Bikram Challenge: "I'm Retaining Water!"

A fellow Bikram yoga challenger wrote me this morning on Facebook with a dilemma.

She is getting back into her practice after having taken a year off, and is doing with a 30-Day Challenge. She is on her eighth day in the challenge and she noticed something...
When will I stop retaining water?! I'm actually GAINING weight every day, despite the fact that I'm staying on plan with Weight Watchers too. Thoughts??? A bit discouraging... 
Don't be discouraged!!!! This is absolutely normal!

Let me tell you about my Teacher Training experience, which is all too familiar to people who throw themselves into an aggressive Bikram challenge...

The first week of training, I lost 10 pounds. The double practices a day combined with long late-night lectures wreaked havoc on my digestion and my appetite. I couldn't eat! And anything I did eat went right through me. It was happening to NEARLY ALL OF US! 

By the end of the second week, though, I found a way to force myself to eat and drink water. And then I started retaining water and gaining weight.  In fact, my weight swung 20 pounds in the opposite direction! It eventually came off, but by the end of week four, I was 10 pounds over where I had started  teacher training at. 

What was the culprit?

In my opinion, it was me going from 0 to 60 mostly. I didn't practice consistently in the two months leading up to training. I was going twice a week. And the two weeks before training, I didn't go at all. Then, I hopped in the hot room and was doing three to four hours a day of hot yoga a day! My body was like "WTF?!?!? What are you doing to me? And why are you doing it?!?"

It takes time for your body to normalize when you essentially "shock" it in to a Bikram challenge. My advice:
  • Drink water. Mostly before and after class. Try not to drink too much during class.
  • Drink electrolytes or coconut water. 
  • Drink hot water with lemon at the start and end of each day. This helps you with your digestion.
  • Eat foods high in magnesium and potassium: Watermelon. Avocados. Apples.  YUMMM!!!!
Your body will start to acclimatize and stop retaining the water. And your practice will be beautiful!


Anonymous said...

I've been practicing for over 5 months now and have missed but 10 days, I continue to struggle with the water retention/edema and have put on a considerable amount of weight. My wedding ring is tight, my socks leave indents, it hurts to bend my fingers.

Anonymous said...

(Cont'd) I eat a very low sodium diet of minimally processed foods. I drink a minimum of 2 liters of reverse osmosis water per day and on most days I add a cup or two of organic coconut water. The routine (postures and breathing) are helping me immensely, both physically (range of motion and balance) and mentally (concentration, mood), BUT I hate the feeling of being HUGE, like a big water balloon. I sweat buckets in class. I estimate I've gained 15 to 20 pounds (started in the low 90s, which isn't bad for a shortie), with no change in my dietary intake besides more water and the coco water. Sigh . . . I will continue because I paid for an annual membership, but once that expires I will be looking for a similar class sans the heat (Tony Sanchez style).

Anonymous said...

One more thing out of me: I never drink during class, just throughout the day.