I remember walking into my first class and feeling like I had no idea what I was doing and everyone else knew it. The instructors gave me the rules of the studio and told me to roll my mat and towel out and wait for the class to start. When I walked into the room I remember thinking how warm is was. I laid there on my mat for about 15 minutes before the class started and the thought of how in the world was I going to survive my first class kept running through my mind. But here I am a year and a half later and I look forward to my practice every week.
Everyone has heard of and probably tried some form of yoga. This physical and mental practice dates back to the fifth and sixth centuries BCE. Hot yoga as a mainstream practice has been around since the late 1960’s and can provide many health benefits. It is practiced in a room at about 41 degrees Celsius with 40% humidity. Classes are traditionally 90 minutes long and include 26 postures with 2 breathing techniques. The poses flow together smoothly and will ensure to get your heart rate up. It improves your flexibility, balance and strength. The classes start with a savasana or corpse pose where you lie face up on the floor with your hands down by your side, and will end in a final savasna. If you are thinking about trying a class there are many benefits you can get.
Hot yoga is great for getting a little deeper into your poses, and for a really good sweat! Whether you are looking for a new way to improve your health or something to challenge you that week hot yoga is a great addition to any week! Another benefit of yoga is improving an individual’s mental health, yoga has been shown to greatly improve the severity of anxiety and depression in individuals. Doing yoga activates the autonomic nervous system which helps lower the levels of the stress hormone cortisol, this helps you sleep better and increase self-efficacy.
With all the great benefits of this practice I wish I had started it earlier but there are some things I wish someone had told me before my first class.
1. Prepare for your practice
Drink extra water throughout the day and plenty after class, ensure you do not have lotion on your skin, or makeup on your face (it will feel awful when you start to sweat), and avoid eating a large meal before your class.
2. Bring the essentials:
- Yoga mat and mat towel (if you don’t have you can always rent from the studio)
- Large water bottle
- A hair tie
- Change of clothes if you arrived in your yoga clothes
3. Arrive early to class
By arriving early, you can ask the instructors where the cool spot is in the room. Set your mat up there for your first class. After you pick your spot lay down in savasna, I like to lay for at least 10 minuets to get used to the heat and to warm up before I start my practice.
4. Listen to your body
During your practice pay attention to how your muscles are feeling, what your breathing is like and how you feel overall. In positions, you should feel a stretch, but you should never feel pain.
5. Downward dog & child’s pose is always safe
At any time, it is okay you take downward dog or child’s pose to either gain your breath back or take a break. The poses are great for giving yourself the break you need so you able to finish your practice.
6. Pick the right class
Classes are traditionally 90 minutes, but some studios also offer 60-minute sessions. Those classes are great for beginners who want to try it out. Avoid power or flow classes as they involve constant movement and few rest periods. A great first timers class is a Karma class. They are typically 60-minute class offered at various studios for a minimum donation and all the money collected from these classes goes to charity!
Although hot yoga has many benefits it is very important you consult your doctor if you have high blood pressure, any cardiovascular concerns, are pregnant, or have any other medical conditions. The intense heat and humidity can affect every individual different so take precautions.
By Courtney A