About five years ago, I was really into hot yoga. Specifically, Bikram yoga. It’s a series of 26 postures done in a heated room (usually between 90 - 117 degrees). I loved it! It didn’t matter if it was 6am or 8pm, I was down to get sweaty! Unfortunately, the studio started employing some awful teachers and my complaints weren’t acknowledged, so I stopped going for years.
Then, a few summers ago, I bought a Bikram groupon because, well, it was cheap and I remembered loving the classes. Let me set the scene for you. It was in the middle of summer. In Florida. So, admittedly, not my brightest idea, but I wanted to get my money’s worth, and so I dragged my husband and we went.
It was miserable, mostly because I had failed to do all the things I used to do when I was the Bikram social butterfly. So to spare anyone else out there any misery, here are my tips for surviving hot yoga.
Note: Bikram yoga is not the only type of hot yoga. There are lots of heated vinyasa classes, so these tips will apply for those as well.
Leave your loose clothing at home. Or rather, take a shower in your boot leg yoga pants and then do a few sun salutations and tell me how much you love it. Haha. No seriously, all jokes aside, the less you wear, the more comfortable you’ll be. I put some of my favorite options below and I'm in the pic above I'm wearing an alo bra and lululemon shorts - both excellent for hot yoga.
Bring a towel. I like this one because it has rubber grips underneath to prevent sliding, but a beach towel will do in a pinch.
Bring a water bottle, but don’t chug. Sips when needed will feel wonderful, but avoid taking down the entire bottle as it can upset the stomach.
Leave your insecurities at the door. This goes for everything but it’s a great reminder here. With Bikram yoga, the lights are left on, there are mirrors, and there’s no where to hide. If that is making your heart race, relax, because when you’re sweating from parts of your body you didn’t even know could sweat, believe me, everyone else is, too, and all anyone else is thinking is how they’re going to make it out alive.
Practice on an empty stomach, but eat. Wait, what? Ok, here’s the thing. While you’re actually practicing, you’ll want to be on an empty stomach just because there’s a lot of twisting and bending and folding, and an upset stomach will be a most unwelcomed added challenge. So eat nothing 2 hours prior to class. However, eat often and eat well earlier in the day so that you have energy during the actual class itself.
Drink water throughout the day prior to your class so your body is well hydrated.
Prevent injury by keeping your ego in check. Here’s the deal. Our muscles loosen up with heat, so you may find yourself feeling like Gumby in your hot yoga class. This is great, but just stay mindful and know your limitations. It’s easy to pull a muscle if you let yourself get too deep into poses.
Take a break when you need it. This goes for all yoga classes, but especially heated classes. Come down to child’s pose or even savasana if you need to catch your breath and slow your heart rate down.
Avoid the urge to leave the room. It can be a shock to your body to go from extreme heat to extreme cold, so instead of leaving the room in the middle of class, come to sit or lie down on your mat and just breathe. Pro tip: If you position yourself near the door, sometimes the teacher will come over, open it up, and wave it back and forth to cool the room down a little bit. By the door is the best seat in the house in this case!
Go without expectations. Remember that we call it a yoga practice because that’s exactly what it is - a practice. No worries about doing everything perfectly. Instead, just let your practice unfold organically and let that be enough.
Clothes for hot yoga
Let’s talk What tips would you add?