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Monday, 15 July 2013

Ashtanga and Sweat : Avoiding TOO sweaty an Ashtanga practice

A strategy for approaching Ashtanga practice for Kidney stone formers. But perhaps not JUST for Kidney stone formers

Kidney Stone Risk Greatly Increases in Summer Months
Should only Kidney stone forming Ashtangi's be concerned?
What should you drink and how much?
Why did I form kidney stones...again ?
Is this what's caused my Kidney stone formation this time, my sweaty Ashtanga practice?
Ashtangi's we love to sweat, it's part of the practice, no. No?
Does sweating remove toxins from the body?
My sweaty Ashtanga practice
My LESS sweaty Ashtanga practice
Hydrate more
A strategy for approaching Ashtanga practice for Kidney stone formers, but perhaps not just for Kidney stone formers

*Apologies in advance to the cut and paste nature of this post, I can't currently sit up for more than half an hour at a time (was ten minutes at one point) and have stitched this together over the weekend, apologies too if I don't respond to any comments right away. I'm doing so much reading and thinking on this topic while I'm stuck in bed that I wanted to post it while it's fresh in my mind.

*this is just a blog remember, not a medical journal and I'm an enquiring Ashtanga Vinyasa practitioner not a teacher
Magnified calcium oxalate stone
"Kidney Stone Risk Greatly Increases in Summer Months
INDIANAPOLIS – “I’m sweating like a pig!”  We have all made that comment at some point in our lives and summer is the season of sweat.  BUT, for folks with kidney stones, “sweat” spells “dehydration”.   Dehydration affects urine output, which is a problem for kidney stone formers.

Now, urine isn’t usually a topic of proper social conversation, but for those who form urinary stones, it’s a critical concept.  When the body is dehydrated, the kidneys conserve water by making urine that is concentrated, and concentrated urine sets up a cascade for stone crystal formation. 

According to Dr. James Lingeman, co-director of the International Kidney Stone Institute, “The focus in stone prevention is not the amount of fluid consumed, but rather the amount of urine produced.  In the summer months, extra intake is necessary to counteract the season’s dehydrating effects.  I tell patients they should never pass up a drinking fountain!” The International Kidney Stone Institute

After practice
Should only Kidney stone forming Ashtangi's be concerned? 
This is a general health issue, Weigh  yourself directly before practice then again afterwards to see the quantity of fluid you have lost through sweating. When you pass urine following your practice, consider the quantity, the colour, particularly in the morning but also throughout the day. 

"What should you drink and how much?
It is probably the volume of fluid drunk that is important and water is of coarse cheap and safe. The aim is to drink sufficient fluid to ensure that your urine is dilute and therefore less likely to allow crystallization of a stone. Whether your local mains water is hard or soft does not influence you risk of further stones. Clearly it is difficult to determine exactly how much fluid one should drink to meet the required urine output. A useful rule of thumb is the colour of the urine. You should aim for a very light coloured or nearly clear urine (champagne coloured) at all times throughout the day and any darkening (towards the colour of lucozade) should be a trigger for you to drink more fluid. Be particularly careful in situations where you may become dehydrated i.e. exercise, hot weather, long flights, in air-conditioned rooms, hot offices and factories".


not so good


When you have, or rather form, Kidney stones the doctors ask you to try to catch the stone as it eventually comes out (a tea strainers works well, fits in the pocket, and you can take it anywhere), they want to test the stone to see what variety it is, it's make up. My stones tend to be calcium oxalate. Then they give you a list of things you should limit or cut out of your diet altogether.

See this even more detailed breakdown of The Oxalate Content of Food (Thank-you Chiara) if you happen to have stones of the Calcium oxalate variety

Rhubarb: The first time I had kidney stones was ten years or so ago, it was probably due to Rhubarb. We were surprised to find we had some growing in the garden of the house we were renting. Rhubarb reminded me of my childhood, I ate a lot of it that summer. Rhubarb is turns out is HIGH in oxalate.

