In many ways, finding good health and a sense of connections to ourselves is really a matter of developing good habits; slowly and steadily replacing non-health-promoting habits with new patterns that ultimately help us feel freer and more relaxed.
A bit over 15 years ago, when I first encountered Ayurveda (the healing system from India) I made my first conscious choice to incorporate a new habit into my daily life, and I have never looked back since.
Each morning, upon waking, I drink a tall glass or mug of warm water before I do anything else. It may sound strange, but this habit changed my life when I adopted it, and it is one of the first things I recommend to any student or client that I work with.
So just what are the benefits of drinking hot water in the morning?
Here are four reasons a glass of warm water can change your life:
- It helps you stay (correctly) hydrated.
Before I started this habit, I would often feel sort of hung-over in the morning. I would just get my day started and forget to drink much, the day would roll on and by the evening, I didn’t want to drink too much and risk having to get up to pee at night. I even had a friend who said she thought she was depressed until she realized she was just chronically dehydrated.
Many of us are pretty chronically over or under-hydrated. All of us have heard that we should drink “8-10” glasses of water a day. Unfortunately, this number is pretty arbitrary. The truth is that we should drink the right amount to keep our own, individual bodies hydrated.
Unfortunately, when we are out of touch with our body and its rhythms, we can often be confused when we are feeling thirst and when we are feeling hunger. Eating when your body really wants to drink makes this confusion even more profound.
Often when we eat, we may suddenly realize we are thirsty and drink a bunch alongside our meal—which dilutes our digestive juices.
Drinking a large glass of water first thing in the morning (at least 20-30 minutes before eating), allows our body the time to digest it (yes, even water has to be digested) before we have time to forget to drink. You end up more effectively hydrated, and your body-mind learns a good lesson about thirst vs. hunger.
- It helps get things moving.
When we are dehydrated, it can cause constipation. I once had a client who would routinely go for 2 WEEKS without pooping! She was so uncomfortable that she was constantly distracted and very unhappy.
When I encouraged her to start her day with a big mug o’ hot water it took her a bit of time to get used to it, but once she did, the benefit was obvious.
Drinking warm water in the morning flushes your system and stimulates your bowels to move—maybe even as well as a cup of coffee.
- It supports your digestion.
Ayurveda says that the warmth of cooked food and hot water contributes to your body’s internal fire which is responsible for maintaining your body temperature and the digestion of everything you take in. Cold food and drinks act like a damper on that internal fire. This is one reason why Ayurveda recommends almost never adding ice to your drinks.
- It’s medicinal.
Even without herbs, drinking boiled water while it is still warm is considered very medicinal by Ayurveda. It is said to be good for the throat, easily digested, and a great cleanse for the urinary bladder.
How to Start Your Day With Warm Water
So now that you’re convinced of the health benefits of drinking hot water, how do you get started?
Just boil your water first thing in the morning while you’re still groggy. Bring it to a full boil. If you have the time, let the water continue to boil for 10 minutes. You can boil enough for the whole day all at once and keep it in a covered container or jar.If you really want to give your water some oomph, consider some simple herbal additions.
A pinch of ginger powder in your morning glass of water enkindles your digestive fire and can be helpful for reducing dryness or sluggishness.
Cumin, Coriander and Fennel Seeds
Add about five seeds of each for every ½ cup of water you are boiling. Strain out the seeds before drinking. This blend is particularly good for stimulating digestion during gentle cleanses.