15 Tips For Keeping Your Cool During Your First Hot Yoga Class
Okay. You did it! You signed up for your first hot yoga class... But now what?
Hot yoga offers many benefits, such as cleaning impurities from the body, lengthening major and minor muscles, strengthening these muscles, and improving your mood and mindset. Yoga is a great platform to help you leap into a healthier lifestyle by integrating mindfulness, fitness, and overall wellness into each and every day.
There are many different types of hot yoga, ranging from the traditional (and arguably most intense) form, called Bikram, which is heated up to 108° F, to heated vinyasa flow classes, which are heated to 85°F, on average. Regardless of which type of hot yoga you are doing, here are some tips and tricks to keeping your cool during your first hot yoga class.
1. Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate!
Start getting your body ready the night before your first class. Drink lots of water the night before, and the morning of. The amount of water you should drink varies person to person, depending on the atmosphere of where you live, additional physical activities performed throughout the day, and other food/beverages consumed. To find what's right for you, use the age old trick of looking at the color of your pee to check your hydration status; if it is clear or light yellow, then you are hydrated! (Note: If you take certain vitamins, such as B12, your pee will be yellow for a few hours afterwards, regardless of hydration levels.)
If you have a sensitive stomach, try to not drink too much right before class, as this could make you feel nauseous (especially if you haven't eaten recently). Drinking water will also help your body get a deeper cleanse, both externally (such as your skin) and internally (throughout your digestive tract and other internal organs).
2. EMBRACE THE SWEAT.
Here's a big thing that might sound pretty obvious... it will be hot in the room. Not only in terms of temperature, but also in terms of humidity (either from steam the studio has, or from the compilation of sweat that each yogi is producing). The humidity is an added layer of adjustment that those who live in typically arid climates will need a little bit more time getting used to. With the heat and humidity factors, know that you will sweat (oftentimes, in forms of beads so big you think it's raining), and that it is normal... and SO good for you!
Have no shame in your sweat. Wear it as a badge of honor.
3. Bring Water Into The Studio
Again, back to the water. Taking small sips of water throughout your practice will help replenish the water that you are losing through sweating. Don't overthink it!
4. ...And Leave Your Phone Out Of The Room
Unless you are on call for your job, give yourself an hour to disconnect from your phone. Not only is it distracting for your other classmates if you have your phone out and are receiving notifications, text messages, and phone calls, but it also disturbs your own peace of mind. Yoga can be an incredible outlet for finding peace and serenity within your life; first, you begin to notice this on your mat, then as it becomes part of your yoga practice it is easy to take it "off the mat", and practice mindfulness daily.
So, why would you bring something into your safe space that is proven to cause depression and anxiety?
5. Wear The Clothes That Are Right For You
While we can all be a sucker for athleisure, this point isn't important in terms of looking good; it's important in terms of feeling good. Wear clothes that are comfortable for you; for some, this may be leggings and a tight tank top, while for others, it may be a t-shirt and running spandex. When you feel comfortable in what you are wearing, you are more likely to feel stronger, smarter, and more confident.
A good tip to figure out your go-to yoga gear is to try a few downward facing dogs in your home before class. This way, you can see how the clothes feel while you're inverted (because there's nothing more frustrating than a tank top that hangs in your face and smothers you during Down Dog!)
6. Do Your Research
Do your research before jumping right into a class, especially if you'll be going alone, or with a friend who hasn't done yoga before either. Look for a beginner/Level 1 class, as instructors gear their cues towards those who are new to the practice, and often spend the whole practice on their mat, in order to give you a point of reference (in more advanced practices, instructors spend more time off their mat, checking for alignment and giving assists).
Some studios also only teach specific styles of yoga, such as Bikram, Baptiste, Ashtanga, or Restorative, as opposed to offering a variety of classes. You will be able to tell from the class descriptions and the "About" section of the website to see what your studio is like!
7. Show Up Early
Showing up early to class will help for a few reasons. You’ll have the opportunity to choose where you want to set up your mat, make sure you have all your necessities in the room (water, sweat towels, etc.), and most importantly, it will give you time to get used to the heat. Taking a few minutes to let your body acclimate to the high heat and humidity will help you feel more at ease during your practice. Give yourself at least 15 minutes before your first few classes!
