Hot yoga. It’s hot, sweaty, kinda yucky and…it’s good for you!
About 5 days a week you can find me sweating out my edges in a hot yoga or Bikram class. Give me a mat, some heat and a couple of towels (to wipe alllll that sweat out of my eyes) and I am in my happy place. I am challenged, stronger and beyond giddy to take my practice to a heated room. Did you know you can have as much fun as me? It is fun, believe me. That feeling of wanting pass out from the heat? Fun! So much sweat in your eyes, you can’t see shit? Fun! Seriously, it is a wonderful way to get your mind and body right.
First what is hot yoga? It is different than Bikram, which is what everyone generally has heard of. Bikram is comprised of a sequence of 26 poses done three times in a 105-degree room. It is always the same poses and sequence. I love taking this class because it is a great way to gauge your progress in the poses and build an incredible amount of patience with yourself. Hot yoga is usually more of a Vinyasa flow class with varying degrees of sequencing and difficulty. The room is “cooler” than Bikram at 95-100degrees. Some of the benefits of practicing yoga in a hot room:
Increases pulse rate and metabolism
Allows blood vessels to become more flexible so circulation is easier
Blood flow to the limbs is increased
Builds muscle tone
Improve lymphatic system (this system is part od the circulatory system and an important part of the immune system)
Flush toxins from your body
Leaves skin smoother and looking younger (okay, maybe that’s not always touted but I see it in myself and others!)
A few things to know before you partake in this glorious hot yoga class of which I speak:
If you are new to yoga, take a few yoga classes in a “regular” temperature room. Become familiar with terms, movements and asanas.
If you have already been taking yoga, be prepared for a different experience. It is not the same thing. You may feel a little lightheaded if you try to go all in. Leave your ego at the door and walk in with no expectations.
Hydrate! Don’t just drink water the day of or an hour before but hydrate well the day before. Also, no alcohol. Admittedly, after I got used to the hot room, I will have wine or something else the night before. First-timers, though….don’t do it! Drink about 16oz of water the day before and an hour or so before class. Bring water to class with you, as well.
Eat. Tread lightly here. A heavy meal should be consumed no less than 2 hours before class. If you need something closer to the time of class I would suggest a few dried dates, ½ banana, a few almonds or some melon.
Listen to your body – not your ego. If you get dizzy, nauseous, a rapid heart rate or weak, sit down. Don’t try to “push through”. This isn’t that type of game, my newbies. Even if you kick ass in every sport or class you do, adding the element of intense heat to your workout will be a humbling experience. Listen to your body and sit your ass down if needed.
The main goal for the first class is to just get through the class. Stay in the room unless you absolutely swear you cannot. Remember, your mind gives up way before your body actually does. If the practice becomes to intense, first try having a seat and breathing. If that’s too much, lie down. TIP: Get a spot by the door. Teachers usually open the door one or two times during the class and you will get that breeze to refresh you.
Make sure your doctor says this okay for you. High blood pressure, diabetes and respiratory diseases are just a few of the issues that would require you to seek permission before heading into class.
Arrive a few minutes early so you can 1) let the teacher know you are new and if you have any issues that may need to be addressed and 2) to get into the room so your body can get adjusted to the heat. It will help gain a little confidence before your first class.
Have a towel for your face, a large towel for your mat so you don’t slip on your sweat and bust your ass.
Because muscles are looser, be careful and deliberate in our movement. It can be very easy to overstretch. Be gentle with your body and take your time as you stretch into your poses.
My ladies, my sistahs: Schedule your hair appointment AFTER your first class. You’ll get better at preserving your edges, blowout, ‘do, whatever, as you continue your hot yoga practice. Check out those satin caps, y’all.
Okay, go forth my peeps. Enjoy your class. You are armed with a few weapons or tools to slay your first hot yoga class!
You are da bomb, baby!