10 tips for hot yoga

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Helpful Hints for Hot Yoga

I wish it had been intentional, but hot yoga kind of happened to me.  My friend and I had met our running goals and were looking for something new to try.  I had an occasional habit of doing yoga through online videos and she was interested in that.  Then, it turned out that there was a hot yoga studio within walking distance of us both, but no normal yoga studio.  And thus began my journey with hot yoga.

A few months later, the hot yoga studio has become my respite and I make it into the studio 3-4 times per week.  I'm no excellent practitioner, but I do know enough to help guide folks to the blocks in the back.  Here are my top hints about starting a hot yoga practice:

1. Just go.  If it's horrible, leave.  You'll make it our the door to the safety of your car and then you'll never have to see any of those people again.

2. Let go.  Of any feelings about your body, your practice, your ability level.  Just sink into it slowly, taking care of your body and easing yourself in gently.  You showed up to your first class, that's enough, everything else is just icing on the cake.

3.  Get there early.  This way you can ask questions and find whatever props you might need without the added time pressure.

4.  Wear the lightest possible tank-top you can find.  I've always been one for dressing conservatively, but this is the best shirt I wear to hot yoga.  Class feels so much better when you aren't trapping in extra heat because of your clothes.

5. Hydrate.  I mean really hydrate.  Start drinking water an hour before your class.  It makes so much of a difference once you get there.  And you cannot fully make up for failing to drink water before class by gulping it down during class.  You'll start feeling dizzy or sick.

6. Pick some "no excuse" class times where you know you'll have no conflict to serve as a base for the week and then try to work in additional classes when you have time.  For me, 10 p.m.-11 p.m. is my "no excuse" time.  There is nothing that could possibly stop me from attending class at that time other than my own laziness.  For a lot of people, the best "no excuse" time is early in the morning.

7.  Focus on something you enjoy that you can keep in your mind.  For me, it's the initial lavendar-lilac smell of the yoga studio and the way a few of my favorite stretches feel after a good work-out.

8.  Listen to your body.  It's easy to stretch too far, or push yourself too far, in the heat without realizing it.  Don't.

9.  Get a hot yoga towel for your mat.  Just do it.  You don't need to be sliding around in your sweat while you're trying to hold downward-facing dog.  Plus, it's so easy to just throw in the washer and clean after your session whereas I've never felt I could truly wipe down my yoga mat satisfactorily.

10. Practice gratitude & give yourself some love!  Be thankful for your experience, whatever that experience is.  You did it.  Acknowledge yourself for trying something new and doing something wonderful for your body.

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