8. Use Yogi Approved Sweat Towels
Yoga towels can be such a game changer when it comes to hot yoga. There are so many different types of brands and textures; some have no slip grips on the bottom, others tuck around the corners of your mat, and several have moisture wicking properties. Regardless of what specifics entice you, all of these towels serve the same purpose: to help you stay grounded on your mat.
Try spraying water from a bottle the studio provides, or splashing water from your water bottle underneath your towel at the front and back ends (where your hands and feet will be placed during Down Dog)
If you end up loving hot yoga, we recommend the Manduka Yogi Towels. Ask us about them in the studio if you have any questions.
9. When In Doubt, Child's Pose
Child's pose is the go to pose whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed, lightheaded, or fatigued. In its very nature, Child's Pose is a grounding pose, with majority of your body touching the mat, from the tops of your feet, all the way to your forehead. When taking a reset in Child's Pose, remember to take deep cleansing breaths in through the nose at a count of 4, and out through the mouth at a count of 4.
(As if you needed more reasons to love Child's Pose)
10. Give Your Body Time To Digest
For the sake of your own body, and your classmates noses, be sure to watch what you eat before class, and how long you eat before class. This time and this food varies person to person, but a good rule of thumb is to snack on clean, whole foods (think non-cruciferous vegetables, no dairy, whole grain rice cakes and peanut butter, chia seed pudding, etc.) and leave yourself at least an hour to digest before your practice.
Giving your body ample time to digest will give you more energy, make you feel lighter, and help you move deeper into poses. (It will also help prevent smells that may release from your body thanks to all the twists and turns because hey, we're human, and farts happen.)
11. Remember To Breathe
Think of how much harder it is to breathe when its warm outside. Add humidity, and any form of exercise to the mix, and any notion of relaxed breathing can quickly turn to desperate panting if you aren’t careful. When holding a pose for an extended period of time, and as you are transitioning from pose to pose, be sure to keep your Ujjayi breath moving!
12. sniff test
While many yogis follow a lifestyle of using all natural, good-for-the-environment products, they also practice saucha, which means cleanliness (both inside and outside the body).
Thankfully, there are tons of new and awesome all natural on the market right now, that actually work! We love Native Deodorant after trying many out there and so talk to any one of us at the front desk and we will be glad to share all about it. Apply after changing for class, and you can even add a few drops of essential oils to your neck and wrists to help release a more pleasant smell.
Is your sweat extra smelly today? This might explain why.
13. Move Slowly Out Of Savasana
After you crush your first practice, and find yourself lying peacefully in a sweaty Savasana, be sure to get out of it slowly, by first moving from your back to your side body (try out the fetal position, using your arm as a pillow), then to a seated position. Giving your body the extra time to “wake up” will help prevent you from getting a pretty scary case of the spins as a result of sitting right up from a laying down position.
14. Don't Forget That Yoga Is A Practice
Every yogi that may be able to do handstands, stand up from wheel, and do Punga Mayurasana, was once a beginner who didn’t know the difference between Warrior 1 and Warrior 2. I often see that beginners are so scared to go to a studio, and once they garner up the courage to make it there, they are so self-conscious about how they look that they don’t really take a breath to truly realize how awesome it is that they made it to their mats and are trying something new. Honor your practice, and embrace your yoga journey! Laugh at yourself when you fall, and stay mesmerized with each shake and twist of your muscles as they are getting stronger and stronger.
15. Enjoy the experience (i.e. Have fun!)
OK this should be number one. But really, have fun. Enjoy the entire process, you only go to your first hot yoga class once, so take it all in, don't fret, and enjoy the experience. We want you to love it so any feedback or other tips let us know!
It will take some time to get used to yoga, but continue to show up! Doing yoga in a studio helps build community and confidence in your own practice. Don't be afraid to ask your teachers and fellow yogi's for other tips and tricks they may have that have helped them during their yoga journey!