Spinach was probably on the list they gave me after that first time but I was a meat eater then and not a fan of anything green, I probably didn't even register it.

A few years later I discovered Ashtanga, became a vegetarian and when green smoothies became the rage I jumped on the band waggon, those with spinach in where my favourite. I was having a green smoothie with spinach every day. Go, healthy me!

Spinach too however is HIGH in oxalate 

The excess of spinach was probably the cause of my second kidney stones experience.

But what caused me to form kidney stones this time? 

I've been relatively mindful of what was on the list, avoided spinach and rhubarb obviously....God, just noticed eggplant is on the list, bugger, love aubergines. Still, I haven't gone overboard on them recently or anything else on the list. If you ever have Kidney stones you DON'T want to have them again certainly not a third or indeed a fourth time.

So I've been doing some googling and came across an article on the connection between Kidney stones and sweating, I've quoted from it at the top of the post and included the article at the bottom of the post. 

Is this what's caused my Kidney stone formation this time, my sweaty Ashtanga practice?

Ashtangi's we love to sweat, it's part of the practice, no. No?

"Tapas means to burn, it is the purification on a physical level due to the heat created by the asana practice, through the sweat we remove the impurities. Tapas can also be translated as discipline which should give a sense of calmness, of smoothness in the body and in the sense's organs, but if we are too rigid, too obsessed, it can turn up in a "pathological disturbance".

"In Ashtanga, we sweat a lot. Following the vinyasa system, we jump back and forth between postures and between sides. That creates a lot of heat. And then there’s the internal heat that we create with our breath. By controlling the inhalation and exhalation while we practice, making them long and even, we fan our internal, metabolic fire.
Guruji said that when we create this internal heat with our practice, we “boil the blood.” When the blood boils it becomes thin, allowing it to circulate more freely around the joints and to cleanse our organs".

"Sharath started out by talking about the journey of Ashtanga Yoga. He said “When we start practicing in the beginning we don’t have much flexibility, body is tight, then you keep practicing and your body gets more flexible, smooth, light.” In the Hatha Yoga Pradipika is states that “When we are working out, by putting effort into the asana we get sweat out. Means you have to work hard in asana, sweat will come out. That sweat has good and bad qualities in it. Rub the sweat back into your body and it will become light. Poisons are leaving the body.” Gurui would often talk about leaving the sweat on your body. Sharath added that for face it’s ok to take it off, the sweat runs into your eyes and you can’t see. I also remember once that Guruji said that the type of sweat that comes when it’s really hot outside and you sweat while walking down the street is not of much use and you can just take that off."

"By working the asanas, by putting forth effort, many of the inside poisons and toxins come out and the body is purified.  We should rub our sweat into the skin, not off of the body.  He (Sharath) said some asanas are slippery and we might have a towel but not to use a towel too often to wipe sweat.  The sweat created from practice is not “easy” sweat, meaning sweat created by heating the room like in hot yoga.  The sweat we create through our efforts is beneficial if rubbed back into the skin. 

Ashtanga yoga
Ashtanga yoga is a system of yoga transmitted to the modern world by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois (1915-2009). This method of yoga involves synchronizing the breath with a progressive series of postures—a process producing intense internal heat and a profuse, purifying sweat that detoxifies muscles and organs. The result is improved circulation, a light and strong body, and a calm mind.

When did sweating become such a seemingly big part of our asana practice, it appears to be encouraged (see above) or is that a misunderstanding, a misreading, the only reference to sweat in Krshnamacharya's Yoga Makaranda (1934) is this on page thirty-four

"After completing their yoga practice consisting of asana and pranayama, the yoga practitioner must rest for fifteen minutes keeping the body on the floor before coming outside. If you come outdoors soon after completing yogabhyasa, the breeze will enter the body through the minute pores on the skin and cause many kinds of disease. Therefore, one should stay inside until the sweat subsides, rub the body nicely and sit contentedly and rest for a short period". Yoga Makaranda p34 Krishnamacharya

Some sweating is expected perhaps from a vinyasa practice but should it be a goal of practice or rather something to balance, to regulate.

