Hot yoga is all the rage lately, with studios popping up all over suburbia. If you ask a yogi about the benefits of hot yoga, some of the more common replies you might hear are about how you can increase your flexibility and energy, improve your focus, reduce stress and promote an overall good feeling.
But hot yoga can be intimidating if you’re new to the practice. The room hovers at 95 degrees and 40 percent humidity, conditions that in my experience are conducive to eating ice cream, not working out. But once you get past the initial shock of the heat and humidity, the benefits can be transformative, leaving your body feeling rejuvenated and your mind clearer.
Here are five things you need to know before you attend your first class.
1. How to prepare
Refrain from eating two hours prior to class. If you must nibble, choose something that digests quickly, like fruit. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Drink plenty of water the day before and the day of, though not too close to the start of class or you may spend more time in the bathroom than in the studio.
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2. What to bring
A yoga mat is a must. If you don’t own one, some studios rent them for just a few dollars. Bring a towel, one that is long and thin. The skidless kind can help prevent your mat from turning into a slip-and-slide once you start to sweat. A second smaller towel is handy to mop your brow (and every other body part) when sweat starts to pour out of you like a showerhead. Be sure to bring a water bottle, the sippy kind is easiest. You might consider bringing a change of clothes because your workout wear will be soaked by the end of class.
3. What to wear
Any kind of workout gear that is comfortable. I find fitted clothing best, keeping in mind that when you bend forward, so does your shirt. Wicking material feels good because it breathes. Avoid cotton, which becomes soggy and heavy when wet. I wear spandex leggings and a tank top. No shoes required.
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4. What to expect
Arrive early to store your personal belongings and secure a spot on the floor. Enter quietly because conversation is kept to a minimum—it takes a peaceful environment to get Zen! Once class begins, pace yourself. Feel free to sink into ‘child’s pose’ (a restful position) as needed.
5. What to expect afterward
Expect some soreness the next day. Yoga is designed to work every muscle, tendon, ligament, joint and internal organ in your entire body. After my first class, my shoulders were so sore from ‘downward dogging’ I could barely raise my arms. But like most things, it gets easier the more you do it.
Hot yoga can be tough at first, but it’s a great way to develop strength (cardiovascular, muscular and respiratory) and restore harmony. I’ve developed a passion for hot yoga. It has given me such an incredible sense of well being that now I actually crave it!
See you on the mat!
Lisa Tognola is a freelance writer from New Jersey. She blogs at mainstreetmusingsblog.com, where she reflects on life in the suburbs — the good, the bad, and the ugly.
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