I have been taking some hot yoga classes lately, as mentioned in my Fitness Challenge posts. I like doing hot yoga because its a challenge, and I feel very refreshed after the class is over. Some people call it “cruel and unusual punishment,” and in a sense I completely agree. It pushes your body to very uncomfortable extremes, and its honestly painful. I personally like it for those reasons (not really the painful part), but also because it oddly relaxes your body at the same time.
If you’re interested in giving hot yoga (or hot flow, bikram, etc.) a try, then remember these 7 tips for before, during & after the class:
How To Survive Hot Yoga
Its important to drink a lot of water before you take a hot yoga class of any kind. I made the mistake once of going to a fairly challenging hot flow class after a day of not drinking much water at all, and I nearly passed out and/or vomited during the class (sorry if that grossed you out, but its true). It’s also important to take a water bottle into the class with you so that you can take a few sporadic sips throughout the class as well.
Stand by the door.
This one is especially important if you’re new to hot yoga. Standing by the door not only provides you with a quick escape if needed, but during the class (hot yoga only, not bikram), the teacher often opens the door to regulate the temperature. This will provide you with a few moments of fresh air which may help you to continue with the class if you’re feeling unwell. Since I’ve just started getting back into exercise on a regular basis again, when I take my hot yoga classes, I like to stand by the door to catch the breeze every time the door is opened. It may seem a bit trivial, but trust me, it’ll be worth it.
Wear the right clothes.
For a class where you are performing physically difficult postures in 85-95 degrees fahrenheit (30-35 degrees celsius), you will sweat… a lot. I would definitely suggest wearing minimal clothing that is sweat wicking. You want to stay away from wearing anything cotton because that’s going to completely soak through as soon as you walk in the room and then it will feel really heavy on your skin throughout the class. I would recommend an outfit of this nature: Shorts & Sports Bra OR Capris & Tank Top.
Listen to your body.
This tip is important for all yoga or fitness classes. If you’re body is hurting in the wrong way (ie. any kind of sharp pain, if you feel nauseated, feeling faint, etc.) then you should definitely stop what you’re doing and take a moment of rest. With yoga in particular, two poses I would recommend going to if you’re feeling that its too much are downward dog & child’s pose. These poses will keep your body still engaged while allowing it to rest for a bit. Test it out and see which of those two poses feel right in the moment. For me, I like to revert to downward dog in hot yoga if I’m feeling unwell because it allows for more airflow to my face. Child’s pose is a good pose to go to if you are feeling a bit nauseated and also if you take the pose with your knees slightly apart.
At minimum, bring one large towel to put on your mat and one small towel for drying yourself. If you’re going to use the studio’s showers to rinse yourself off, then I’d suggest bringing a clean towel (one that hasn’t been in the class with you & that’s not already covered in your sweat) for that as well. Its good to have something absorbent to go over your yoga mat so that you don’t slip while you’re in the poses (sweaty hands & feet), and its good to have a smaller towel to wipe the sweat off your face periodically.
Bring your own mat.
Most yoga studios provide their own mats that you’re free to use, but I personally like to bring my own mat, especially for hot yoga. If you haven’t already grasped this concept from reading the rest of the post, hot yoga will make you sweat… a lot. Obviously, that sweat will drip onto your yoga mat as you’re doing the class. Get where I’m going here? Its a bit gross using a “public” yoga mat, even if they do get cleaned. I’d rather do the class on a mat covered in my own germs over someone else’s.
Bring a change of clothes for afterwards.
For some people, this one may have been obvious, but for me it wasn’t. I went into my first bikram class with only the clothes that I was wearing, my yoga mat & a water bottle. Seriously, what was I thinking? I was completely drenched afterwards, and if I hadn’t taken my shirt off and done the class in my sports bra, I would have had to travel back home after the class in a completely soaked outfit. Head to toe, you will be completely wet during and certainly after the class, so don’t forget to bring a change of clothes & a change of underwear. Nothing is more uncomfortable than sitting on the bus, train or in your car going back home in completely wet clothing. If you skip this step, you’ll go from hot yoga to cold bum in a matter of minutes. Not fun times.
Final Thoughts: Although hot yoga is challenging, it really does provide a lot of benefits. Sweating that much allows for detoxification, more of a cardiovascular workout, and it warms up your muscles very quickly. It also helps you to become more flexible if you do hot yoga on a regular basis, which is something that I’ve lost since I’ve stopped dancing. The heat also helps improve your breathing and relax your body. *DISCLAIMER* You should really know your limits before trying a class of this nature. Even though you may feel more flexible during this class (and you will), that does not mean that you should surpass your limits and overdo it. That could cause you to overstretch your muscles causing serious injury. Personally, I enjoy the classes, and I would recommend giving it a try if it sounds like something you’d like as well. Its a really intense workout, and it allows you to really push and challenge yourself.
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