Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Beginner's Guide to Hot Yoga

This past summer, I bought a Groupon for 10 classes of hot yoga for $39. A STEAL! Hot yoga, or Bikram, is something I have always wanted to try but there were limited options in the Dayton area. Not surprising. This new studio is dedicated solely to the practice of hot yoga, and is relatively close to my house. If you're unfamiliar, this type of yoga is practiced in a room that is cranked up to 100 degrees. For 90 minutes, you sweat your way through 2 breathing exercises and 26 poses, both standing and floor. Same poses every time.

I have only attended a handful of classes so I'm still very much a beginner. But, here are some things I wish someone had told me before my first HOT experience.

1) Wear as little clothing as possible, depending on your level of comfort. I wear short compression shorts and a tank top. There are crazy people who wear long pants. I don't know how they aren't dead before class is finished. It's best to pick a wicking fabric as well. Cotton becomes heavy with sweat and can be uncomfortable.

2) Drink water! Before, during and after. You want to make sure you're well-hydrated before heading to class. Some people don't like to drink during class but I wouldn't be able to make it through without cooling off every now and then. It's especially important to drink water after class too to replenish everything you just sweat out. Gross fast: I sweat out 2-3 lbs of water each class. Got to replace that! I was going to take a picture of me post-class and then I thought better of posting something so unattractive.

3) If you need to modify a pose due to comfort level, that's okay. If you're light-headed, SIT DOWN. There is no shame in skipping a couple poses if you're feeling a bit strange. I'm told it's better to stay in the room if you can while you're resting. Something about the change in temperature and how your body responds. Last class, an old man laid down for a good 30 minutes. Truthfully, I think maybe he just wanted a place to nap.

4) Bring a towel. At the very least, you'll want one to wipe off your face. I don't think there's anything worse than sweat blinding you from rolling in your eyes. Another good place for a towel is on your mat. As you sweat, your mat gets slippery. I know. Eww. But it's true. The towel will give your feet something to grip while you're in the standing poses. They also sell sticky towels that grip to your mat on one side and absorb the sweat on the other.

5) It's yoga but it's intense yoga. You will likely be sore the next day. I walk out of there feeling rejuvenated and very alert but my legs feel like I just ran 6 miles. If you've never taken a regular yoga class in your life, you might not want to start with hot yoga.

Yoga is great for releasing toxins, relieving stress, giving yourself some me-time and it's just all around good for your well-being and fitness. Now you know!

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