My favorite part of the week would have to be the mornings that I get up early and go to hot yoga class. Hot yoga is yoga done in a heated studio. Depending on the studio that you go to, the room can be heated from anywhere from 85ºF to 105ºF (29 to 40.5ºC). Where I go, the temperature usually hovers around 95ºF. The first time I went to hot yoga was in March, when a friend invited me. We went together on a Sunday afternoon, and I was nervous as I didn’t know what to expect. The first class was a little scary, because my body was not acclimatized to the heat, and I was dizzy and very dehydrated. I must have drunk water every 10 minutes in that 75-minute class! But, the funny thing is, after I left the class…the only way to describe the feeling that washed all over me is bliss. I felt so empty of all negative emotions- released. When I told this to my friend, she laughed and said, “You’re zenned out.” And from that moment on, I was hooked.
If you’re thinking about going to a hot yoga class, there are a few things that you should know. It’s not as scary as it seems so long as you prepare well.
1. Prepare your body for your first hot yoga class a day in advance. Drink a lot of water the day before you go- at least 8 ounces. If you’re going to an afternoon class, eat breakfast and lunch, but refrain from eating 2 hours before the class. If you’re going to a morning class (7 am – 9:30 am), make sure you eat dinner the night before. The day of your morning class, you probably shouldn’t eat breakfast (it could make you nauseous), but if you must eat something in the mornings, have something really light.
2. What to wear: light clothing! I usually wear a sports bra; a tank top; and, leggings or shorts that cover my bum. If you’re a girl, you’ll want to wear a sports bra that you don’t mind other people seeing, because once that heat gets to you, you will have no shame during your workout and that sweat-soaked tee-shirt will be thrown off mid-workout. A lot of people in my class wear leggings or yoga pants. Some people even wear cute patterned leggings that you can buy for a pound or so at Primark. Don’t get sucked into the insanely overpriced yoga pant industry though. No matter what claims they make (“bonded seams that hug your skin!” “ten-way stretch fabric!” “transforms you into a zen master goddess with a third eye!”), those pants are not going to help you bend any better or breathe any deeper. And that’s what yoga’s about. It’s a minimalist workout, and that’s why I love it. All you need is yourself and your mat.
3. What to bring: a towel and a bottle of water. Most studios provide a mat, but I do think a towel is important to bring. I personally use a towel to cover the yoga mats because a) I don’t know how often they wash those things, and I have sensitive skin and b) because the towel has little grips on the underside that help me do my poses better. If you sweat a lot, your mat can get wet, but a towel over your mat will catch any drips. I bought this cheapie one on Amazon for £8.90, and it works well. Yoga mat towels can be as expensive as £50- again, don’t buy into the hype. You can use a regular old £2 towel from Tesco, and it’ll do the trick. Another thing that you may want to bring is a small hand towel to wipe your face and body with mid-workout.
If you’re interested in hot yoga classes, but deterred by the price of studios in the area where you live, keep an eye out for promotions, coupons, and groupons. I waited until the price of the 6-month unlimited hot yoga pack at my studio went down from £50 a month to £35, and snapped up that offer then. Before that, I just went when I could.
I try to go to hot yoga two to three times a week, and I usually go in the mornings to the 7:30 am or 7:45 am class. I wouldn’t call myself a morning person, but I find that doing hot yoga early works better with my schedule and helps me to better structure my day. It forces me to get up early and makes me more productive overall- which is crucial, as exams are coming up in June.
If you’re thinking about working out early in the mornings, but you’re not a morning person, here’s a tip: prepare everything that you will need in the morning. I mean everything. Have your gym bag packed, have your clothes laid out, make sure your hair is done the way you want it in the morning, and put your bus pass, cell phone, keys and whatever ID you need to get into the gym on the counter. You may even want to sleep in your (clean) workout clothes to make it that much easier on yourself. Put your socks in your shoes. I’m lazy, so I get up 10 minutes before I have to catch the bus, speed-dress, brush my teeth, splash some water on my face, scrape on some deodorant (lol), and I’m out the door.
The bus that I take usually arrives around 6:45 or so, and it’s always full. I usually have to go up the stairs to the upper level of the bus, and for some reason that floor is always crowded with men at that particular time. I think they all must work in a similar field. Today I went to yoga class, and there was one woman out of twenty people on the top floor. I sat next to her. Let me tell you, at that point of the day, I have zero tolerance for weak pick-up lines and slimy small talk. (Actually, to be honest, I never have tolerance for that sort of crap regardless of the time of day.) I think that men often forget that woman are human beings. A couple of days ago, while at school waiting for my flatmate to take the tube together to a conference, a guy crossed the street, came up to me, and creepily breathed into my ear “hey shorty” and walked off. Seriously?! Newsflash to the men of the world: this is not the way you approach women. We are people like you! Talk to us the way you want to be talked to- with respect (and non-creepiness)! Anyways. Digressing. What are we talking about? Right, yoga.
(photo credit: http://www.embraceyoga.co.uk/)
I like that yoga is not a competitive sport. Every time we do a pose, the instructor shows us a modification that we can do instead if we cannot do the full pose. Sometimes, though, even after the instructor shows us the simpler modification, people (myself included) struggle to do the real pose so not to be seen as weak or inept. Today in class, while we were supposed to be doing shoulder stands, the instructor said, “Do not feel bad if you cannot do the pose. Not everyone can do everything. Not even teachers can do everything. Everyone’s body is different. Do what’s right for you.” I think that that’s so true– not only about yoga, but about life in general.
I also like doing hot yoga in the mornings because it’s a time when I’m just me, and I’m just being. It’s a much-needed break from the stress and hectic lifestyle that I lead later in the day- when I have to be a smart student, a competent employee, a cooperative classmate, a dutiful volunteer, a promising career candidate… I don’t have to be all of those things. I can just be.
I think that a lot of times we forget to invest time in taking care of our bodies. We focus on investing in our academic career, our professional ambitions, our financial goals. But we forget to take a step back and pay attention to our bodies, which should be priority #1. There’s only one thing you can rely on having your entire life, and that’s your body. Take care of it. Invest in it. Feed it well, and work it out!
Have you gone to a hot yoga class before? Did you like it? Are you thinking of going to a hot yoga class for the first time? Comment below!