Some yogi’s hate it others love it, Hot Yoga. For myself I found it a nice addition to my practice. As it quite cold most of the year where I live, it is good way to get a sweat on and warm from the inside out even during the winter months. That said it really isn’t necessary to crank the heat up that much, if I have an intense practice at home, I will be sweating more than enough. In my experience hot yoga makes stretching (especially in the beginning of class) easier, as the muscles are already warm. Also the sweating helps with removing toxins in the body (for example the excess of salt you may had the day before).
Although I would like you to try hot yoga at least once, there are some things you should know,do or don’t do to keep it safe and reep the benefits from your class.
DO NOT DRINK OR EAT TO MUCH BEFORE OR DURING
When practising in the morning, I encourage you to hold the breakfast for after your practice and instead just have a small piece of fruit if you really need something. Eating to much before hand, can leave you feeling uncomfortable and even gassy or bloated during and after class. As for water, do not drink to much, as it might feel uncomfortable trying to twist and stretch with a full stomach and bladder. During class you are likely tempted to chug all the water in your bottle, however try to keep it to a few sips of water, as this wil quench your thirst more and won’t fill you up to much. Then after class…
DO DRINK PLENTY AFTER
You lose a lot of water during any workout, let alone during hot yoga. Immediately after yoga, drink as much as you desire and keep drinking water during the day to replenish. Any signs of dehydration can be muscle cramps, feeling lightheaded or uncoordinated.
If it is possible, before a yoga class, try to remove any oils, lotions or makeup from your skin. Not only will they make your skin even more slippery once you start sweating, but makeup will clog your pores during the workout. Also any smells, deodorant or perfume, can be quite overwhelming in heated, humid rooms.
USE A YOGA TOWEL
No this is not for wiping of your sweat during the class! Sweating is your body way of cooling down, wiping off this sweat will not only disrupt your practice but also encourages more sweat production. Instead put a yoga towel on your mat (a regular towel is fine as well), so the sweat can drip on the towel and help you get more grip when the yoga mat becomes to slippery from all the sweat.
DO NOT PUSH TOO HARD
In your first couple of hot yoga or Bikram yoga classes don’t overstretch, due to the heat it is easy to think that you are more flexibel than you actually are. Instead of setting yourself up for injury, take it slow, there is no rush. Move slowly and mindfully, breathing all the way, to the point were your muscles feel challenged.
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
Listens to what your body tells you. Only you know how far you can comfortably push yourself, and this can change everyday, even over the course of the day. So don’t push beyond your limits, it is your practice and you should do what feels right for you.
Whenever you feel dizzy, lightheaded, nauseous or just not good, do not hesitate to take a break.Go into child poses, sit or lie on your mat and if the heat gets to much I encourage you to leave the room. Try to be discreet, but your health is more important than staying in the class.
WEAR TIGHT-FITTING CLOTHES
You should be shy of your body during hot yoga, no one is there to judge you and how you look. Don’t wear lose clothes as they not only trap heat, but also soak up more sweat and keep you from moving fluently, especially cotton garments as they soak up the most moisture. I like wearing short tights and a sports bra to keep freedom of movement, however some people prefer longer pants to absorb the sweat and stop it from dripping on the mat. For more tips on what to wear during a hot yoga class see this post.
I hope these tips helped you getting through your first hot yoga or Bikram class, or even outdoor yoga in a hot climate.