Hot yoga is an intense form of yoga practiced in a room that is heated between 105 to 110 degrees with 40 percent humidity. Hot yoga is most associated with the style devised by Bikram Choudhury. Hot yoga describes any number of yoga styles that utilizes heat to increase flexibility in the poses.
This first time I went to hot yoga I was not at all prepared. I had spent the night with a girlfriend and we decided to go to hot yoga the morning after drinking a fair amount of wine the night before. I don't know about you, but any amount of alcohol I feel it for the next two days. By the way, I no longer consume alcohol. I never did wear it well. We also had breakfast (a bacon and egg sandwich) probably within an hour of entering the hot room. It had been 15 years since I had practiced yoga. I use to practice yoga 5 days a week, Monday through Friday, when my yoga instructor would come to my clinic for 90 minutes and give me personal instruction. After I closed my clinic I fell away from my yoga practice and the next time I was in a yoga pose was in 2015. Actually, that's not True. I had done 90 days of P90X several times and there is a Yoga video in that workout, which is fabulous! Other than that, I was out of yoga shape.
Upon entering the hot room, I was really excited to be there because I like to sweat heavily when I workout. I want my workouts to be ugly, red-faced and sweaty, otherwise I don't want to bother with it. The room felt kinda sauna-ish, so I was fully on-board. I had on cotton leggings and a cotton tank-top. What in the hell was I thinking? Cotton is NOT the thing to wear on a hot day, much less in hot yoga room. The amount of sweat will drench the cotton and the clothes will feel heavy like you just stepped out of the pool in your clothes. Ten minutes into the sequence I was laying on my belly and could go no further. I was hot, sweaty, heavy, nauseous and felt faint. I was not hydrated, I had food in my belly and alcohol still in my system. My girlfriend was fine because she is fit as a fiddle and had no issues. I was dyin'! Honestly, I barely remember that day because I honestly believe I passed out.
That afternoon, when I returned home, I was so upset with myself that I was that out-of-shape, that I started looking for a hot yoga studio near me. The very next morning I was in class ready to go through the motions and this time, no alcohol in my blood, no food in my belly and plenty of water hydrating my body. I started going every single day for a couple of months and then fell off the wagon. It was summer, I was traveling with my grandson a lot and I could rattle off the excuses. Truth is, I was a slacker. Fast forward to now. My friend Kellie texted me one day and said she was opening a new yoga studio. I text back and said I would be there to support her and her new business and I have been a permanent fixture ever since.
If you have never been to a yoga class and this is your first time, please ask the Yoga Instructor how to breathe. It is your breath (Ujjayi breathing) that is going to get you through yoga or hot yoga. Your yoga instructor can explain more, but basically you pretend as though there is a mirror in your throat and you are fogging up the front and back of the mirror as you breathe. Keep your mouth closed and only breathe through your nose while fogging up the imaginary mirror. You will be able to hear yourself breathe.
WHAT NOT TO DO BEFORE HOT YOGA
Do not come to hot yoga buzzed or with a hangover. You will live to regret it within minutes of the session starting. While hot yoga is the great detoxifier, it will probably exacerbate your symptoms and cause you to become dizzy, faint, light-headed or even pass out if your ego is involved.
Do not eat within 2 to 3 hours before your hot yoga class. For myself, my cut-off is within 2 hours. If I'm really feeling hungry before hot yoga, then I will drink a protein shake at about the 1-1/2 hour mark. If I miss that mark, then I will have to pass on nourishment (food or shake) until after class is over.
WHAT NOT TO WEAR TO HOT YOGA
Do not wear cotton as cotton will quickly absorb the sweat and your clothes will become heavy and stick to you.
The clothes you wear to a regular yoga session are not the same clothing you would wear to hot yoga. You won't need those regular yoga pants to keep your muscles warm, the heat will do that.
No moisturizer or lotion because it will only become slippery when wet.
WHAT NOT TO BRING TO HOT YOGA
Fitness watches should be put on silent mode (no beeping)
WHAT TO DO BEFORE HOT YOGA
Drink 2 to 3 liters of water. There are 4 - 8 oz. cups of water in a liter. So that's 8 to 12 cups of water before a hot yoga session.
WHAT TO WEAR TO HOT YOGA
Light breathable clothing
Less is more. Yoga shorts and sports bra.
Men generally wear shorts and no shirt.
Light weight Yoga capri's and lightweight top.
WHAT TO BRING TO HOT YOGA
A bottle of water
Yoga towel or bathroom towel if you don't want to invest in a yoga towel just yet
by Dr. Loretta Standley
About Dr. Standley
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**This web site's goal is to provide you with information that may be useful in attaining optimal health. Nothing in it is meant as a prescription or as medical advice. You should check with your physician before implementing any changes in your exercise or lifestyle habits, especially if you have physical problems or are taking medications of any kind.