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Hot Yoga: What to Expect

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From yoga to crossfit to zumba to purebarre, recent workout trends have showed us that we can get fit while also having fun. If you want to ditch the dumbbells, one of the hottest fads today is something you should try- hot yoga.

We know what you’re thinking- why would doing yoga in an almost unbearably hot room sound appealing? For those that have been taking basic yoga classes but don’t feel like they’re getting a workout, those who routinely run or do cardio at a gym and want a change of pace, or a yoga first-timer that just wants an experience, hot yoga is a perfect option. It combines the meditation of yoga that we all love with hot conditions that make us sweat like we’ve never sweat before to cleanse ourselves of toxins.

Though the class structure is the same as other yoga classes (90 minutes of poses and breathing exercises), yoga in this kind of heat makes you focus primarily on your breathing. Hot yoga especially teaches yoga fanatics that breathing is crucial to having a positive experience.

In order to experience hot yoga or Bikram yoga to its fullest potential, you must know how to prepare, what yoga clothes to wear, and how your body might respond afterwards. Knowing what to expect is crucial to being able to focus on yourself and your body without discomfort.

First, you must prepare your own body to be placed in the hot yoga environment. Try these tips:

  1. Drink plenty of clean fluids- If you’re going to a class in the morning, make sure you are drinking LOTS of fluids the day before. Load up on filtered water or even create a juice from fresh fruits. You’ll thank yourself later for being hydrated.
  2. Eat before you go- Make sure to have something in your stomach before you go into class. Try to eat a few hours before, though, because working out on a full stomach wouldn’t be pretty. Something like fruit will provide sugar and carbohydrates to give you energy. Nuts or an energy bar would also be a good alternative. Try to stick with something clean or lean- avoid foods that are fried or greasy.
  3. Pack a large water bottle- Use ice cubes and water, don’t freeze it. Water will be your friend during the class, and you won’t want a big block of ice that isn’t thawed yet.
  4. Check your studio’s FAQs- All hot yoga classes are generally the same in structure- 90 minutes with similar poses and breathing exercises, but your studio might have specific information that might be beneficial to know beforehand.

Other than preparing your body and your mind, you also must know what yoga clothes to wear. This is always tricky, but here are some do’s and don’ts on what to bring. Pack a bag with these things:

  1. Tank Top- Try something other than cotton- that will absorb your sweat and become really heavy. You will obviously be sweating a lot, and you also don’t want your shirt to be hanging down on your face during poses. Pick something form-fitting to your body like a dri-fit or mesh tank top that is breathable and allows you to move.
  2. Pants below the knee- Sitting in a 90 or 100 degree room wearing hot long pants might not be what you consider fun. But, pants below the knee have more pros than you might think. Wearing shorts or spandex makes the skin on your legs very slippery when you sweat. Besides the possibility of chafing, when you’re doing poses that require grabbing your knees or legs, you want your grip to not slip.
  3. Towel- Your mat is what will make or break your hot yoga experience. Because you’ll be in such steamy conditions, you must have something to prevent your mat from getting too slippery from your wet yoga clothes. Bring a mat that has grips on the bottom of it and place bath towel on top to be sure that there won’t be any slipping and sliding.
  4. Headband/bobby pins/elastics- Hot yoga is a time to reflect on yourself and your body, and the last thing you want is the distraction of hair in your face. Bring a hair tie or a headband to make sure your hair is out of the way and pulled up off of your neck.
  5. Extra outfit- You will more than likely be drenched, so pack an extra of everything, even underwear. When you’re done, you will want to change into dry clothes. If your studio has showers, take one on a cooler setting to cool off from the heat.
  6. A separate bag- When you are done and your clothes are sweaty, this will come in handy so you don’t have to mix it with other things. Ick.
  7. Cleaner for your mat- When you’re done, you will need a cloth to clean it. Sometimes cleaning spray is provided, but bring some wipes just in case.

Once all of your yoga clothes and accessories are packed, you will need to know what to expect. Not all hot yoga classes are the same, but typically you will start and end with a breathing exercise, warm up, and standing and floor series` in between. Most of the time, the lights in the room are off for relaxation, and the instructor will be the only one talking. Follow along with the poses that your instructor demonstrates, and use hot yoga as a time to cleanse your body as well as your soul. Know that you will inevitably sweat buckets, but your neighbors will be doing the same so that’s ok! If being super sweaty isn’t your thing, hot yoga isn’t your best option. However, for many, hot yoga and Bikram yoga is an opportunity to meditate and connect to your soul, while getting a good workout at the same time! 

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