Monday, July 26, 2010

The balancing series

Last week I was feeling really bad. I thought a flu was coming on as I had several of the classic symptoms: nausea, sore muscles, cramping, headache. But it somehow felt different. Like I was off balance. And Bikram Yoga, which usually cures all my ailments, was actually making me feel worse. Halfway through class I'd get dizzy and nauseous and my feet, hands, and calf muscles would start cramping. By the end of class, I'd have a pounding headache and my muscles would spasm for hours after. I was also highly irritable and was having trouble concentrating and focusing on simple tasks.

After a few days of this, I hopped onto Google and started doing some research. All the symptoms I was experiencing pointed to one thing: an electrolyte imbalance.

The condition is not uncommon among Bikram Yoga enthusiasts, as we lose excessive amounts of fluid during class. But I wasn't dehydrated: I typically drink 2.5 litres of water before I practice, a litre during, and another litre after. Plus I take an Emergen-C after each class and often treat myself to a coconut or vitamin water. So no dehydration issues. Quite the contrary: All that water combined with all that sweating was flushing out the minerals my body needs to maintain balance; hence, the imbalance.

As I'm heading out to San Diego in September for Teacher Training, I was particularly motivated to find a solution… and fast! Some people recommended adding sea salt and lemon to my water, others told me to eat bananas (which I loathe) and other potassium-rich foods. I didn't think any of these were viable options for training. I mean I was symptomatic doing one class a day -- what would happen when I was doing doubles five days a week?

I paid a visit to my local health food shop and purchased a bottle of Essential Electrolytes. A Bikram Yoga Teacher Trainee before me had mentioned taking these during training and never falling ill. So I figured I had nothing to lose.

The bottle says to take one to three pills before and after “athletic or strenuous activity,” which I did that very day. The Bikram class that followed was a dream! I was full of energy, my head was clear, and no cramping or spasms during or after class. The next day I did a double -- both classes were a pure joy.

I think I've been suffering from an electrolyte imbalance for a while, but have just come to view my symptoms as the new normal. Sometimes when you feel bad for so long, you become numb to it and accept it as part of life.

I've found my solution to help me get through Teacher Training, well a part of it anyway. If only there was a pill I could take to help me memorize the dialogue!


  1. I have the same problem and I have done some research for the training. Check out this article

    These are used by runners and triathletes.

    I'm going with Nuun

    Hope this helps!

  2. hahaha :) the dialogue pill! Love it.

    Yes, the cramping sensation really means you're imbalanced so watch out at training. YOu'll be prone to it and once it kicks in it's doubly hard to pull yourself out of it cause the classes keep coming.

    So... I used ultima lemonade mix and added trace minerals to one water bottle, the other was just water. Every class I drank both (either during or most often afterwards.)

    Good luck!

  3. OMG. I think you may have become my new favorite person and best friend. I have struggled with the side stitches for MONTHS.
    I went to my local organic store and picked up that bottle of Essential Electrolytes... Amazing. Simply amazing. My ability to go as deep as I possibly could in Half Moon was incredible.
    JHS-Thank you so much for blogging this. You have helped change my practice.

  4. Thanks Lacey! Glad I could help. The pills are a great option.

    Anna/Joe: Thanks for the other recommendations. Going to check them out for sure!