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Yogi approved by Keira Shepherd, Certified Yoga Instructor with a 1st Class Honors in Education Studies.
Hot yoga has become increasingly popular in recent years due to its many benefits. If you’ve booked or are looking to attend your first yoga class, we’ll be covering exactly how to prepare for your first hot yoga class.
The primary thing to remember is that hot yoga is, well, hot! You’ll be getting incredibly sweaty in a room full of equally sweaty people – but don’t sweat it; everyone is just as hot as you, and there’s nothing to feel conscious about. After the first few minutes, you may even start to enjoy the buckets of sweat dripping from your forehead when you begin to feel the revitalizing effects of a hot yoga class.
Remember that this kind of heat can cause problems for people who struggle with heat or have existing health conditions, so always speak to your healthcare provider if you’re unsure.
Hot yoga is a beautiful practice for both the mind and body and has the same relaxing qualities of a traditional yoga class plus a few lovely extras. It can help to relieve stress, burn calories, and lead to even greater flexibility.
Read on to find out exactly what to expect at a hot yoga class, the dos, and don’ts, as well as what you might want to consider bringing with you to your hot yoga class.
What is hot yoga?
Hot yoga is like any other yoga class; the only difference being that it’s performed in a studio under hot and humid conditions. The room is heated and humidified to provide a hot and sweaty environment, with the idea being that you can more easily access poses, which increases flexibility.
Hot yoga classes may start a little faster than traditional yoga classes as there’s less of a need to warm up. You may also notice that there are more rest poses incorporated into a hot yoga class.
Many claim that hot yoga is ‘detoxing,’ and while you may sweat a lot, this is not necessarily true. The only real way to detox is through our internal organs, and as we don’t manipulate these during a yoga class, we can’t really detox.
With that in mind, hot yoga does have the ability to indirectly detox – you’ll be drinking enough water to help your body flush out toxins through increased trips to the toilet.
What are the benefits of hot yoga?
Hot yoga has the same benefits as a regular yoga class, as well as a few more.
Less warm-up time
If you’re the sort of person that likes to dive straight into a yoga class, hot yoga might be perfect for you. The heated room means that you don’t need to spend as much time warming up in gentle stretches and can instead dive straight into some of the more challenging poses.
Hot yoga can lead to increased flexibility. One study found that students had noticeably greater flexibility in the lower body after eight weeks of consistent hot yoga practice. This is because the room’s temperature, and therefore your body makes muscles warmer and more comfortable to stretch.
It burns more calories
A study by The University of Colorado found that 90 minutes of hot yoga can burn up to 460 calories in men and 330 calories in women. At the same time, it’s been found that a person of 160lb will only burn 183 calories per hour in a traditional yoga class.
Hot yoga is like taking a sauna! Although you might not be detoxing your body, you will be sweating out some of the surface impurities on your skin. After a few classes, you might even start to notice the difference in the mirror – and if not, you’ll at least have a bigger smile and fewer frown lines from feeling so wonderfully relaxed.
Dos and Don’ts
When heading to your first yoga class, there are a few things that you’ll want to consider to keep your practice safe and your body healthy.
Drink plenty of water
Ensure that you’re hydrated before your class, and don’t hesitate to drink water during the class. Although you don’t drink water during a yoga class, it is generally advised to avoid putting out your internal fire – hot yoga is an exception. It’s better to put out the fire than pass out!
Consider drinking water with electrolytes after class or coconut water to replenish your reserves.
Accept the sweat
Though it will be tempting to wipe the sweat away from your face every 2 minutes, try to go with it. When you wipe away sweat, you only block your pores and cause more sweating. Remember that everyone in the room will be dripping with sweat by the end of the class, so try not to get self-conscious about it!
Rest when you need to
Listen to your body and rest in Child’s Pose whenever you need to or feel that the class has become too much. Suppose you experience weakness, dizziness, or nausea. That’s your sign to leave the room. Experiencing any of these symptoms can be a sign of heat exhaustion and mean that your hot yoga class has done you much more harm than good!
If it’s cold outside, layer up with clothes that are lightweight and easy to remove. You may find it more comfortable practicing hot yoga in a sports bra and shorts. But if you prefer to wear a t-shirt and leggings, go for something quick-dry that won’t stick to your skin and make you feel sticky.
Ease yourself into it
When heading to your first hot yoga class, try to ease yourself slowly into the practice. You probably have no idea how your body is going to cope with the heat. When given the option, practice the more accessible poses before diving into deeper stretching.
It’s also important to consider that your flexibility will be increased. Though this will be a great feeling, it can also lead to overstretching – especially if you’re already flexible! Go into each pose slowly and try not to go past what you would typically consider being your maximum. You can access poses more deeply with each class.
Eat something small before
Though it’s not good to practice yoga after a full meal, try to avoid practicing on an empty stomach. A banana or half a granola bar before class will be enough to keep your sugar levels up!
Let your teacher know about any health concerns
Remember to inform your teacher of any health concerns. Aches, pains, and medical issues should all be discussed with your yoga teacher before the class – they’ll usually ask this question at the beginning of the class.
What to bring to a hot yoga class
Other than yourself, here’s what you’ll need to bring to your hot yoga class.
And lots of it! Hydrate before, during, and after the class to ensure that you make up for all of the water you’re losing through sweat.
Studios will usually have mats that you can use and cleaned between classes, but you may prefer to bring your own to a sweaty hot yoga class.
A mat towel is the perfect addition to a hot yoga class and can be laid on the top of your mat or one that you’re borrowing from the studio. A mat towel will both soak up the sweat and give you extra grip when it starts to get slippery!
Bring a small towel that you can use to mop your brow if you really can’t bear to let the sweat flow. You’ll also thank yourself for remembering to bring a towel to dry off with after class.
Your hot yoga studio will have all of the props you need during class, though it’s questionable how clean they will be. If you prefer to use your props, consider bringing two yoga blocks and a yoga strap – you might also like to get a small cushion to use for seated poses or during savasana. This entirely depends on your practice and what you like to use.
Who can attend and who shouldn’t
Medical Disclaimer: The information and recommendations on our site do not constitute a medical consultation. See a certified medical professional for diagnosis.
Hot yoga classes are suitable for almost everybody! The only time that you absolutely should not attend a hot yoga class is during pregnancy. The intense heat can lead to neural tube defects and other abnormalities in fetuses.
Before heading to a hot yoga class, you should consult your doctor if you have any of the following:
- Heart disease
- Heart conditions
- Blood pressure issues
- Low blood sugar
- Heat intolerance
Hot yoga is a beautiful practice when done safely and consciously. Above all, remember to listen to your body and consult your teacher or doctor if you have any concerns.
Otherwise, enjoy the magic of increased flexibility, lots of sweat, and a new yoga style!
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 – around the world. Now settled in France, she is a mother of one and shares her passion for an environmentally sustainable life through her motherhood blog.