Image via Yoga Six
Over the last few years, I have fallen in love with heated (ie. hot) yoga classes. However, I didn’t love it from the start. I took my first hot yoga class about 3 years ago. At the time, my only form of exercise was long distance running, but I was sidelined by an injury. Since I wanted to stay active while recovering, I decided to try hot yoga. My friend is a yoga instructor (start your yoga training here) so I thought I’d get on well with it, but as it turns out, hot yoga isn’t the same as normal yoga! Looking back, I seriously wish I had read a post like this before I went! The room was hot and humid and I am pretty sure I wore a heavy cotton t-shirt. That first class was tough. I was drenched in sweat, thirsty, and starting to feel a bit lightheaded so I had to take frequent breaks to rest in child’s pose. Walking out of the studio that day, I was surprised at how challenging the class had been despite how fit I thought I was at the time. In fact, that is what kept me motivated to keep going back!
Learn from my mistakes and be prepared before heading to your local yoga studio to try out a hot yoga class with these 8 tips. Keep in mind that the first class will be challenging, but know that you’ll get better with each class you try. Just don’t get discouraged! These days, I try to incorporate at least one hot yoga class into my weekly routine each week. One of my favorite studios in Chicago is Yoga Six. Besides Chicago, they also have locations in California and Missouri if you want to check them out!
- Choose the class that’s right for you. Even if you’ve taken yoga classes in the past, it’s best to start slow when trying out hot yoga for the first time. Start with a shorter 60 minute class rather than a 75 or 90 minute one. Also, look for a level 1, beginner, or slow flow class so that you can get used to the head without also trying to keep up with the flow.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. I’ll admit, the first time I took a heated yoga class, I didn’t hydrate well enough beforehand and found myself with a bit of a headache afterwards. Prevent yourself from getting dehydrated by drinking at least one liter of water throughout the day before you get to class. Bring water to class with you as well. After class, re-hydrate with another liter or more of water.
- Don’t eat right before class. It’s best to head to hot yoga on an empty stomach. When you are not used to it, sometimes working out in the heat can make you feel a little lightheaded or nauseous so it’s best to avoid eating about 2 hours before class.
- Bring a towel, yoga mat, and water bottle. Staying hydrated during class is just as important and before and after class. Bring a large water bottle of ice cold water into class with you to sip on periodically. A towel is also important since you’ll be working up a sweat in class. If you forget your mat or towel, most studios will let you borrow one for just a small fee.
- Wear light, breathable fabric clothing. Learn from my beginner mistake! The room will be hot and you will work up a sweat. Choose form-fitting workout clothes made from moisture wicking fabric.
- Get to class early if possible. When you get to class early, you have more time to set up your mat and grab any blocks, straps, or other equipment you may need. You can also introduce yourself to the instructor and ask any questions you may have about class. This also gives you a little bit of time to begin to adjust to the heat before you need to start moving.
- Listen to your body. It is not uncommon to feel a little nauseous or lightheaded during your first hot yoga class. Whenever you start to feel “off”, just take a sip of water and rest in child’s pose until you feel ready to get back into the flow.
- Congratulate yourself. You finished your first hot yoga class! That’s an accomplishment. Now thank your body by making sure to refuel with a light, healthy meal and re-hydrate after class.