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Yogi approved by Keira Shepherd, Certified Yoga Instructor with a 1st Class Honors in Education Studies.
With access to studios being limited and quarantine going on for much longer than we first imagined, it’s understandable that we’re starting to wonder how to bring some of our favorite yoga practices into our homes.
Like any other yoga style, hot yoga can be easily practiced at home with a little preparation and space. Whether you have an entire room to dedicate to your practice, a sunny garden, or a wardrobe full of winter clothes, there are plenty of ways in which you can recreate hot yoga from the comfort of your own home.
Practicing hot yoga at home can inspire independence and allow you to practice exactly how you want to. It’s best to start slow in your at-home yoga practice and build up speed and strength from there – but we’ll talk about that later in the post.
In this post, we will cover the history of hot yoga, some of the best ways to practice it at home, as well as how to make the most of your at-home practice.
What is hot yoga?
Hot yoga is a practice where we move through poses in a heated – and often humid – environment. In a studio, hot yoga is usually practiced in a room that is heated between 90-98 degrees.
This style of yoga can be dated back to the introduction of Bikram yoga in the 1970s. Bikram yoga consists of a fixed sequence made up of 26 poses, with classes held for 90 minutes, and practiced in a room heated to 105 degrees and 40% humidity. The purpose is to recreate the hot and humid conditions of India, where yoga originated.
Today, students can attend hot yoga classes around the world. Classes vary in length and teacher and do not follow the same rules as Bikram yoga – meaning that a wide variety of yoga poses are used. Often classes will weave in Hatha or Vinyasa yoga practice, so make sure that you are comfortable with a faster-paced class before turning up the heat!
Why do people love hot yoga so much?
Hot yoga has become incredibly popular due to its “detoxifying” effect. Practicing yoga in hot and humid conditions will lead to profuse sweating and give you the impression that you are ridding your body of toxins. Though this is a beautiful feeling, it’s essential to know that this is not necessarily the case. Our internal organs cannot be detoxified by yoga poses, though we may experience clearer skin due to sweating.
Practicing yoga under hot conditions can also make us wonderfully flexible. By allowing our tissues and muscles to release more efficiently, we are better able to access deeper shapes that we might otherwise struggle with.
Exercise psychologist Jorianne Numbers says that hot yoga causes us to focus more on our breathing than regular yoga classes. By focusing on the present moment – our breath – we can more easily let go of stress and release any tension we’re carrying with us from outside our yoga practice.
How to practice hot yoga at home?
Practicing hot yoga at home can be done! And though it might take a little more time and effort to recreate your favorite hot yoga studio in your kitchen, there are several easy ways that you can go about it.
The hot yoga environment
Let’s start by looking at your at-home hot yoga space. Turning an entire room into your yoga studio is one of the best ways to move away from the stresses of life quickly and into your practice. You can paint the walls a warm color, place mandala stickers to recreate a studio look, bring some candles, incense, or an essential oil diffuser into the room, and do anything you desire to make it feel like your yoga space. You’re going to want to enjoy the time you spend here!
Suppose you don’t have room to spare for your yoga practice – no problem! Try designating one corner of your home into your yoga space. Space where you can keep your yoga mat, yoga props, and anything else that helps you sink into your practice and can be set up quickly.
“How am I going to recreate the heat of a hot yoga class at home?!” I hear you ask.
There are several ways in which you can replicate the heat of a hot yoga class. Let’s have a look at some of the most effective.
A portable space heater
If you’re able to practice yoga in a closed room, pop a portable space heater in there before your practice and turn it up, up, up. You’ll soon have a HOT room in which you can get sweaty in your home practice.
Just remember to keep your heater away from flammable materials and not too close to your mat! You don’t want to lose your eyebrows as a result of bringing your practice into your bedroom.
Take your practice outside
When experiencing warmer weather, why not take your practice outside? When the summer months get incredibly hot – or you’re lucky enough to be on holiday – you don’t need to attend a studio-based hot yoga class to reap the benefits. Just take your mat into the sunshine and move through your favorite yoga poses. Don’t forget the sunscreen!
Science suggests that by removing our mats and practicing on the earth itself, we can realign our electrical energy and improve our emotions more effectively.
Have a look at the other benefits of taking your practice outdoors here.
Wear more layers
An obvious but very effective way to create a similar experience to a hot yoga class is to wear lots of layers. Start with a layer or two more than you would usually wear and remove them as you need to.
Create inner heat
By starting our practice with and incorporating the practice of pranayama, we can build internal heat instead of relying on external factors. Follow your pranayama practice by intentionally and purposefully moving through the yoga flow to create more heat in the body.
How to practice Kapalbhati (or ‘skull-shining’ breath’)
- Contract your lower belly – place a hand here if you find it difficult to focus on this area.
- Quickly contract your abdomen to push the air out of your nose; repeat this every 1-2 seconds.
- After a little practice, you can force the exhale two times every second.
- Imagine that the exhale is brightening your inner skull.
- Repeat for 25-30 cycles, building your way up to 100 after a bit of practice.
Find out about the benefits and how to practice other pranayama techniques at Yoga Journal.
It’s essential to take it easy when practicing hot yoga, especially when at home and not under a caring teacher’s watchful eye!
Go into your practice slowly, maybe opting for longer poses over moving quickly through the practice. Note how you feel, and build up your practice from there if you’re looking for a faster-paced practice such as Vinyasa flow.
If you’re not confident in practicing hot yoga safely by yourself, remember that you can always follow a video to stay safe and be guided through the poses. Soon enough, you’ll learn your limits and be able to create your flow with your personal goals in mind.
How to construct your yoga sequence
Though hot yoga usually means that you can spend less time warming up, it’s still important to stretch your body and wake up the tighter areas before accessing some more intense stretches and poses.
