Beginner’s Guide to Hot Yoga


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.


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.


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.


  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.


  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.


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.


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.


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.




Bikram VS Moksha

Hot yoga means sweating

Bikram vs Moksha – A Comparison512px-Yogahands

Comparing Bikram vs Moksha yoga is a little like comparing fraternal twins. Both practices are grown from the same root (hatha yoga) and also connected in other ways. After practicing Bikram yoga for 4 years followed by Moksha yoga for the last 7 months I now have enough insight on both sides to do a comparison. I have read other online reviews on this subject and some bloggers are simply regurgitating what they’ve read in other online reviews or they have a strong bias or affiliation with one or the other of these practices. I do not. I am a Hatha Yoga teacher, but not a hot yoga teacher. My viewpoint for this post is strictly as a practitioner and hot yoga enthusiast.

If you haven’t already done so, you can go to the individual reviews of each practice for the facts and ratings of both Moksha (Moda) yoga and Bikram yoga. This post is strictly a comparison post with the view to provide some clarity for people wanting to start practicing hot yoga and trying to choose between these two big players in the hot yoga marketplace.

Are Bikram and Moksha are related?

At the most basic level both practices are based on traditional Hatha yoga postures. On a more interesting note, the founders of Moksha yoga were both trained Bikram yoga instructors prior to their incarnation as founders of their own regime. Does this make Moksha yoga a watered down version or worse yet, an altered plagerization of the Bikram series?

Moksha, Bikram, both include this posture
Moksha, Bikram, both include this posture

I have pondered this carefully and for me the answer is no. Bikram did not invent any of the 26 postures in the Bikram yoga practice. He simply put them in a certain order and added heat and humidity to the mix. It was a serendipitous recipe for Bikram, combined with the age old lucky strike of ‘the right time and place’, the practice was embraced and he now has over 1000 franchises bearing his name. I believe that the Moksha founders did have the Bikram practice in mind when they designed their series. They took what was there and changed it to suit the masses, keeping some aspects of the series and changing others so the entire series would be more accessible to the beginning or average yogi. There would have been nothing to stop Bikram from doing this himself. Yet he did not, so really at some point someone had to. Then along came Moksha.

What is Bikram – What is Moksha

A comparison…

The Practice 

Bikram: This practice is more difficult, the teachers “dialogue” is unforgiving, urging participants to push further, try harder, hold poses longer. All classes are 90 minutes, which is a long time in a room that is hotter and more humid than most other hot yoga rooms. Each posture is repeated so just when you think you can’t do the posture again, you have to. In my opinion the Bikram series is not suitable for an absolute beginner, although they claim it is. It is gladly embraced by more experienced hot yogis the world over.

Moksha (Moda): Definitely the easier yoga series. The teachers are very careful not to push the participants to do anything outside of their comfort zone. Quite the opposite mentality to Bikram, and likely designed to be that way. Most classes are 60 minutes, with some longer class options. Different class types offered, some studios even offer non-heated classes. The average participant is at beginner to intermediate level.

The Instruction

bikram training2Bikram: The teachers have been put through the ringer, so to speak. Nine weeks of grueling training presided over by the man himself (Bikram Choudhury). The training costs an arm and a leg. Of the roughly 30 some odd Bikram instructors I have met and taken classes with, I would say about 50% of them fall in the “edgy” category. To me “edgy” does not have a negative connotation. It means the instructors have interesting personalities and quirks, despite teaching from a scripted “dialogue”. I’ve met the odd warm and fuzzy Bikram teacher, but they are in the minority. There is a cult like quality amongst the teachers who are often quoting or telling stories about Bikram. That they are teaching from a script written by Bikram speaks to the level of dedication and belief they have of the power of the practice. I found certain phrases from the dialogue to be annoying (“now fold together like a japanese ham sandwich” -really?) but as a participant I found it generally worked well. Also, I would often see teachers practicing in the room with me when not teaching which is again a testament to their dedication to practice what they teach. Still, generally, the nature of the scripted practice means you get a consistent work-out, fairly comprehensive safety tips, and it doesn’t matter who the instructor is, you can depend on the same 26 x 2 postures time after time.

Moksha (Moda): Moksha trainingThe teachers all have a Moksha yoga basic training, 1 month long, then they are assigned to one of the franchise locations to complete the next 11 months of training, somewhat like a practicum or a stage. Moksha teachers are actually warm and fuzzy. They all talk in a very mindful manner and since they do not use an actual script, there is the opportunity for them to interject their philosophies of life, yoga, and other subjects once in awhile. Bikram teachers do this too but sooner or later have to get back to the script so it’s not as prevalent. For me the yoga, the breath, and the heat is what brings me to a spiritual place. I tend to tune out when the philosophizing starts. One thing I’ve noticed about some Moksha teachers is their tendency to speak very very slowly, enunciating each syllable of each word. This drives me a little batty because it sounds somewhat inauthentic. I have a post touching on the subject of “the authentic voice” in the teacher’s corner page.

The Operations

Bikram LA

Bikram: I have been inside 5 different Bikram locations. One word: Spartan. Just like the many of their teachers, these places are not warm and fuzzy. Comparing the 3 main studios I attended, the classes at first location still had carpets in the hot room (which frankly is pretty gross) which is the main reason I went to the 2nd location, which was ok, but it had open showers which brought back memories of grade 7 (not a good year for me). None of these locations were places I liked to hang out in after I was done class, ever. The facilities range from adequate to in need of maintenance. If you’re looking to get comfy Bikram yoga isn’t too conducive to that. The staff at every location I’ve been are rather perfunctory which for me is not an issue. I go, I do my yoga, I shower, I leave. If you’re a member some (but not all) Bikram locations offer a free first class if you bring friends or family (sometimes they provide a mat and towel also), which is a very nice offer, that I’ve taken advantage of several times. For more details about the Bikram practice, the studios, the negatives and positives please see my specific review of Bikram Yoga.

Moksha (Moda):

Moksha "Inviting"

Each franchise is individually owned so the vibe of each location can be very different. However, I’ve visited 3 Moksha different locations so far and they were all very inviting. They all have a common area where people can and do gather, sip tea, have a chat both before and after their classes. Teachers, studio owners, and students all mix and mingle. In my studio there is always tea and sometimes people bring treats to share. I never expected to, but I’ve made some pleasant acquaintances in a few short months. The staff are very engaged and do a great job remembering everyone’s names, which is part of what creates the “community” feeling of Moksha yoga. They have an “ambassadors” program allowing select individuals help out in exchange for free class and merchandise benefits. The changing facilities are excellent, spotless, and very well maintained. Operations wise Moksha definitely wins hands down over Bikram. For more details about the Moksha practice, the studios, the negatives and positives please see my specific review of Moksha Yoga also known as Moda Yoga

Which is better Bikram or Moksha?

Full disclosure, I actively practice both Moksha and Bikram yoga. I go to Moksha for my everyday practice and I top up at Bikram when I’m needing the extra “jolt”. Lately that’s been once or twice a month. But If I had to choose one or the other, it would be …. drum roll please …. Moksha, pretty much hands down.

That’s all folks for the comparison of Moksha vs Bikram. For more information about the basics of hot yoga please see click on → Types of Hot Yoga ←.

Comments are welcome, please leave them in the box below. Regards, Connie