I sweat a lot, my wife who's Japanese Korean rarely sweats. I tended to need to practice my Ashtanga on a thick microfiber yoga towel, my wife could get away with practicing on a Kleenex (and not the mansize ones either). Is she doing something wrong, am I ?

I'm not suggestion we shouldn't sweat at all during our practice, a healthy glow, a sheen, is one thing, towel ringing and sodden shorts something else altogether. Some of us naturally sweat more than others, that may be natural for us and nothing to apologise for, but perhaps we do need to consider our practice and limit where possible the conditions that cause us to sweat excessively even for us and to ensure that we take on sufficient fluids to ensure the production of sufficient urine to keep our kidneys and thus our bodies healthy.

To reiterate...

The focus... is not the amount of fluid consumed, but rather the amount of urine produced".

See also this site that questions the extent of the role of oxalate in diet in the formation of Kidney Stones and raises the question of and the importance of water intake.

Oxalates and kidney stones
"The formation of kidney stones containing oxalate is an area of controversy in clinical nutrition with respect to dietary restriction of oxalate. About 80% of kidney stones formed by adults in the U.S. are calcium oxalate stones. It is not clear from the research, however, that restriction of dietary oxalate helps prevent formation of calcium oxalate stones in individuals who have previously formed such stones. Since intake of dietary oxalate accounts for only 10-15% of the oxalate that is found in the urine of individuals who form calcium oxalate stones, many researchers believe that dietary restriction cannot significantly reduce risk of stone formation.

In addition to the above observation, recent research studies have shown that intake of protein, calcium, and water influence calcium oxalate affect stone formation as much as, or more than intake of oxalate. Finally, some foods that have traditionally been assumed to increase stone formation because of their oxalate content (like black tea) actually appear in more recent research to have a preventive effect. For all of the above reasons, when healthcare providers recommend restriction of dietary oxalates to prevent calcium oxalate stone formation in individuals who have previously formed stones, they often suggest "limiting" or "reducing" oxalate intake rather than setting a specific milligram amount that should not be exceeded. "Reduce as much as can be tolerated" is another way that recommendations are often stated".

Does sweating remove toxins from the body?

Did you know your body has its own air conditioning system when it becomes too hot? It’s called sweating. Your body releases water on your skin, which then evaporates in order to cool down to the normal temperature of 98.6 degrees.

Sweat is 99% water combined with a small amount of salt, proteins, carbohydrates and urea, says UAMS family medicine physician Dr. Charles Smith. Therefore, sweat is not made up of toxins from your body, and the belief that sweat can cleanse the body is a myth.

“You cannot sweat toxins out of the body,” Dr. Smith says. “Toxins such as mercury, alcohol and most drugs are eliminated by your liver, intestines or kidneys.”

Some people have even participated in something called a “sweat lodge.” Some Native American cultures still use the lodge as a very important purification ceremony. However, Dr. Smith warns that these can become dangerous and sometimes result in injury or, in severe cases, death.  

“By forcing your body to perspire through heat exposure or heavy exercise, you can cause your kidneys to save water and actually hang on to any toxins that may be circulating in your system,” he says". University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

My sweaty Ashtanga practice
When I moved upstairs to the new home shala, I revelled in the warmer closed room. I started practising Ashtanga again, a hot sweaty Ashtanga practices where I would sweat one, one and a half, even as much as two kilo's in a practice, felt good after the practicing through winter in the draughty open plan room downstairs. Detox right? Although supposedly there's not much evidence to suggest sweat removes toxins from the body, that's the job of the kidney's, we get rid of toxins through the urine not the sweat glands.

After a week of seriously sweaty practices in the new home shala I did start to wonder if it was a bit much, googled around, looked at a lot of marathon runners sites, they take on liquid before, throughout and after their marathons.

