"If it has to be taken alone then water should either be treated with herbs, or it should be boiled or it should be cold or heated. The water is as efficacious as amrita (elixir) if it is taken as per the condition of body and in right amount, at the right time and in the right manner. Else, it creates toxicity in the body." - Ashtanga Samgraha -6 chapter - 32 quotation
Just like a plant will thrive when you water it properly, but if you water it too often it will start to rot. So, let us drink water to help us thrive and not rot our digestive fire or agni.
Ayurveda and ancient traditional practices suggest that, by following some simple practices, we can experience enhanced benefits of water, including its Tridoshic property, that is to balance all three doshas, Pitta, Vata, and Kapha. These practices cover various aspects of drinking water, and by imbibing them into our routine, we can see a transformation in our minds and body.
What does Ayurveda say about drinking water the correct way?
Ayurveda mentions that “The water is as efficacious as amrita (elixir) if it is taken as per the condition of the body and in the right amount, at the right time, and in the right manner. Else, it creates toxicity in the body.”
According to Ayurveda, water signifies Soma, which represents cooling and nourishment.
Ancient texts say one should drink water as per the requirements of the body. Interestingly, there are certain health conditions that demand no water intake while in some cases it is necessary. Read along to know about the right amount, temperature, and quantity of water one should take as per body type and dosha.
What is the ideal temperature at which a person should drink water?
The water's temperature plays a vital role. According to Ayurvedic practices and traditional texts, the right temperature to drink water is either hot or at room temperature. Ayurvedic experts suggest that boiling water down to one-fourth of its amount and drinking it makes it sharper and more beneficial. Research2 also suggests that drinking warm water can improve digestion and intestinal movements. Moreover, cold water is associated with disrupted digestion1 and reduces agni (digestive fire) in our body.
Ayurveda highlights the concept of Ushapana. The practice requires a person to drink water first in the morning as it allows for the natural detoxification of the system. Timing the water becomes relevant when a person is struggling with imbalanced dosha. For example, people with Kapha and Vata dosha should drink water before meals. In contrast, people with Pitta Dosha can drink water anytime throughout the day to regulate their agni (heat) and digestive health. As a general rule, Ayurveda suggests that a person should drink water in the morning on an empty stomach.
Believe it or not, yes. Unlike popular beliefs and myths suggesting intake of 2 to 4 liters of water throughout the day, having too much water is not suitable for everyone. Ayurveda mentions the notion of Vega (an urge) and recognizes thirst as a type of Vega. It further states that while attending to a natural urge is important, creating and attending to an unnecessary urge is wrong.
Therefore, according to Ayurveda, people must only drink water when they feel thirsty. Since having too much or too little water can vitiate our doshas, having too much water cannot be recommended. Thus, even a tendency to drink excess water when thirsty, is considered wrong according to Ayurveda.
As water has cooling properties, it can upset the body's agni and interrupt healthy digestion and metabolism.
Examples of these can be seen in the fact that the modern-day system prohibits water intake in cases of digestive disorders like acidity, constipation, gas, diarrhea, spleen disorders, etc. Still, our traditional records suggest that such people can consume a little water if their thirst becomes intolerable.
Ayurveda regards water as an elixir when consumed correctly and poison when consumed otherwise. Therefore, contrary to the notion floating on the internet, drinking excess quantities of water, even when thirsty, can lead to trouble. Speaking from the perspective of Ayurvedic doshas, having too much water is not advisable for people with any vitiated dosha as it can lead to poor digestion.
According to ayurvedic texts, drinking excess water can weaken the 13 types of agni (digestive fire) present in our body, including jatharagni (digestive fire), dhaatvageni (fire affecting structural units of the body), and bhutagni (fire at cellular) since a large number of diseases originate due to poor digestive fire. It is vital to drink water when needed, not out of habit. However, this does not suggest that people should dehydrate themselves; rather, they should allow their thirst to guide them.
Water absorption rate
When effectively absorbed by the body, water can help digestion, making the skin glow, detoxify, reduce constipation, and increase stamina3. Different types of water have different rates of absorption. Ayurvedic texts talk about different rates of absorption:
Regular water takes around 6 hours if all the channels are clear.
Boiled water takes about 3 hours to be absorbed and also helps in opening channels
Warm herb-infused water takes around one and a half hours.
This is associated with the sharpness of water due to boiling and the agni of herbs and spices.
How drinking water the right way can help us?
Water has the ability to deal with all three doshas. It can cool and balance vitiated Pitta dosha. It can also help balance Kapha dosha by reducing overeating, and counteracts the dryness associated with Vata.
Pitta Dosha: Drinking water at either room temperature or warm throughout the day is recommended for people with Pitta dosha for maintaining digestive heat and health.
Vata Dosha: Ayurveda recommends people with Vata dosha drink water after having food to ensure good digestion.
Kapha Dosha: People with Kapha dosha are advised to drink water before meals to reduce the chances of overeating.
Another important aspect to understand is that a person should consume around 2 liters of liquids daily, including a cumulative volume of water, milk, juices, etc. However, some specific bodily processes require a certain amount of water. Ayurveda mentions a recommended amount of water for the following purposes:
For intestinal cleansing: Ayurveda recommends consuming around 250 ml or a glass of warm water on an empty stomach in the morning for internal cleansing.
For the digestive process: Ayurveda recommends 100-150 ml of warm water should be consumed, during a meal.
On feeling thirsty: Ayurveda recommends drinking around 150 ml of water, sip by sip. It is advisable to drink water only when a person is feeling thirsty and not otherwise.
It is advised that water should be consumed slowly, sip by sip. Ayurvedic experts suggest that a person take small and regular sips of water rather than chugging it down.
Our body shows signs to let us know when it needs water. Therefore we must take these cues from our bodies and drink when we feel thirsty. So the next time you drink water, just because an app sends you a reminder may not be the smartest thing you are doing. Just remember a plant will thrive when you water it properly, but if you water it too often it will start to rot. So, let us drink water to help us thrive and not rot our agni.