Hot yoga is really popular at the moment and a lot of people are trying it out as a way to work up more sweat in their yoga practice and get some heat into their day. I teach hot yoga and I really enjoy the feeling of a total workout along with tension-release. I love the satisfaction I feel when I walk out of a hot yoga class – my muscles are physically more relaxed from the heat, but they’ve also worked hard and I know they have been strengthened in the last hour. I also just love being in the heat, it’s so therapeutic in a cold climate! For the people who are new – or new-ish to hot yoga, here are some tips that helped me to get the most out of my hot yoga practice.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day (but don’t overdo it either). So when I say drink plenty of water, I mean stick to the 8 glasses a day recommendation, or 2 litres throughout your day – cups of tea / coffee, juice, water, all these count. When you come to class feeling generally well hydrated you will be better able to manage the heat. When I first heard this advice, I downed a litre of water in the half hour before the class, I wouldn’t recommend that! Needing to go to the bathroom during intense core work is not pleasant! So hydrate to the normal recommendations before the class. After the class, drink as much as you need to replenish the water you’ve lost from sweating through the class.
- Eat something small an hour or two beforehand. In traditional yoga, students are encouraged to practice on an empty stomach, but I have found I get a lot more from my practice if I eat an hour or two before hot yoga. If you are coming straight from work, pack a banana or a handfull of nuts to have an hour beforehand. Having a small amount of energy added to your system can help you in your hot yoga practice. You don’t want to feel the food in your stomach as you’re practicing, so keep it light and nutritious and give yourself an hour or two to digest your snack before class.
- Take it at your pace. Hot yoga is typically more challenging than a normal flow class. So if you’re starting out, take it at your pace. Talk to the teacher before the class and explain you’re new to the class. (As a teacher I love to know who is new so please don’t be shy, we were all new once!) If you’re new to the heat, it can take your body a class or two to adjust to the new surroundings. Your muscles will also be more open and feel more flexible in the heat, so just stretch to about 80% of your capacity until you get used to the practice. Taking the class at your own pace allows your body to get the most out of the practice for you… because your practice is for you, nobody else.
- Towels, towels, towels. I spent so many classes slipping and sliding around my mat, and would feel frustrated because it broke my flow. I started using a towel mat (a mat-sized towel with grips to prevent slippage) and it changed my practice big time! By having a towel between the mat and my hands and feet, I was able to gain better grip and therefore better balance, and therefore better flow in my practice. If you want to try this out, you can rent a towel mat at Yogahub reception to see if it works for you.
- Light clothing. I like to wear three-quarter-length leggings and a loose top to hot yoga. By having lighter clothes, I feel lighter and better able to enjoy the heat. This is really a personal call, so wear something you would feel comfortable wearing in a yoga class on the hottest day of your holidays. The rooms are between 37 and 42 degrees Celsius so that’s a good indicator.
- Talk to your teacher. Teachers love to get questions and feedback after classes, so if you want to know something, ask! If you’re struggling and not sure it’s for you, speak up. Sometimes getting a little nudge of support from a teacher is all it takes. Other times, we might learn a modification to a pose that changes our whole practice. If you connect with a teacher and keep going to their classes, you will find it easier to get into the flow of the class. So much of this is personal to you – so if you find a teacher whose classes you enjoy, approach them and ask them a question, or just say hello. The more you reach out, the more support you will get in your practice.
If you’re new to hot yoga, you will have an adjustment period – you may feel an immediate love / hate reaction to it, or maybe you’ll be on the fence. Personally I felt drawn back to it, even though I found it hard at first. These tips are what helped me to really enjoy the practice, but no doubt there’s plenty of people reading who have other little gems to impart. What helps you to get the most out of your hot yoga practice?