In Ashtanga we are taught to avoid drinking during practice, we don't want to cool down that internal heat that we've worked so hard to create right, or lose focus, lose our concentration by taking a drink breaks.

I want to create some internal heat, I want to keep the muscles warm and flexible but do I need to be sweating like crazy, doesn't it suggest I'm overdoing it somewhat, that I have the balance wrong, am not regulating my practice sufficiently.... and do I (we) really need to practice in such hot rooms. In hot countries, in Mysore India for example , isn't the idea to practice at the coolest part of the day. 

My LESS sweaty Ashtanga practice
I changed my approach to practice, perhaps too late it seems for this stone. Rather than trying to sweat more I've sought to sweat less

  • Practice earlier
  • A cooler room
  • A slower practice
  • Breath more slowly, longer fuller inhalations and exhalations
  • Conserve energy, more delicate jump throughs and back (Sharath style), better movement of the body
  • A lighter ujjayi
  • More subtle use of bandhas
  • The occasional mini savasana where I begin to overheat
Any other suggestions?

Ramaswami would stress that Krishnamacharya instructed mini savasanas whenever the breathing or heartbeat would become a little fast. Perhaps we (kidney stone formers) should be taking them too if we begin to sweat TOO much

Hydrate more
I do still sweat quite a bit  during my Ashtanga practice and even though I practice my Ashtanga more slowly than most perhaps it's still a long practice and the weather is getting warmer. I'm going to sweat to some extent even when I take a more Vinyasa Krama approach to my Ashtanga. So I need to think about hydrating even more than I have been, before, after and yes perhaps ( as a last resort) during practice.

from the AYA2 House recommendations
"Water. Ashtangis need more than other people. We’re detoxing. Drink a ton. But not during practice. It’ll compromise your focus, cut the internal heat that fuels practice, and slosh around".

I've read good things recently about drinking a 16oz glass of water as soon as you get up in the morning, I've started doing that but perhaps I should aim for two glasses an hour or so before practice. And half hour an hour after practice start re hydrating as much as possible.

But what about the big taboo of drinking during practice. I have a tendency towards forming stones, should I perhaps modify the approach to practice here.

I could take a mouthful, just a mouthful after the standing sequence and a mini savasana but with a good focus on the breath and bandhas to not allow myself to cool too much, another mouthful and mini savasana after navasana say and again after badha konasana, another perhaps after Urdhva Dhanurasana (there used to be a mini savasana there anyway once upon a time) and finally a last mouthful at the end of the practice before taking rest.

Half an hour after practice I could start re hydrating as usual.

But doesn't this beg the question, why practice Ashtanga at all. Shouldn't I as a Kidney stone former, switch back to a lighter Vinyasa Krama practice, perhaps Ashtanga just isn't for me?

This surely suggests a fixed idea of what Ashtanga is, haven't we moved past the idea of Ashtanga as fixed and unchanging, unmodified asana practice.

In a Vinyasa Krama practice I still have to choose a number of subroutines to build up my practice. I do that but choose to keep that choice of asana relatively fixed, the Ashtanga sequence(s), I believe there are benefits to this. Vinyasa krama also includes, drishti (although the gaze tend usually to be down), ujjayi, bandhas. The breath though is long and slow in Vinyasa Krama but that is also how it was recommended by Krishnamacharya in his Mysore days and by Jois in Yoga Mala. Practicing slowly is still Ashtanga. Ramaswami recommends a mini savasana if we lose control of the breath or the heart begins to race but this too is in keeping with Ashtanga, the breath and heart beat should remain regular throughout our Ashtanga practice. I think it follows that if we become TOO hot, begin to sweat too much then we should perhaps consider a mini savasana also, just as we might with the breath or hearbeat or perhaps practice less asana altogether or modify some of those we have. Perhaps in the hot summer months we should practice half a series, spend longer on the finishing sequence on pranayama on chanting perhaps.

