Hot Yoga: A Beginner’s Guide

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I’ve had my fair share of variety when it comes to fitness classes. I’ve always found motivation in being surrounded by others while working towards a common goal. Whether I was swimming laps for hours with the swim team, sweating my face off during spin class, or making a huge fool of myself at Zumba, I always found myself enjoying those group classes.

When it comes to yoga, I’d be the first to tell you that I wasn’t a fan. Too slow, too boring, not intense, no gain were all mantras that rang in my head while trying to touch my toes. If you have caught yourself thinking how I did, maybe you just haven’t found the right kind of yoga. I think I found mine… and it’s hot yoga.

This is the LAST yoga I thought I would enjoy seeing that I have a phobia of being too hot and passing out. But there’s a yoga studio about 10 minutes from my apartment that my friend Shelby has been raving about and since I’m moving in less than ten days, I thought “ehh why not!” They even have a discount for students so I didn’t feel like it was a huge investment.

So what’s a Hot Yoga Studio really like?

Not intimidating at all! As soon as you walk through the door and confirm your reservation, everyone in charge are extremely welcoming. I took off my shoes, socks, and jacket and followed Shelby into the yoga room. And yes it was warm, but not hot.  Especially while just sitting on our mats before class chatting, the heat felt nice after being freezing all day (thank you April snow).

What do I need?

Water. I actually really enjoyed sweating in the class because I felt like my body was showing me that what I was doing was hard. But anytime you sweat, you must refill with water. During the class the instructor encourages taking breaks and drink water. I brought my insulated S’well water bottle with me to keep the water cold while the room was hot.

Yoga Mat. If you don’t have one don’t worry, you can usually rent it at your studio but call ahead just in case. Or you could run to TJ Maxx and pick one up for around $7. I have two because I buy them like I impulsively buy coffee mugs.

Yoga Towel. You don’t need to bring a yoga towel, but it’s extremely helpful when your hands get sweaty. Slowly sliding from downward dog into plank due to slick hands gets old. So I suggest renting or bringing your own. I got mine at TJ for super cheap!  I just laid it down on top of my mat for extra traction.

A positive attitude. In previous yoga classes I found myself looking at the woman next to me flawlessly standing in tree pose while I wobbled around. It left me feeling competitive, annoyed, and usually scattered. I really hated that part of yoga. But it wasn’t yoga. It was me. Go into your practice as if you were alone. Remember that you are going to focus on your own development and your own practice and your own form of mediation.

What’s the class like?

Each instructor is different which one of the amazing things about hot yoga. Some burn incense while others offer cold cloths to put on your forehead at the end of the class. But generally you’ll go through an hour practice including lots of poses, but nothing too crazy due to the heat.

You’ll sweat a lot and burn more calories in the warm room (I burned 260 for the hour). and even though you’re not attempting to stand on your head, you feel like you’re working hard physically and mentally.

I literally can not describe to you the after yoga feeling I got. I usually get the endorphins flowing during my usual workout but after hot yoga it was better. Shelby and I were talking in the car afterwards and I kept telling her I couldn’t remember what I was stressed about. It felt like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders that I didn’t know that I had. Like walking out after a massage, I felt like I was in a blissful daze!

Got any advice for my first time?

Get there early. Don’t rush into class. Go early and find where you want to lay your mat. Also they might have you sign a waiver so you want to make sure you have time for that as well.

Remember why you’re there. Don’t get caught up in everyone else. Remember your goals for your practice and why you’re there.

Pay ahead of time. I paid a couple days in advance so I knew I would have a space in the class. Also, this way I felt like I had to go or else the broke college kid inside me would have freaked about the money being wasted. My fears and hesitations would have made me chicken out so if that sounds like you, pay early!

Wear what makes you comfortable. Yes it’s hot, but if you don’t feel like going in leggings and a sports bra, then don’t! A moisture-wicking tank will be just fine.

Eat an hour or two before. I was nervous about fainting in the heat, but it’s nothing to worry about if you are prepared. Eat something healthy and filling a bit before class.

Let me know if you plan on going to a Hot Yoga class or if you’ve been before! 


If you go to Iowa State University, don’t be shy to check out Ignite Yoga!

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