I used to pride myself on my ability to complete the most challenging of workouts without ever breaking a sweat — that is, until I tried hot yoga. Listen to me when I say this: There's absolutely no way any human being with a pulse can exit that furnace of a yoga studio without being completely soaked in their own sweat. And, believe me, I'm not trying to scare away any of you first-timers. The reality is, there are a few things to remember the first time you do hot yoga — you know, so you don't channel some major Wicked Witch of the West vibes by low-key melting away into oblivion while you're on your mat.
Hot yoga is, without a doubt, very challenging. In the OG version of hot yoga, otherwise known as Bikram, the room is always set to a toasty and humid 105 degrees Fahrenheit — so, uh, you could say things are going to get a little bit heated during your practice.
As uncomfortable as that sounds, though, I can tell you with confidence that hot yoga can be an extremely satisfying experience. Keep these eight things in mind the first time you try it out, and honestly, you might just find yourself coming back to the studio for more.
1. Hydrate And Eat Before Class — But Not Too Much
It's so important to hydrate before every workout, but it's especially crucial if you're going to be sweating buckets in a room that feels like the Sahara. Bikram yoga teacher, Corinne Idzal, told MindBodyGreen,
If you are properly hydrated, and have an empty stomach (not especially full of toxins that day), the class should not be a huge struggle.
Basically, if you're hungry before heading to your class, eat a light snack. A Chipotle burrito probably won't sit very well in your stomach, but a banana with peanut butter should fill you up and be easy on your system while you're sweating it out. In terms of fluids, make sure you're hydrating with lots of electrolytes spread throughout the day leading up to your hot yoga sesh.
2. As Great As Leggings Are, They're Now Your Enemy
As much as you might adore your go-to pair of Lululemon leggings, they're no longer in the lineup for your hot yoga apparel. In fact, some people wear literal bikinis to hot yoga — that's how hot things get in that room.
Bottom line: Less is more when it comes to your clothing choice here, my sweet yogis. But if you're uncomfortable stripping down to nothing but a bikini, a pair of comfy short-shorts and a sports bra will work just fine.
3. Bring A Big Water Bottle With You
It's really important that you lug your biggest water bottle along with you to your first hot yoga class to make sure you're sliding into #DehydrationNation real fast. Idzal told MindBodyGreen,
When a student is having a hard time in general, this can be a sign of dehydration and/or loss of electrolytes. Signs are: tiredness, dizziness, they’re not sweating enough, and/or their muscles are cramping.
Side-step that discomfort and dizziness by taking small sips of water between each pose in your hot yoga class.
4. Don't Forget A Change Of Clothes
There's nothing worse than finding yourself stinky and stuck to the driver's seat on your way out of the hot yoga studio.
Think ahead, and pack an extra outfit to stay dry while you ride that post-yoga high.
5. Scout Out The "Cool Spot" In The Room
When you get to the studio, chat it up with the teacher and ask her where the "cool" spot is in the room, once you guys get all buddy-buddy.
Trust me, there's one of these spots in pretty much every hot yoga studio, and spotting it ahead of time, as a beginner, is a great way to ease yourself into the practice.
6. Drop Your Expectations
Try to let go of the fear that you'll pass out or overheat during the class, because honestly, it usually doesn't happen.
At the same time, don't think that you're going to be ~transformed~ by the practice on your very first try. Keep an open mind, and above all, remember to stay in the present moment.
7. Try Your Best To Stay In The Room
According to LIVESTRONG, a typical hot yoga class lasts about an hour and a half — I know, that's a long time for any workout, but especially for one that takes place in a room that's over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
While most hot yoga teachers will likely advise you to stay in the room for the entire duration of the class so you can fully reap the detoxifying benefits of the practice, this doesn't necessarily mean you have to be moving and following the teacher's instructions the whole time. Restorative asanas like corpse pose and child's pose are always available to you, if and when you feel like you need a moment. You can literally stay in these asanas for the entire class, if that's what your body needs to be able to adjust to the heat!
And, if you really need to leave, for whatever reason, don't be ashamed. Listen to your body, and know your limits.
8. Stay With Your Breath, And Move Slowly After Class
Your breath is your most valuable tool during any yoga practice, but it's especially key when you're in the brand new, kind-of-extreme conditions that come with a typical hot yoga class.
Breathe deeply throughout the experience, and draw out your exhales to calm your nervous system. When the practice is over, take your time to get up and leave — that way, you'll avoid any unpleasant head rushes. Bask in the post-flow endorphins, instead.