Its all the rage these days. Steamy rooms filled with sweaty yogis busting their way through an intense flow in a heated room. Some people find hot Yoga incredibly cathartic and healing, and others just want a workout. If you are thinking of taking a hot Yoga class, there are a few things you might want to know first.
1. You Will Sweat, and You May Be Nauseous
True to their name, hot yoga classes are, well, hot. Anywhere between 85 and 105 degrees (F). That means you will sweat. A lot. Dont worry about having the most stylish new Yoga outfit. Wear comfortable clothes made of a fabric that wicks, preferably tight enough that your instructor can see your body.
Its important to not eat a meal for at least two hours before class. You do not want to be still digesting when you are sweating, stretching, and twisting. You also dont want to be so hungry that you get light-headed. The best is to have eaten a light meal about three hours before class.
If it is an early morning class, have a few bites of fruit before you leave for the studio, but at least 30 minutes before class.
2. Hot Yoga Can Be Dangerous
Like any physical activity, hot Yoga has its dangers. Engaging in an activity that makes you sweat in a room that is too hot for your natural cooling process to work can disrupt your temperature balancing process. This can cause heat exhaustion and even heat stroke.
Hot Yoga can be dangerous for your ligaments and tendons. When we are at a normal temperature, stiffness in the joints will let us know when we have reached our limits. But this natural protective mechanism gets overruled in heated environments, and we may feel more flexible than is real.
This means we are more prone to tearing or overstretching ligaments, which destabilizes joints and can cause all sorts of trouble down the road. The tricky part is that you may not even notice that you are over-stretching in class; it might just feel like a stretch.
3. Honor Your Limits
This is sage advice for everything in life, actually, but applies especially to hot Yoga classes. Many instructors will ask or demand that you stay in the room no matter what, but its your health, not theirs. Dizziness, nausea, and extreme fatigue are signs that your body is dangerously hot. If any of those occur, get to a cooler area immediately.
Whatever the instructor might say, do not ever stretch further than you would be able to in a cool room. My rule is to only go to about 80 percent of my limit. Sustainability is more important than flexibility. Especially if you are new to Yoga, you should be careful to honor your bodys limits.
4. Dehydration = Death
I know it sounds extreme, but I want to be sure you get this point. Exercise + extreme heat + not enough water = heat stroke, brain damage, or worse. Drink plenty of water with a little sea salt or lemon juice to keep your electrolyte levels up. Make sure you have had at least 1 liter before class, and have another liter (or three) after class.
Coconut water helps replenish electrolyte levels, and eating celery, watermelon, cucumber, and other juicy fruits and veggies will keep also help keep your mineral and hydration levels up.
5. Take a Yoga Basics Class First
Do not make a hot Yoga class your first Yoga class ever. It will be kinder to have some understanding of the poses before you add extreme heat and lose your ability to understand new concepts. Learning the poses with a qualified teacher who focuses on alignment will ensure you can move through the class safely and effectively.
Hot Yoga can be a wonderful practice, and many people are benefited by the heat and intensity. But it can also be dangerous or unnecessarily uncomfortable if you are not prepared.
Take care of your self before and during class, and you can enjoy the benefits of this modern spin on an ancient healing art.