What to Expect at a Hot Yoga Class
This weekend I took a trip into Manhattan to see a few friends from my yoga teacher training. We decided to take a hot vinyasa flow class at a Y7 Studio in Soho. The class was incredible and we all left satisfied, and soaked in sweat.
I personally am a fan of hot yoga, but as I chatted with my girlfriends about it afterward I thought about how taken aback I would be if I didn't know what 'hot yoga' was all about. Walking into a room that's heated upwards of 90 degrees F can be a bit of a shock for anyone. I have several friends who despise hot yoga and several others who are obsessed with it, so it really comes down to personal preference. If you're considering trying out a class, here are a few things you should know.
One of my favorite things about hot yoga is that it really loosens up your body. If you have trouble with flexibility, this is a wonderful remedy. The heat helps you to get deeper into poses safely and allows the body to stay limber throughout the entire class.
Bikram yoga is what most people think of when they hear 'hot yoga' but with so many different types of yoga on the market today, just about any class can be heated for similar benefits. So what constitutes as 'hot'? I've found the temperature varies anywhere from 80 degrees F to just over 100 degrees F. Talk to your teacher to find out specifics.
All that heat offers a range of health benefits. Increasing the temperature of your body makes you to sweat, allowing the body to rid itself of toxins through the pores. The idea is the same as a sauna. Your heart rate becomes elevated, breathing improves, and the mind focuses as the body relaxes.
Hot yoga has it's unsavory moments as well. If you don't have a mat that has a lot of grip or a towel to put over your mat, you're going to hate your life. There is literally nothing worse than slowly slipping up or down your mat in down dog. Make sure to invest in the grippiest mat around to avoid sweaty falls. I swear by my Jade Yoga Mat.
If you are a sweaty person, I would advise wearing full length leggings. I know it may seem counter intuitive, but trust me you're going to be hot no matter what you wear. Full length pants are going to help you avoid slipping when you need to grip your leg, or in poses like side angle when your arm is resting on your leg. I will never forget making the mistake of wearing shorts to a hot yoga class. I couldn't hold on to anything because my entire body was sweaty and slippery. Ugh.
That's another thing that turns many people off to hot yoga: The Sweat. It can feel pretty disgusting when there is sweat pouring down your eyes, dripping off your chest, and when you realize that even your legs and arms are sweating. Whatever you do, make sure to bring a towel! I can't stress this more. Your towel will be there to wipe sweat out of your eyes, and to put under your hands or feet if you start slipping on your mat. By the end of class your towel will be wet, and you will be shimmering.
It's important to be hyper aware of your breathing and limitations when taking a hot yoga class. There is a good chance you will feel like you might pass out if the temperature gets over 100 degrees F. If you find that you're starting to feel light headed or you're having trouble breathing just take a moment to stop what you're doing and sit or lay down on your mat. Focus on your breath and stay still for as long as you need. Don't be afraid to leave the room if you're really feeling ill. Respecting your body is the most important thing in any yoga class.
Despite the sweat and the slipping and the feeling that you may spontaneously combust, hot yoga is all worth it at the end. A feeling of accomplishment and euphoria come over you while you're lying in savasana. I've even felt cold tingles at the end of a heated yoga practice. But nothing beats the feeling you get when you leave that hot room and head home to take a cold shower, washing that hot sweaty mess down the drain. Renewed! Glowing! Strong! It's one of the best feelings in the world.
Have you taken a hot yoga class before? Would you? Let me know in the comments below!