I know, I know. Yoga isn’t for everyone. So that means hot yoga might not be for everyone. But let me tell you why I love it.
I’m VERY MUCH not an expert yogi, and very much just a girl who happens to practice yoga a few times a week. But I love it. That’s what works for me. I’ve found that I enjoy yoga so much more when it’s a vinyasa class. I know most of the poses, and I easily get into my flow. What I enjoy even more than a typical vinyasa class is a hot yoga flow OR a hot power vinyasa.
Once you get used to the idea of being in a hot room (around 80-90 degrees), I think you’ll find that hot yoga has some additional benefits — think: detox and cleanse your body! PS: I’m not talking about Bikram (that’s probably my least favorite type of yoga).
Benefits of hot yoga
- Reduces stress
- Detoxifies your body
- Can aid with healthy weight loss
- Increases flexibility
- Strengthens your body
- Increases your heart rate
- Ups your lung capacity
- Good for your skin
- Prevents back pain (if done correctly!!!)
- Challenges your body and mind
It’s ok to be a hot yoga beginner
Whether you’ve just started practicing yoga or are finally ready to try a hot yoga class, I recommend sticking with an “all-levels” class. These are actually the classes I’m most comfortable in as well. Proper form and alignment is one of the MOST important parts of yoga — and it keeps you injury free! The more understanding you have of yoga, the poses, and how to modify poses/use props, the most comfortable you’ll feel in a hot yoga class.
Before the hot yoga class
While “prepping” for a class might seem so crazy, it’s pretty much just like any other work out!
- WATER, WATER, WATER. There is nothing worse than being dehydrated during a hot yoga class. Drinking a lot of fluids will only help your body get used to the temperature in the class.
- LAY OFF THE TACOS. Don’t eat 2 hours before class, especially if it’s your first class. When you’re full of indigested food in a hot yoga class, you MIIIIIIGHT not feel so great. If you NEED to eat something before a class, try a banana!
- GETTING DRESSED. I’ve seen it all in a hot yoga class. When it comes to getting dressed, I would leave the shorts in your drawer. I know what you’re thinking…if it’s a hot yoga class, why wouldn’t I wear shorts?! Well here’s the thing — you’re about to get SWEATY and DRIPPY. Leggings (or at least a pant that covers your knee) help prevent slipping. Trust me, you’ll be able to hold poses longer and will less effort in pants/leggings.
During the hot yoga class
When you step into the room, you might feel overwhelmed for a minute. For me, I legitimately start sweating ALMOST immediately. It’s important to breathe and continue to check in with your body. You might feel lightheaded, nauseous, or dizzy. While it’s cool to challenge yourself, taking a restoration pose (like Child’s Pose) will allow you to rest and readjust to the heat. And remember: take small sips of water even if you think you want to chug your entire gallon water bottle.
I think it’s always SO important to remind yourself that yoga is never a competition. I’ve found that no one REALLY cares about your practice when you’re in a group class. Take care of your body, recognize its strengths AND its limitations. Being so in tune with your body will allow yourself to be careful when it comes to overdoing it — which equals less injury. Another important thing to note is that even though your body might feel extra bendy and limber during hot yoga, you should still be careful when it comes to pushing yourself. A few weeks ago, I thought my hips were loose enough for full on Pigeon Pose…and turns out I strained my hip flexor (it was pretty painful for a couple of days).
Things you’ll need during class
There’s nothing worse than feeling unprepared in your hot yoga class. Here are the things I NEVER leave home without.
When you’re super thirsty or just need a break from hot yoga, the last thing you want is a sip of HOT WATER. I fill my Hydroflask with cold, cold, cold water before class and it stays that way even when you’re in the heated studio.
Yoga mats come in all shapes, sizes, and budgets. I personally swear by Manduka. I still am LOVING their GRP 4mm mat for hot yoga. The “lite” version is better for travel, and it is designed to have no-slip grips no matter how much you’re sweating. They use a charcoal-infused rubber technology to absorb sweat and eliminate odor. I also use this mat bag to bring my bag to and from class.
Slipping when you’re in a pose is scary and obviously dangerous. Even if you have a mat designed for hot yoga, you still need a full length hot yoga towel to help absorb the sweat dripping onto your mat. While there are some towels that have grips on the bottom, I don’t love the idea of spending $$$ on towels. I picked up a few of these hot yoga towels from Amazon and they definitely do the trick. Actually, I found the same brand has a sticky version for a few extra dollars, so I’m going to test those out too!
I also use a small microfiber hand towel. I leave it at the top of my mat and use it for my hands and arms when I’m feeling EXTRA sweaty. It’s also a necessity for when sweat gets into your eyes in the middle of Downward Dog;) I think I need to start wearing a headband to class to minimize this because there is NOTHING worse than sweat burning your eyes!
Usually the studio has blocks available, so I also highly recommend placing those at the front of your mat before class.
Things you’ll need after class
COOL, you just finished your hot yoga class!
I usually stay after Shavasana for a few more minutes to allow my heart rate to fall even more and get a few more stretches in before leaving the studio. Now I will say, the LAST thing you’re going to want to do is put clothes on, BUT it’s a must. I always bring sandals and an extra pair of clothes to change into for my walk home from the studio. Trust me, you’re going to want to do this — my clothes are literally DRIPPING after a hot yoga class. When it’s winter, you DEFINITELY need to make sure you’re bundling up or else you’ll allow your body to become prone to tightening up.
And just like before class, you need to DRINK, DRINK, DRINK. You lose SO much fluid during a hot yoga class, and you need to allow your body to recover immediately after. I like chugging water and picking up a green smoothie on the way home from class! Although I don’t like coconut water, a lot of teachers recommend drinking it after class!
And there you have it! My tips on taking and surviving a hot yoga class!