Do It All: Hot Yoga

I’m going to start a new series of posts, I’ve decided, called “Do It All.” Why? Because I always get asked “what’s the BEST thing to do, or “I don’t have a lot of time, just tell me one thing I can do all the time that will work.” Usually I’m getting asked this in a grocery store or in line somewhere where people see me in fitness clothes, ask if I’m a trainer, and then proceed to get as much advice as they can out of me in those mere moments. My response: “Do it all.”
They don’t usually like this. They think our convo alone will help them lose ten pounds, but it doesn’t. So I say, “Do all of it. Go run, do TRX, swing kettlebells, take yoga, take kickboxing, go skip around, lift weights, do Pilates, jump, swim, kayak, play kickball, etc. The more different ways you move your body, the better off you’ll be.” So to start this series, I’m gonna give a few tips for one thing, then you go try it. It’ll be fantastic. Promise.
I’ll start with Hot Yoga, because I’m gonna go take a class later and it’s on my mind. Remember, there’s a difference between Bikram yoga and hot yoga. Bikram is a set series, it’s an hour and a half, and it’s typically 110 degrees. Most hot yoga places are a little less hot (100 degrees +/-) and offer lots of different class durations. I go to a hot yoga place because Bikram just isn’t my jam, I’ve found. Here ya go:
Hot Yoga Tips:
1. Hydrate the day before.
If you’re thirsty going in, you’re already de-hydrated and asking for trouble. Bring water with you to class, and put a couple ice cubes in it so it doesn’t get warm while you’re in the heat. The ice will melt and you’ll have nice, moderate temp water.
2. Don’t eat too soon before!
Everybody’s different, but most people need about an hour and a half to digest their meal. Just ate? Take a later class. Haven’t eaten in several hours? Grab something small and light, like a banana, a handful of nuts, or a protein bar an hour before. If you puke up your Starbucks latte, you’ll be bummed. And they might kick you out.
3. Arrive ten minutes early.
This gives you time to fill out necessary paperwork and to inform the instructor if you’ve never taken yoga/hot yoga before. And if you have any injuries. They need to know these things. It’ll make class better for you.
4. Bring your own mat and a towel. And a water.
You can usually rent/buy these items, but who wants to pay for that? And don’t think that you won’t need a towel. You will. And you’ll love it when you can’t open your eyes because there’s sweat in them. Not.
5. Pick the right class level.
So many people jump right into the 1.5 hour Bikram class that’s 110 degrees (when they’ve never done anything like that before) then they puke, then they hate hot yoga forever. Check out the class schedule online first. There’s usually a beginner class or ones that are shorter (1 hour) and a little cooler (85-90 degrees). START WITH THESE.
6. Listen to your body!
Your body has certain responses for a reason. If you’re about to pass out or puke, it’s because you’re doing too much for your body and it’s doing that to make you STOP. So if you feel a little weak/queasy, sit/lay down for a moment. Take a drink of water. When you feel ok, jump back into it. Most yoga places (most) want you to take it at your own pace and they won’t degrade you for taking a small break. If they do, they’re assholes. Go find another place and don’t give them your business. Anybody can do yoga, you just have to go at your own pace.
7. If something hurts, don’t do it!
You know the difference between something being hard to do, and something actually hurting you. If it hurts, wave down the instructor and they’ll give you a modification. Promise. We don’t want you to get hurt. Then you won’t come back : (
8. Don’t stretch too far!
The heat makes your muscles reeeeeally stretchy. This is good. However, if you stretch too far, you’re going to be reeeeally sore for a few days and may injure yourself. That being said: if you can touch your ankles usually but now you can touch your toes, that’s ok. You’ll be able to get a little closer in hot yoga, that’s good. If you can only touch your knees usually and now you can touch your toes, scale it back a little, buddy. You’re going too far and you’ll pay for it the next day (or week).
9. Keep going.
If you feel weird/awkward at first, duh! It’s your first time. Nobody’s great their first time at anything. So try it again. You’ll get better as you go. Promise. And you’ll see the benefits if you go a couple times a week.
10. Don’t wear cotton.
If you wear a huge, cotton t-shirt, you’ll probably regret it 10 minutes into class. You’re going to be hot, you’re going to be sweaty. The less clothes you wear, the better, but if you’re not comfortable only in a sports bra and shorts, make sure the top/bottoms you’re wearing are made of light, breathable fabrics. Your body sweats to release heat, so if you wear clothes that don’t allow that to happen easily, you’ll feel hotter than you should. I’m not just trying to get you naked, I’m serious.
Benefits of hot yoga:
Improved posture
Improved flexibility
Better balance
Sculpted muscles
Time to yourself!
You have time to breathe and chill… and what’s better than that?
Questions? Ask away:
*that photo of me is NOT what I look like taking hot yoga. it was for a shoot with this guy. I usually have a red, sweaty face, with hair in a messy, sweaty bun, looking a HOT mess. : )
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