"Doing too many asanas
The first night of the workshop Manju told the group that the problem with the practice of yoga in the U.S. is that nobody pays attention to chanting or pranayama (breath control). “Everybody wants to sweat it out on the carpet,” he said. Here, as opposed to in India, he explained, yoga practice “is very physical, like being at a gym. But we have to suppress that mentality. We’re not in a gym here, we’re practicing yoga.” Ashtanga Yoga with Manju Jois - Elizabeth Kaufman Yoga Chicago

And besides I suspect, have a theory, that it's my Ashtanga Vinyasa practice that dislodged the stone from the wall of the kidney and encouraged it to move along it's merry way BEFORE it became too large and need surgical removal or an invasive procedure. Yoga asana practice, those tight marichi binds and supta kurmasana, the heel digging into the kidneys in yoga mudra, these are all ways Ramaswami, would I think argue, that the yogis found to massage the internal organs. I will be asking the specialist about this when I have my scan Wednesday.

So here's a few ideas, the beginning of a strategy. Many of these suggestions are already a part of my practice, these days I try conserving energy, I use Sharaths' delicate jump through for example, my ujjayi is subtle as are my use of bandhas....


A strategy for approaching Ashtanga practice for Kidney stone formers
(work in progress discussion welcomed)

But perhaps not just for Kidney stone formers

1.  Drink a glass perhaps even two of water half an hour to an hour before practice

2.  A cooler practice room

3.  A more subtle Ujjayi

4.  A more subtle engagement of bandhas

5.  A slower approach to the practice in general, long slow inhalation and exhalations

6.  Aim to conserve energy throughout, a more subtle jump back and through or perhaps not between each side of an asana

7.  Take mini savasanas

8. Consider a shorter practice in the hot summer months, more time spent on the finishing sequence.

9. Half hour after practice begin to rehydrate ( weigh yourself before and after practice to work out how much you have lost in sweat).

An for kidney stone formers only perhaps

10.  Drink water during practice* - if your still concerned about sweating too much 

      a. Take a mouthful of water, just a mouthful after the standing sequence followed by a mini savasana but with a good focus on the breath and bandhas to not allow myself to cool too much,

      b. another mouthful and mini savasana after navasana

      c. another after badha konasana,

      d. another perhaps after Urdhva Dhanurasana (there used to be a mini savasana there anyway once upon a time)

      e. another mouthful at the end of the practice before taking rest.

*rather than just grabbing your bottle of water and losing focus, come to formal dadasana, take your mouthful of water, lay back in savasana for five to ten breaths, chakrasana back into where you left off.


The International Kidney Stone Institute

INDIANAPOLIS – “I’m sweating like a pig!”  We have all made that comment at some point in our lives and summer is the season of sweat.  BUT, for folks with kidney stones, “sweat” spells “dehydration”.   Dehydration affects urine output, which is a problem for kidney stone formers.

Now, urine isn’t usually a topic of proper social conversation, but for those who form urinary stones, it’s a critical concept.  When the body is dehydrated, the kidneys conserve water by making urine that is concentrated, and concentrated urine sets up a cascade for stone crystal formation.

According to Dr. James Lingeman, co-director of the International Kidney Stone Institute, “The focus in stone prevention is not the amount of fluid consumed, but rather the amount of urine produced.  In the summer months, extra intake is necessary to counteract the season’s dehydrating effects.  I tell patients they should never pass up a drinking fountain!”

The essential concepts of stone formation are as follows:  stone crystals form in the urine only in the presence of particular molecules in enough quantity and concentration to allow chemical union.  As Dr. Lingeman quips, “Crystals love one another and they seek togetherness.” The essentials of stone prevention, therefore, are to reduce either the quantity or the concentration (through dilution) of those molecules.

For the ten percent of Americans who will have a kidney stone at least once in their lifetime, the pain of the stone is a poignant memory.  In the acute or immediate sense, stones can cause severe pain, nausea and vomiting, blood in the urine and infection.  If left untreated, kidney stones can result in failure of one or both kidneys.

