Everything You Wanted to Know About Hot Yoga But Were Too Afraid to Ask

Yes, you will sweat. A lot.
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Everything You Wanted to Know About Hot Yoga But Were Too Afraid to Ask

Yoga is making a comeback of sorts. The ancient discipline has been around for centuries but recently landed at seventh place in the American College of Sports Medicine's top 2019 fitness trends making it "hot" again. Speaking of hot, if you've wanted to kick your yoga practice up a notch, you might want to give hot yoga a try. 

Bikram yoga, hot yoga, sweaty yoga...whatever you want to call it, is a sure-fire way to tone and challenge your body whether you're a seasoned yogi or beginner. So if you're looking to sweat -- and trust us, you're gonna sweat -- while also getting your zen on, here's what you need to know about hot yoga before hitting the mat. 

How Hot Is Hot?

"Hot yoga" generally refers to Bikram, Moksha, and heated Vinyasa classes where temperatures can range from 90 degrees Fahrenheit to 105 degrees.

Yes, you will sweat. A lot. 

What to Wear?

While there's no need to shell out major cash for a stylish pair of Lululemon (unless you want to) you should take into consideration that you're going to sweat a lot in class. That's why you want to look for light materials that will easily absorb sweat. Skip heavy t-shirts for a close-fitting tank top or bra that's both comfortable, supportive, and leaves you feeling as dry as possible. Shorts are a good option, too. If you're going to wear leggings, avoid cotton and other heavy material.

What to Bring?

You will definitely want to bring a yoga mat, two towels, and a bottle of water. 

Why two towels? Hot yoga is designed to make you sweat, and given the heated room, you'll probably be dripping with it by the time you hit your third pose. You'll need a towel to cover your mat to absorb the moisture so you're not slipping and sliding throughout the class. Bring an extra towel to wipe the sweat from your brow and bod. 

And, of course, you need to water to stay hydrated. Rather than chugging on H20, take small sips every fifteen to twenty minutes, or whenever you need it so that you avoid cramping and feeling nauseated. 

What to Eat Before Class?

Since you're sweating a ton, it's important to be mindful of your electrolytes before class. Electrolytes are mainly made up of potassium, sodium, magnesium, chloride, bicarbonate, phosphate, and sulfate. You lose electrolytes when you sweat, so if you haven't properly nourished or hydrated your body before a workout, you risk fatigue and getting muscle cramps. 

While you don't want to eat a full meal before doing a series of downward dogs (talk about uncomfortable!), you can keep your body well fueled with a light snack like a green smoothie that's chockfull of fats, protein, and carbs. Even a snack of a banana with peanut butter, which is another good source of protein, carbs, fats, and potassium, is a great option. 

Aim to eat 60-90 minutes before your class so you feel energized but not full. And don't forget to drink water! Drinking water throughout the day, or at least finishing off one S'well bottle 45-30 minutes beforehand, allows your body to absorb water before you hit the studio. 

When Should You Get There?

The earlier, the better. Or at least fifteen minutes before class. Not only do you want to claim a decent spot in the studio but you'll also want your body to get used to the heat. If you're not accustomed to hot temperatures, then you'll need time adjusting to the humidity. Allow yourself some time to acclimate and breathe. Also, don't be afraid to tell your instructor that you're new to the practice. If you have any questions for them while you're there, ask. 

What to Do After?

Now that you're dripping with sweat, you'll want to hit the showers to wash away any of the toxins that your body has released. If you don't, they'll just sit on your skin and result in acne. Even a quick five-minute shower is all you need. 

Also, make sure you bring an extra bra and top so that you'll have something warm and clean to wear -- the outdoor air will feel extra cold.

Hydrate yourself with eight to sixteen ounces of water within 30 minutes of class. Coconut water is a good alternative since it's filled with electrolytes, which you've just sweated out. Grabbing a handful of dried fruits and nuts, which are easy sources of protein, sodium, and potassium, is also an awesome post-hot yoga snack.  

Give Yourself a Break

Hot yoga is a challenging practice for anyone who's starting out. Don't be hard on yourself if you find it difficult at first. For example, if you need to take a break, don't hesitate to skip a pose and chill out in child's pose. Yoga is a practice, which means there's nothing to conquer or achieve; it's an experience that differs each time you hit your mat. 

When properly prepared and nourished, and with a gentle mindset, you'll see that hot yoga is no sweat. 

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