It's Getting Hot In Here: Tips on How to Make It Through Your First Heated Yoga Class.
For the longest time, I avoided going to hot yoga classes. When asked, my main response was "Ummm...I'm not trying to die from heat exhaustion!" I had this huge misconception of what hot yoga was: Unbearable, uncomfortable and unnecessary. If I wanted to do that I could practice at the park and soak in all of Houston's summer heat. I couldn't wrap my head around why someone would want to practice in those types of conditions.
Prior to me trying heated yoga, I've either practiced at home or at a non heated studio. It wasn't until 2017 that I went to my first heated yoga class and was immediately hooked (Shout out to Black Swan Yoga for bringing me over to the dark side lol). The more I looked into heated classes, the more I realized there was a difference between hot and warm. Warm classes ( like the ones I take now) are typically 90 degrees. Hot yoga is more like 100 degrees or more. Usually when people think of hot yoga, their first thought goes directly to Bikram, a yoga practice where the room is set to 105 degrees with 40% humidity. I won't get into Bikram considering all of the shitty things the founder, Bikram Choudhury, has done but just had to give some background about the different levels of warm/hot yoga.
Also, there are some benefits that come along with doing your practice in a heated space that you may not get in a non-heated practice:
- Detoxification: When you sweat, your body releases toxins. During heated yoga, this process is accelerated quicker and helps eliminate impurities.
- More range of movement: Your muscles and connective tissue become more elastic and will help you to go deeper into a yoga pose. The body becomes more flexible with less chance of injury.
- Better mental focus and awareness: Due to the heat, you become more aware of your body, your breath and the postures you are in.
- Weight loss: If you are looking to yoga as more of a physical practice/workout, heated yoga can not only increase your flexibility but can help you lose weight.
Okay so you've read all of this and now you're pumped to try out a heated yoga class (at least I hope you are!) Here are some tips that I wish someone would have told me before I went to a heated yoga class:
1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate - Drink plenty of water BEFORE you attend a heated yoga class. In fact, I would suggest drinking a lot of water the day before attending the class. You are going to sweat a lot. Also, make sure to bring a bottle of water with you. I like to bring one of those insulated bottles so it keeps my water cool during my practice.
2. Get there early - Try to get to the class 10 -15 minutes early so your body can get acclimated to the space and the temperature.
3. Avoid eating right before class - Try to eat at least two hours before a hot yoga class to avoid feeling nauseated. Your body needs the energy but eating something heavy right before class may make you sick. If you have to get something in your system, try eating something light like fruit or nuts.
4. Wear breathable, comfortable clothing - Depending on the style of yoga, in addition to you being in a hot room, you may be moving around extensively. Wear comfortable clothing that will soak up the sweat and keep you cool.
5. Bring a towel - Sometimes the sweat will get in your eyes! Bring a towel to wipe off.
6. A non slip mat will be your best friend - Buy a sturdy mat that has some grip. I remember the first time I brought my regular, degular mat and I was slipping and sliding all over the place! At the time I could not afford a high end mat, so as an alternative I bought a yoga sweat towel and placed it over my mat. Best $20 bucks I've ever spent :)
7. Take breaks - Listen to your body! If you are getting too hot, come into child's pose or another restorative, resting posture of your choice. You do not have to power through the class if you are uncomfortable. I've been going to hot yoga classes for two years now and I will still hit a child's pose in the middle of a sequence if my body needs it.
Heated yoga isn't for everyone, but if you like an additional layer added to your practice, I would say definitely check it out. Like I said, I wasn't a warm yoga believer until I actually tried it for myself. Today I prefer heated spaces over non-heated spaces, which is something I would have never imagined. All you have to do is get out of your comfort zone and try it. You may surprise yourself and get addicted like me :)
Have any additional tips to survive a heated yoga class? Let me know!