There are several types of stones, and people form them for various reasons.  Many patients understandably want to know why they form stones.  The metabolic issues are quite complex, but there are a number of universal steps patients can take to prevent stone formation.

Increase urine OUTPUT Remember that perspiration decreases urine volume. What is important here is to maintain a high urine output despite loss of fluid through sweating. Pale, clear urine 24 hours per day, seven days per week is the goal. The volume of urine should exceed 2 liters in twenty four hours. Water is the best liquid, but fruit juices are acceptable. Try to limit beverages high in caffeine or calories, and watch out for high sodium sports drinks.
Limit salt and sodium intake Salt drives extra calcium into the urine, which increases risk of calcium stone formation.
Limit animal protein intake High animal protein intake is associated with an increased risk of both calcium and uric acid stone formation. Experts recommend limiting meat protein intake to twelve ounces per day. This is plenty to meet the needs of healthy adults.
Consume calcium rich foods to meet the FDAs Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) It is a common misconception that patients who form calcium stones need to avoid dairy products. Current research supports consuming a normal amount of calcium in the diet for nearly all patients who form stones.
In the summer months, the most important of these recommendations is the first:  increase urine output.  By increasing fluid intake in the summer months, the effects of dehydration can be minimized.   Drink more fluids?  No sweat!

About IKSI
The International Kidney Stone Institute is a charitable organisation dedicated to supporting clinical and basic science research and education for the detection, management and prevention of kidney stone disease.



  1. After practice i like to drink a couple of cup with water and a bit of lemon and if you like add a bit of honey/sugar. I found this very useful for the summer, before that for sweat a lot sometimes my muscles "jump" doctor said me that i must to hydrate in this way after swear a lot. I've never had kidney stone, but my mother, grandmother and grandfather yeas and i saw that is very painful. I've trie to drink a lot of water during the day. I've remember thar A. Gary Lopedota said me that water is the best food for a yogi.

    1. Thank you Toni, yes Claudio mentioned drinking a lot of water with lime juice when he had kidney stones. think I'll add some lemon or lime to mine post practice also.

  2. And avoid eating too many tomatoes!
    although from the list I sent you it looks like you should live on air... so I guess moderation is key here.

    I consider myself lucky in that I do not sweat very much in general.
    During asana practice, as I wrote when I posted my workshop report, I try to keep my ujjayi long and quiet and end with basically no sweat even the rare times when I do Primary (not practicing ashtanga vinyasa regularly, you'd imagine I should be soaking by the end).
    I take small rests if I need to, try not to get tangled up in a sort of competition with myself.

    Sweat is a main thermoregulatory mechanism for our our body, toxins are removed mostly through the gut and the kidneys.
    Yes, perhaps in both the process of sweating and breathing some metabolic product are excreted but relatively little stuff unless of course you have a disease or have eaten too much onions, garlic and - in my case ca 36 hours after I've had a curry - cumin, or if you are angry or tense. I think that that saying about the smell of fear has some very good physiological grounding.
    Off this tangent, this paper is interesting, old diagnostic methods are unfortunately less and less used, but I remember my father who was a doctor always smelling my breath when I was a kid...

    The only time I sweat is when I work in the garden under the sun, I get very thirsty then (only time really that I feel thirsty) and I noticed that as soon as I drink I sweat profusely. So I think the thirst is the way my body uses to prompt me to do something to lower temperature.
    Otherwise, I tend to look at the colour of my urine to decide whether I should drink more.
    Also I think I have read somewhere that producing too much urine is also not such a brilliant idea since it will eventually put constant strain in the bladder muscles.

    Tony above suggested lemon in water. I completely agree, actually I think it is good also for your oxalate problem. I tend to drink hot water with lemon first thing in the morning, especially in winter, helps with keeping off colds as well as helping your body to restart its internal movements.

