Beginner’s Guide to Hot Yoga

CALLING ALL HOT YOGA BEGINNERS

Hot yoga means sweating
Hot yoga means sweating

You probably wouldn’t be reading this unless you or someone you know is interested in taking your first hot yoga class. Or maybe you’ve already taken a couple of classes and that has peaked your interest to find out more about hot yoga. If you haven’t yet, you should read my post about the different types of hot yoga classes in the yoga market place these days.

If you’re looking to try a hot yoga class the most accessible way for many people is to find a studio nearby that offers hot classes. Location and convenience is an important factor when you’re starting anything new. You’re just more likely to go if it’s easy to get to with convenient class times that suit your schedule.

I started  hot yoga classes at my local studio and that was perfectly fine for me as a beginner. Now, I’m willing to travel a little further to go a studio that is dedicated to hot yoga. You will know when and if you are ready for that. For more information about two styles of dedicated hot yoga series please see my review Bikram vs Moksha.

So, dear hot yoga beginner, let’s arm you with some information to give you the best start possible in your first hot yoga class and beyond.

BEFORE YOU GO

Just kidding, please use tissues!
Just kidding, please use tissues!
  1. Make sure you arrive about 20 min ahead of class time.
  2. Pre-hydrate. No one ever told me this until much later and I wish I had known better. Drink at least a litre of water 30 min-1 hour prior to class.
  3. Eat a light snack about 1 hour before class, a piece of fruit, small sandwich, snack bar, etc.
  4. Make sure you don’t eat a large meal closer than 2 hours before class.
  5. Clean your nostrils. No, I mean it. It really helps your breathing once you’re in the class. Those of us who have been through traditional style of yoga teacher training will fondly recall the lessons on the “Neti-pot”. Beginners, if you don’t know what a neti-pot is, you won’t need to, I digress.
  6. Wash any make up, sunblock or moisturizer off your face and chest as these products can run into your eyes along with your sweat and may cause your eyes to burn.

WHAT TO WEAR & WHAT TO BRING

Ladies Yoga Wear:  Sleeveless, stretchy tank style top or sports bra, stretchy shorts with a deep crotch or yoga pants

Mens Yoga Wear:  Luckily you can go topless. Bike style shorts or Underarmour.

What NOT to wear: Loose gym shorts with or without netting. There are alot of forward folds, you may unknowingly expose people behind you to an “eyeful”. Gym shorts with a netting inside will restrict your movement in the standing series of postures. Loose tops on ladies will have the girls spilling out during forward folds, as said there are a whole lot of those.

Stuff you need: A water bottle, insulated stainless or glass, plastic is not recommended for hot yoga. A good mat, rent one from your studio if you don’t have one. Don’t buy a higher end mat until you’ve practiced for at least 30 days and determined that hot yoga is indeed up your alley. 2 towels, one to lay on your mat and one to shower with afterwards.

ONCE YOU’RE IN THE HOT ROOM

Savasana
Savasana
  1. Before the class begins take Savasana (Corpse Pose), with your feet pointing to the back of the class (lay in the direction everyone else is laying in). Breathe naturally and enjoy the heat. If the class is crowded, pull in your wings!
  2. For at least the first few classes choose a spot nearer to the back of the class so you can see what the other participants are doing.
  3. Place your mat in a position that allows you to have at least a partial view of yourself in the mirror and don’t place your mat directly smack dab in front of someone else’s mat eliminating their view!
  4. Try to do a “single entry”. That means go in and stay in, not in and out to get water, have a chat, go pee, etc. Do everything you need to do before you go in, then stay in. This helps the room retain the heat and courteous for the practitioners who arrive early just to enjoy their pre-class Savasana.
  5. Once in the hot room, silence is usually observed until the teacher enters.

DURING THE CLASS

  1. Breathe, make this your #1 focus. In and out THROUGH THE NOSE, unless otherwise instructed by the teacher.
  2. Listen to the teachers instructions and watch the people in the front row, they’re usually the more experienced participants.
  3. As a beginner don’t try too hard to keep up. Rest when you want. Take a kneeling position to rest if you’re just tired or take child’s pose, then Savasana if you really need to.
  4. Resist the urge to leave the room, even if you need to lay down for most of the class, just remaining in the hot room for the whole class is the end goal the first few times.
  5. If you start to feel dizzy, don’t try to leave the room quickly because you could fall over. Stay on your mat, take a kneeling pose first, concentrate on breathing in and out through your nose, if you feel you need to go to child’s pose, then take Savasana if your body tells you that’s what you  need. If, after the dizziness subsides you really do need to leave, then do so for a few minutes, once your heart rate calms down, GO BACK IN.
  6. If you feel nauseous, don’t be shy, let the teacher know and they will assist you.

AFTER THE CLASS

Replenish Electrolytes
Replenish Electrolytes
  1. Re-hydrate and replenish electrolytes. Lemon water (or a small chunk of himylayan salt in your water), unsweetened coconut water or kombucha are all good choices.
  2. Now you can eat a healthy meal, you’ve earned it!
  3. Book your next class right away. In order to feel the full benefits of hot yoga you should try to go to at least 3 classes the first week. Even if the first class is a challenge you may feel quite different after the 3rd class. Like anything else, you should give hot yoga a chance to produce positive effects (although I personally did feel fantastic after my very first hot yoga class).
  4. Wash your mat and use a mat spray, then hang it to dry. If you don’t it’ll get funky on you.

IS HOT YOGA GOOD FOR EVERYONE?

No, it won’t be for everyone. Nothing is good for everyone. You know you, you know your body, you know your health history. So, use your common sense. If you try it out for a couple of weeks and it doesn’t make you feel good or you don’t see the benefits, maybe it’s not for you. Just because everyone and their down dog are into hot yoga doesn’t necessary mean it’s the right thing for you. Only you can decide that. And if you decide hot yoga’s not your fancy then check out NOT HOT YOGA.

IS HOT YOGA OK DURING PREGNANCY?

Hot Yoga During Pregnancy
Hot Yoga During Pregnancy

Please talk to your doctor about this and/or discuss with the manager of the studio you’re going to. I’ve seen over the years at least a dozen different pregnant ladies practicing hot yoga right up to full term, always adjusting their postures accordingly and never seen or heard of any negative effects on those particular pregnancies (gone to a few yoga baby showers!). However, every woman and every pregnancy is unique and what one pregnant woman can do isn’t any indication that it’s ok for every other pregnant woman to follow suit. At bare minimum you will need to have proper instruction about how and when to adjust the postures to suit the various phases of your pregnancy. Some postures are absolutely not suitable for a pre-natal practice regardless of whether it is a hot class or not. Please remember that even though you are the one attending the class (which may feel good to you) your unborn baby may be affected differently and cannot exactly voice their opinion yet!

I will say that I love seeing the beauty of those glistening bellies practicing along side me, it’s a testament to the fact that women can be at their strongest, and triumphantly active during these nine special months. Both my boys were born before my “yoga revolution” but I swam 40 laps every other night during both pregnancies up until the week of delivery and there were people who thought I was crazy doing that. Both my boys today are robust specimens of perfect health, so to say I believe in staying active during pregnancy is an understatement. But just to reiterate, please seek the advice of your health care professional before participating in hot yoga during your pregnancy. If you have specific questions regarding practicing Bikram yoga or Moksha yoga during your pregnancy, I touch on this in my review Bikram vs Moksha.

Also, check out → 21 HOT YOGA Q & A.

In the meantime, if you have other questions that aren’t answered here…your comments are welcome, please leave them in the box below.

Regards, Connie.