Many yogis delve into hot yoga classes for a myriad of reasons. Practicing hot yoga can relieve joint pain, build strength increase cardiovascular conditioning.
- Know your limits and listen to your body. Before you even walk into the hot room assess your state of mind and physicality and make a well informed decision if a hot or hot power class is what you need. If you have a stressful day or are already sore, perhaps a basic, gentle or non-heated class will create more balance in your body and give you peace of mind. Yoga is meant to bring balance. Ayurveda and the yoga sutras teach us that when out of balance cultivate the opposite.
- Appropriate Clothing. This will be different for every person. Wicking and quick drying material will keep sweat off of your body. Tight fitting clothing is recommended to avoid attempting to move with heavy damp clothing on your body. Many men even wear swim trunks into class while women opt for tight medium length pants and tank tops or sports bras.
- The Mat. I prefer a lululemon 5 millimeter mat for the hot room because the sticky top layer allows for less slippage. However, there are many preferences and schools of thought. It takes away from your practice to constantly slip around on your mat. Lulu mats also absorb your sweat. Standard mats and non absorbent mats leave you to play slip-and-slide on your yoga mat or lying in a puddle of sweat for you to float in during savasana. Yogitoes towels are also recommended to place on top of your mat.
- Rehydrate/Electrolyte replacement. Water, water, and more water! Drink it well before, during and after class. When you are thirsty it means your body is already dehydrated. I also recommend replacing your electrolytes with emergen-c packs, coconut water, kombucha or any other health supplement. This will aid you in hydration and proper recovery for your body. Dehydration can also lead to an increase in injuries and lethargy.
- Breathwork. If your breathing is heavy and shallow or you feel you are panting SLOW DOWN. Yoga is an eight-limbed practice and your breathing is equally important to the physical embodiment of your practice. Check out patanjali’s yoga sutras or research the eight limbs of yoga to add depth to your knowledge of yoga.
- Rest. Allow your body time to recover when the teacher offers child’s pose and savasana. This will allow the physical postures of your practice to set properly in your body to build muscle and encourage your joints, tendons and muscles to gain flexibility.
- Check the ego at the front door. Yoga is NOT a COMPETITION! This occurs fairly often in hot power classes. Please, refrain from comparing yourself to others or developing negative self talk in your body. Based upon our anatomy, experience, age and number of years we have practiced, we will all be at different checkpoints along the way. It is not a race to handstand, but a journey of the self.
- Realize this is a practice! One of my favorite quotes, “In the end the race is long and it is only with yourself” from Mary Schmich applies perfectly to practicing in the hot room. Over time your body and your practice will change. Know certain postures are accessible in your body after dedication and showing up on your mat and certain asanas may never “look” like everyone else’s. Your practice is a journey so enjoy what is available in your body here and now.
- Follow the sequence. Teachers design classes in a specific way. If students are not following along with the rest of class it can take away from the vibe or bav of the class. Particularly, this becomes important in the hot room because the heat adds another layer of difficulty and fatigue in your body. While adding additional options is often encouraged, if you are unable to enter it safely I advise you to not do it to avoid injury. We all enjoy being able to walk after class and go about our everyday lives free from injuries. Ask your teacher questions after class if you need additional help
- Have fun! Hot classes are some of the most enjoyable, playful, difficult and detoxifying classes offered in certain studios. While taking your practice seriously is important at the end of the day life is about doing what makes you happy. If your practice is adding to the stress or out of balance feelings in your life take a step back and reassess. Enjoy the journey of your practice and watch how it unfolds.
See you on the mat!