    1. An Italian recommending the avoidance of tomatoes, now there's a first. M. did some research on this and found it's not so much just avoiding a particular food but balancing them. Something about oxelate and calcium balancing each other out. Black tea is supposed to be bad but with a little milk perhaps not so bad. Aubergine is on the list but in the Greek Moussaka there's cheese so again balanced out, and is there any Italian dish that has tomatoes without cheese floating around somewhere.

      But yes, cutting out perhaps the worst offenders, balancing the others, paying attention to one's urine production which may well mean not seeking to sweat more than necessary, a more regulated, balanced practice.

      thank you Chiara, as always.

    2. haha I know... luckily I do not seem to have this problem but an Italian friend suffering from oxalate kidney stones was really depressed at these news.
      As for the calcium... I think I was perplexed at the time of your previous kidney stone and even made a comment on that, but I have since read that the idea is that calcium and oxalate will then stick together OUTSIDE your kidneys so stones will be less likely. Not completely convinced, but there you go!
      As for tomato dishes without cheese haha again, there's plenty of choice in case you wanted to dare.
      First of all you are not supposed to put cheese on sauces like arrabbiata (tomato garlic and chili peppers)
      Then pappa al pomodoro, a Tuscan recipe which uses left-over stale bread, has no tomato in is as far as I know.
      Ditto for panzanella, a Tuscan stale bread salad where you soak the old bread in vinegar and water, then squeeze it and season with oil onions cucumbers.
      Not to mention bruschetta of course.

      And... you could always have a Bloody Mary although I do not think that is strictly Italian nor very yogic.

      Take care!

    3. Yes and Pangritata, better than the real thing occasionally

  3. Well, I always thought we sweat primarily to cool down, with extretion of toxins as a minor role. But some people swear by saunas, and its funny that after a night on the ale I will sweat more, so it must be doing something.

    A couple of other things to add to your list:
    Cut down on the number of sun salutations and jump backs
    Try sitali for cool down (according to Gregor Maehle) - Gregor also suggests cutting down on rapid breathing (kapalbhathi/bhastrika) in the summer

    For comparison with your list, in bikram yoga, sipping water is permitted and there are lots of mini savasanas between poses. I personally don't drink during practice and have trained myself to go without water for the 2 hours or so, after a teacher once told me off for drinking during class (they said I didn't want lots of water sloshing around). Maybe I should reconsider as I don't fancy weeing out stones. I don't think I sweat too much during yoga, I have the window open and don't have heating on in the room and start quite early (before 6am). Certain asana seem to push the sweat out though e.g. tittibasana and pincha mayurasana.

    Another thing to consider is: yoga comes from India, where as I (and possibly yourself) are of North European heritage. Not so hot in Rishikesh in December though!

    1. It's true we do feel good after a sauna and better after exercise and sweating out a heavy night. I feel great after a hot sweaty Ashtanga practice but it's not necessarily the visible sign, the sweat, but rather the increased blood flow from the exercise that makes the liver work more effectively in breaking down the toxins.

      Yes, I too cut down the sun salutations, less in summer, a the full ten practiced little faster in winter. Good reminder about sitali Rob.

      When I mentioned drinking during practice fr those with a tendency to forming kidney stones, I was still only suggesting a few mouthfuls spread throughout the practice. Just an idea, need to explore that myself when I'm better.

      And of course the story goes Krishnamacharya brought the vinyasa approach down from the Himalayas

      Thanks for commenting Rob

  4. Hi Anthony, if I may, I'll add my contribution to this article.
    Like you I have had kidney stones for 10 years (I'm also 50) and I have had 3 episodes over time. When I had the first two I wasn't practicing Ashtanga. I had the last one last year. During that period, as I also have calcium oxalate type stones, I have reviewed thoroughly my diet and made numerous adjustments. Let me tell you my conclusions from experience:

    - Even if you're very careful with diet and oxalate rich food, it is likely that your metabolism has a predisposition for forming these stones, hence it will likely happen again. (it often has genetic origins, my Dad had them). Being vegetarian means eating many of these oxalate rich products
    The right thing to do in my experience is not to ban foods but limit your intake by having a very varied diet. Kill habits and eat things different everyday. A small dose of everything is better.

