So, you've been poking around the blogs and you've found a studio near you, and you're ready to do it. You, are going to get into hot yoga. Or Birkam. Something bendy in a heated room. Yay! However, if you just jump in there, there's a good chance you will hate hot yoga (and possibly even yourself), so I'm here to make a few suggestions to make your first experience a smoother one.
DO NOT, I REPEAT, DO NOT GO TO ANY HEATED STUDIO THAT IS NOT CLEAN. For me personally, ensō studio sets the standard for cleanliness. In a heated environment where you're in a class full of people sweating and stretching, the last thing you want is the studio to have substandard cleaning practices. Most studios will let you poke around, so check for the cleanliness of the showers and if they have individual stalls, if there's a smell in rooms, and how often the facility is cleaned. For instance, ensō mops their studios and does a complete cleaning of the locker rooms after every class. There is no point in you joining a studio only for it to give you an infection!
It's not the bag that matters, but what you put in it. On my days off from work I usually use my Herschel tote (as pictured) which holds everything I need. On days that I work, I instead use my Lululemon tote
to carry more. Heated yoga comes with heavy perspiration, so your essentials are the obvious. I drink water or coconut water (which you can get in conveniently small cans) before and after class, and carry two towels. Due to a few injuries, I'm a big fan of the thick Yoga Rat mats
. I always have my two Yoga Rat towels
; one for spreading over the actual mat to avoid slipping, and another smaller hand towel for dabbing off excess sweat. However, those towels were picked up on sale and in a moment of temporary weakness, so normal towels are just as good as well!
Most studios have their own rules, so always check in with them to see if they have any special requests before diving in. My number one thing is not wearing any heavily scented creams or any perfume during class. All that heat is going to make you let go of toxins like crazy and it's not going to be pretty when you mix that with manufactured scents.
Personally I love doing hot yoga in the morning, but I'd die if I didn't eat before class. When it comes to eating before classes, take it as you would with swimming. I eat more than an hour before class and usually something quite small and full of protein, with a huge mug of tea. Typically I go for a scrambled egg topped with cheese and a cup of Lime Gelato tea
(which is what's in that David's Tea cup!) to hold me until after class.
Because of the heat and excess sweat, please, please, please do not give yourself heat stroke and wear sweat pants. See me, I like heat, I'm West Indian after all, but pushing yourself upwards of 40C/104F is madness. Stick to tight sports bras, muscle tees, shorts, and airy capris. And please, don't forget to bring your water bottles into class! Also, those rings I'm wearing? I take those and all earrings out before class; all they do is attract sweat.
Once I've pulled myself off the floor, I usually only can think about eating. Beware, hot yoga takes a lot out of you and can make you super hungry, leading to over eating. I try to keep my post-yoga eats to a standard, sticking with a salad with lots of chicken or tuna (or tofu, if you'd rather) and more coconut water. I like meat, and that's not going to stop anytime soon, but as long as you take it slow with the consumption after class, it won't make you sick. Another trick to combat any lost supplements is to take a multivitamin after class. You'll know you're completely rehydrated once your urine is pale or even clear.
The biggest organ in your body is going to love you for this. Hot yoga is honestly my not so best kept secret. You want to know why Island people have the best skin? Because of the heat and humidity (amongst other things). I start yoga early in the morning, so I usually shower and exfoliate the night before, and then do so again once I get back home. Due to how much gunk can come out of your pores, exfoliating makes sure that dead layer of skin doesn't get trapped and leaves you lovely and smooth. Plus your towels will thank you after.
DON'T FORGET YOUR HAIR
Your hair can easily be forgotten. If you're natural, I think taking care of your post-hot yoga hair might be easier. I think there might be a lady at the studio I go to who's hair is permed, but I haven't seen her too often. If you can do wash and go's, more power to you! For me, dreads, braids, and twists is the easiest way to go. I do my own Havana Twists at home, so hair maintenance for me is pretty easy. If your hair dries out easily, maybe consider spritzing your hair with a light moisturizer (without a heavy smell) before class.
Since I can't wash my hair every day after yoga because I'd either be A) bald after all my hair drops out or B) stuck under the drier for three hours a day, I use a spray I've mixed myself to keep my scalp clean. Using one part Witch Hazel, two parts water, and ten drops of tea tree oil to spray my roots after a shower keeps my scalp clean. Then after getting dressed, using a bit of my oil mix of coconut, castor oil, tea tree oil, and peppermint oil to seal in moisture is enough to keep my hair soft and smelling amazing. However, all you need is a little, because if you overdo your oiling the body heat still coming off of you will turn you into an oily mess! Washing biweekly with a sage tea rinse before shampooing also helps get rid of any build up.
Getting into yoga is very easy, but taking care of yourself during your practice can start off a little bumpy. Remember to listen to yourself as you go along and take everything in small strides.