I am not going to address that New York Times article. I have yet to hear anyone give it any credence outside of the idea that ego should be left outside the room. Everyone should know that already. If you don't, here you go, leave your ego outside the room. Now, in an effort to make hyperbolic journalism go away, there will be no further mention of it here...and NO links back to it. The last thing they need is more hits for bad journalism. That's just rewarding them for scare tactics.
Speaking of hyperbole, controversy, and infighting among yogis, I will now open myself up to attack by discussing the Bikram version of religion or politics, water. Over my short stint as a Bikram yogi I have heard more theories on water than there are Indian restaurants on Devon Avenue. For you non-Chicagoans, trust me, that's a lot. The three main theories I have heard will be explained and point/counter-pointed below. Before going through this I would like to say a few disclaimers. In fact, to make it look official Im going to do it like this.*
So why am I writing this? Because I know a lot of people have very strong opinions on water, I have found a method that was passed to me and works great for me. I would like to share it just in case you want to try too. The most common water theories I have encountered go like this:
1. Drink a ton of water. Then stop. Seriously, stop two hours before class so you don't have to pee. Then, drink water heavily through class.
I kind of take issue with this theory, but I've heard it a lot. To my ears this sounds like, let your body start to dehydrate, and right when it's all out of reserves to process, ask it to do a lot of work in a hot room! It takes your body time to process water, so when you start drinking right at eagle, you still have a while until your body gets that water. I, personally, want my body as filled to my eyeballs with water as I can get it. I have only had to pee once in the classroom, and I will not lie, it was bad, like overfilled water-balloon bad. But you know what, I made it through, did my yoga to the extent I could and got through the class. So you have to pee? So what. The bathroom can't be more than a few steps away if you need it. I would way rather have to pee than not have my body filled with a store of usable water. Neat thing about hydrating to the last minute? There's a reason I never have to pee. I use the water before it gets to my bladder, how friggin' cool is that?
2. Drink all day, drink at least two water bottles of water in class.
Not as counter-intuitive, and definitely recommended throughout the Bikram world. Coolio. I did my first year with this method. You are guaranteed hydration, your body stays full of water and you stay safe. Fantastic.
And here comes the kicker. The one I expect angry emails, posts, further attacks on how "anti-yogi" I am. It might help to re-read the disclaimer at this point.*
3. Drink all day. Lots. Stay fully hydrated. Then (drum-roll, please) leave the water bottle in the locker room.
Yup, I said it. You don't need to bring water in the room with you. I've been doing it for over a year with the exceptions of when I visit studios. (When visiting other studios my policy is always, "When in Rome...") Before you start writing that comment, hear me out. The issues I had with the water bottle are two-fold. With the water there, it became my focus. If I was feeling dizzy, tired, warm (heck, I came up with negative feelings so I could grab the water), I would take a drink. That meant taking focus away from the breathing. Sometimes, that made it worse. I would take a drink (which, by the way, stops you from breathing) focus on how much better that felt, drawing attention to how awful I felt before. This would become circular and I would send myself into a mini-panic.
The second reason is far simpler. There were certain postures I would drink after. Usually, the savasana between the standing and floor series was a guzzler. It is here you should start to see my issue. I would then flip over onto my belly, compressing all that water sloshing around. Instead of spending the first 45 minutes of class processing water out of my gut, I had spent 45 minutes filling it. And now I was laying on it. In a minute I would be stretching it, pulling it and rolling it back and forth. UGH.
So there you go, take it or leave it. If you want to baby-step it (a sensible solution) you can take your water in and not drink out of it for a week before leaving it in the locker room.
* See, down here it looks official. I am not a yoga instructor. I don't claim to have the only, or the right, way to do things. I only know what I have tried and what works for me. Everyone is different. I am not claiming superior knowledge to yours. If your method works for you, awesome, keep it up. Like my momma always said, if it 'aint broke, don't fix it... wait, no she didn't. She had me as a child, she said, "It wasn't broke, then you touched it. Now, fix it."