    - The problem is not the practice and sweating. I now live in Mexico and lose 4 pints of fluid each time. I had stones before I practiced ashtanga. The problem is your overall fluid intake during a 24 hour period. I drink water in the morning, never during practice, loads after and ensure a regular intake during the day and even at night. Keep the kidney functioning. Sweating is absolutely fine, just make sure your replace the electrolytes lost (minerals), avoid alcohol and caffeine. I had a kidney stone lately at a time when I was practicing lightly and irregularly; during 4 months of daily practice in India, nothing at all, fit as a fiddle (I started at 4 am and only drank a coconut 3 hours later...)
    - Accept the fact that you will probably have more episodes over time, until you metabolism changes. By having a varied diet and drinking a lot and being fit and not overweight (noticed how you get a stone when you've put on weight?), you reduce the frequency and the size of the stones. I also drink lime juice everyday which tends to help to prevent stone formation.
    So, in short, don't get too focused on diet or on sweat, just stay healthy and drink plenty and don't think too much about it...
    Good luck with the scan.

  5. Thanks for this summary Keni. I think I've come to similar conclusions, that it's not one thing but an overall balanced approach to stone prevention or at least the limiting of risk. Not just cutting out something but limiting certain high risk foods and if you occasionally indulge, balancing them with calcium, the tomatoes with cheese for example, tea with milk. Drinking more liquids regularly ( I take on board what you say here about spreading that throughout the day) but also not sweating for the sake of it, sometimes it can't be helped.

    I think there has been that idea in Ashtanga circles that sweating is good, the more the better, sweating out all those toxins, impurities. But if it's true that it's not the sweat that rids us of toxins but our liver and kidneys and that these are made more effective in removing toxins through the increased blood flow from our asana practice along with the production of sufficient urine rather than losing that fluid through sweat before it reaches the kidneys then we can (should) perhaps throttle back a bit, practice a little slower and in a cooler room.

  6. I drink a couple of cups of water before practice, a liter of water right after, and lots of liquid during the day (including lemon water). So far this has prevented a kidney stone recurrence. Knock on wood.

  7. Thanks René, lots of mentions of lemon or lime juice coming in, nice too.

  8. These are excellent tips for those of us who overheat too. That would be me. I'm practicing at home this whole week because we're in a heatwave and the shala is impossibly hot. My face turns beet red and takes hours to return to normal. Not good. So I do as you suggest: shorter, more mellow practice in my cooler house.

    Also: my old teacher back in California used to tell the heavy sweaters in class to calm it down, that too much sweating is not good.

    Good luck with all of this, and may you be free from your unpleasant friend very soon!

    1. Thank you for this perspective Laura

      " old teacher back in California used to tell the heavy sweaters in class to calm it down, that too much sweating is not good".

      Just seems to make good common sense.

      Saw something in the post I put up today on mahamudra, in the instructions from Yoga makaranda II there is this...

      "For advanced trainees, who observe BRAHMACARYA, who live in a cool place and can have rich food, maximum of 32 rounds of breath can be done for each side, with control of breath for 5 seconds each round."

      "Who live in a cool place". Interesting

    2. Oh and the unpleasant friend seems to be on the move, must have dropped down a bit because I can sit up finally, more painful generally but on the move suggesting it's small enough to come out on it's own.


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A Reminder

from Kalama sutra, translation from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi This blog included.

"So, as I said, Kalamas: 'Don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, "This contemplative is our teacher." When you know for yourselves that, "These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering" — then you should abandon them.' Thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said.

"Now, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness' — then you should enter & remain in them. Buddha - Kalama Sutta
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