An introductory class should be structured with a warm-up, standing poses, and a cool down.
During your warm-up, consider using seated poses to target the major muscle groups you intend to stretch or engage during your practice. You might want to consider:
- The hamstring muscles
- The quad muscles
- The abdominals
- The spine
- The shoulders
Your standing poses can be built using sun salutations, static postures, and balancing poses. Have some fun with it!
A cool down is vital to decrease your heart rate at the end of the practice and leave you refreshed. Depending on where you’re practicing, during your final savasana, you may want to turn your room heater off or move to the shade – merely using a blanket to cover yourself if you get too cold.
Remember that your home practice is for you. If you don’t want to plan a sequence, don’t! Work through the yoga positions in a way that serves you and is respectful of what your body needs.
There’s no need to follow a set sequence during an at-home yoga practice unless you’re practicing a yoga style that follows set poses – such as Bikram or Ashtanga yoga.
Tips for getting the most out of your hot yoga practice
There are a few things we recommend to make the most out of your yoga practice and keep yourself safe!
Above all else, stay hydrated! Often yoga teachers will advise against drinking water during your yoga practice as it can put out the “inner fire.” So you need to make sure that you’re well-hydrated before you start your yoga practice.
Saying that, if you feel thirsty during your hot yoga practice, are sweating more than you expected to, or experience any lightheadedness, stop and drink some water. It’s not worth passing out to keep the inner fire lit.
Remember to rehydrate after your practice – you’ll see why this is necessary when wringing out your activewear over the bathtub. You might want to add electrolytes to your water to make sure that you replace anything that you’ve lost during your practice.
Don’t rely on juice, syrup, or caffeinated drinks to rehydrate as these will have the opposite effect.
Clear your hot yoga space
Removing the clutter and stress from our minds is one of the best things about practicing yoga. However, this may be difficult to achieve if you’re practicing surrounded by household mess. Have a quick sweep of your yoga room or yoga space to ensure that nothing will distract you or take away from your practice.
With that in mind, a little mess can be an excellent opportunity to work on your Drishti (or yogic gaze). Yoga Journal states it correctly – “where our eyes are directed, our attention follows.” A little external mess is ideal for teaching you about what it means to be focused inwardly and not distracted by, well, distractions!
Set a time to practice
Allocating space for your yoga practice every day is one of the best ways to commit to our practice. It’s easy to finish work, sit on the couch, and watch television; yoga can wait. But, if you want to improve and advance in your practice, daily movement is necessary.
Try starting with 30 mins per day, eventually increasing this to 60-90 minutes a day. Yoga will quickly become a crucial part of your routine that you couldn’t miss on the worst of days, and your body and mind will thank you for it.
Practice with a friend
A yoga friend can be a great way to stay motivated and share your love of yoga. Even if you don’t practice in the same space at the same time, you could remain accountable by sending each other a photo of your yoga space every day and a bit of info about your practice – how long you practiced for, how you felt before, how you felt after.
By starting your at-home yoga journey with someone else, you’re more likely to commit yourself to spend time on your mat and find balance every day.
Follow an online class
If you feel like things are becoming a little stagnant in your at-home hot yoga practice and you’re looking for a bit of inspiration, why not follow an online class?
The best thing about online classes is that you can try out a range of teachers without paying anything! Every teacher has a different style and will introduce something new to your practice.
After a couple of online yoga sequences, you’ll probably be ready to return to your practice and implement all of the new transitions you’ve learned.
Keep it fun
Nobody practices yoga to feel miserable and bored, which is why it’s so important to keep your practice fun!
If you’re losing interest in rolling out your yoga mat every day and committing time to your practice feels more like a task than a goal, it might be time to switch it up.
Why not try out another yoga style, or see if you prefer practicing at a different time of day? We evolve with our yoga practice, so what suited you before might not always be the right fit.
Safety precautions for your at-home hot yoga practice
As with all forms of exercise, hot yoga is best approached from a safety perspective.
If you suffer from high blood pressure, are pregnant, or have any other health conditions which you think might affect your practice, contact your healthcare practitioner for advice.
If at any point, during your practice, you start to feel lightheaded or nauseous, you must remove yourself from the heated space. These are both signs of heat exhaustion and should not be ignored for the sake of your practice.
Practicing allows us to broaden our yoga experience further.
No teachers, no peers, heck, maybe even no mat! Practicing yoga at home gives you the total freedom to explore your practice on your terms.
Did you intend to practice hot-style vinyasa but have now decided that you would rather stay in floor-based poses? Do it! Did you choose to commit to 90 minutes, but 30 feels like enough. Good news, you can stop whenever you want!
There are no limits on your at-home yoga practice, and that’s the beauty of it. We can focus on the areas that we want to progress in, try out a new pranayama every day, or spend 1 hour in savasana. The floor is yours, literally.
If you’re familiar with attending hot yoga classes in a studio, know that your home practice is going to look a little differently. Primarily, you have to set up the heat, the room, and design the class. But as we previously mentioned, this is the wonder of at-home yoga.
If your at-home hot yoga practice is simply not working out for you, try something else! There’s a whole world of yoga just waiting to be brought into your life; you can always head back to hot yoga when it suits you more.
Keira Shepherd is a certified yoga teacher living in Toulouse, France. Originally from the UK, Keira received a First-Class Honours degree in Education Studies at Oxford Brookes University after completing her dissertation on using special technologies when teaching children with autism. Keira is a keen traveler and has spent a lot of time teaching various practices – such as yoga and scuba diving – worldwide. Now settled in France, she is a mother of one and shares her passion for an environmentally sustainable life through her motherhood blog.