Hot yoga can be a hot mess if you're not prepared. I'll never forget my first time trying hot yoga. I had a Groupon to try hot yoga that was about to expire and figured I might as well try it. I figured it couldn't be that different from the yoga classes I had been taking at 24 Hour Fitness.
I showed up 10 minutes before class started in baggy cotton sweat pants, a t-shirt, no water, no towel, and a cheap $5 mat from Target. It all went downhill from there.
Within minutes, I was dripping in sweat, my clothes were soaked, I was slipping all over my mat and started panicking because of the intense heat. I vividly remember getting to the point where I thought I was going to pass out so I ran out in the middle of the class and lay on the cold tile floor in the bathroom to cool off.
I stayed in the bathroom until class was over, got my mat, and didn't go back for months!
After spending some time researching what to bring to hot yoga, what to wear, and what to expect, I finally got the courage to go back to class a little more prepared. It was one of the most mentally and physically challenging things I've ever done, but I finished the class and left feeling accomplished and energized.
Fast-forward to 5 years later... I now go to hot yoga 4x/ week at Corepower Yoga. It sounds so cliche to say yoga has changed my life, but it really has. Yoga has been instrumental in my running recovery, keeping me strong and toned, decreasing my stress and anxiety, and constantly keeping me motivated and challenged.
If you have been thinking of maybe trying a hot yoga class but are kind of hesitant or scared this post is for YOU! Take it from me -- who has made every mistake in the books when it comes to hot yoga -- these 7 tips for surviving your first hot yoga class will save your life.
Image: Rufai Ajala via Flickr via Creative Commons license
Bring the Right Equipment
Bringing the right equipment to your first hot yoga class really can make or break your experience. I didn't bring a towel for my mat or water to my first yoga class and instead of enjoying class I spent the entire time trying not to slip off my mat while dying of thirst... good times. So what do you absolutely need?
- Yoga mat: Some studios have mats that you can rent, but I've also been to studios where they don't have anything. You can find very cheap yoga mats at places like Target or Walmart. If you're looking for a quality mat I love the Manduka mat for hot yoga.
- A small face towel: Even the highest quality Lululemon headband won't keep sweat out of your eyes in class -- believe me, I've tried them all! To avoid sweat stinging your eyes and just being uncomfortable always bring a face towel.
- Insulated water bottle: There is nothing better than ice cold water during a hot yoga class, but if your bottle isn't insulted, your water is going to heat up pretty darn quick. I swear by Hydro Flask bottles! I leave class and there is still ice cubes in mine.
- A towel for your mat: Brands like Yogitoes make towels specifically to go over your mat to prevent you from slipping around during class. I love Yogitoes towels because they stay in place and absorb sweat very well! Like a quality mat, a quality towel is also pretty expensive, so if you're not ready to drop $50, a large beach towel can also work.
If you know you're going to try your first hot yoga class, I highly recommend making a conscious effort to drink some extra water a couple days before. I'll never forget in one of my first classes being so thirsty that I was chugging my water bottle and the teacher looked at me and said, "it's way too late for you hydrate".
I don't know why that stuck with me, but ever since, I try to make an effort to be extra hydrated on yoga days. As for post yoga, it's very important to drink water and maybe even add electrolytes. I highly recommend Nuun hydration tabs.Arrive Early
If you take anything away from this post, please make it be this! Hot yoga is popular, especially at well-known studios like Corepower Yoga. Don't ever assume because a class starts at 9:00 am that you can show up at 8:55 am and get a spot. Classes often get full and you don't want to be THAT person making people move their mats for you.
I highly recommend always being at least 20 minutes early, especially if it's your first time since you may have to fill out paperwork. You also want to allow yourself enough time to acclimate to the heat before class starts.
I highly recommend going into the room at least 10 minutes early and just laying down on your mat. This will ease your body into the higher temperatures and make class much more enjoyable.Wear the Right Clothes
I'll never forget wearing baggy cotton sweat pants and a t-shirt to my first hot yoga class. I have no idea why I thought this was even remotely a good idea when you're going to HOT yoga to sweat in a 100 degree room. 10 minutes into class, my clothes were wet, heavy, and uncomfortable.
You need to wear clothing made with light, breathable, sweat-wicking fabric! I love brands like Lululemon, Zella and Nike for yoga clothes.Breathe
A huge part of yoga is connecting body movements to your breath. Your teacher will prompt you to breathe in and breathe out during class. For the longest time I thought this was just a bunch of B.S. until I decided one class just to see if breathing really helped.
With proper breath I had better balance, was more flexible, and didn't get dizzy or winded in class. REALLY try your best to breathe, and you'll have a much more successful first class and yoga career.
If you do start to panic in class from the heat, the first thing you should think of is if you're still breathing. If not, sit down on your mat and take a break until you can connect back with your breath.Listen to Your Body
There is a reason people call yoga a practice. Practice makes perfect, and believe me, even in the most advanced yoga classes, people are off balance, falling over, and a mess. The only way you can improve is to try.
Don't pay attention to what anyone in class is doing and take each move/posture to the level that feels best in YOUR BODY THAT DAY! Every single day your body feels differently and every single yoga practice will be different as a result.
Another HUGE thing to be aware of is that the heat helps make you a lot more flexible. This is great but be very careful not to push your body too far. If you ever feel numbness or pain, stop immediately and make adjustments. As you take more classes you will start to learn your limits.Be Prepared for Heat
Guys, it's called HOT YOGA! Depending on the style of yoga, classes range from about 90-105 degrees. You are going to sweat. You are going to get hot. You are going to be uncomfortable. But you CAN get through it!
One of my teachers said it best stating that the point of the heat is to keep you mentally present in class. A big reason yoga helps with stress and anxiety so much is because you train your mind to just focus on breathing one movement at a time and staying present in the moment.
It's so easy in a non-heated fitness class to just half-ass it and let your mind wander, but in hot yoga, where you truly sometimes feel you're struggling to survive, remember that the heat is just there for you to stay mindful.
I promise after a few hot yoga classes your body will acclimate to the heat and it won't even affect you anymore.
Your turn: Have you ever done hot yoga? Do you enjoy hot yoga? Do you have any tips to add about surviving your first hot yoga class?
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