, 25% water and leave 25% empty space.
- For the same reason, do not drink a lot of water before or after meals. As we have already said – fill the stomach 50% food, 25% water and leave 25% empty.
- Drink when you are thirsty. Thirst is a natural instinct that you should follow. That means that the body needs water.
- Regarding quantity, we are all different, different sizes with different diets and lifestyles. The universal rule of eight glasses a day is simply not applicable to everyone. Of course, the amazing human body has its own built-in measurement system: thirst. If you are thirsty, drink water. When you listen to the signals of thirst and sipping water throughout the day you will have the right deal.
- Your urine is another test whether your body is properly hydrated. It should be quite clear and straw-colored. If it is dark yellow, you need to drink more.
- Your lips are another indicator. If they are dry, it is likely your body is dehydrated.
The rules are very simple, perhaps even obvious. However, they can make a serious change in the way we feel on a daily basis. The important rule is that we become aware of what we eat and drink and to listen to the signals of our body. Do not ignore thirst.
Ingredients that can be added to make water more detoxifying
Drinking a mixture of lemon with water helps to cleanse and alkalize the body. Add one thinly sliced lemon to a large pitcher, or squeeze fresh lemon juice into your glass. Drink it first thing in the morning, and wait about 30 minutes to have breakfast.
Lemon water reduces inflammation, aids digestion, helps you lose weight, keeps your skin blemish-free, gives your immune system a boost, freshens your breath and fights viral infections.
Mint adds a touch of sweetness without the sugar to your water, and aids in digestion.
Adding a few slices of cucumber to your water makes for excellent rehydration. Moreover, it also contains anti-inflammatory properties.
It is needless to say that ginger has quite a lot of health benefits. This helps cleanse out your system, aids in digestion, and settles your stomach. Add a few thin slices or grate a tiny piece into your water and taste before adding more as necessary.
Hydrate your body properly, add mindfulness to your drinking and eating habits, and consider it a sacred act. Then, and only then, will you start to heal the physical body.