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Ann Pizer

The Hot Yoga Experiment

By July 13, 2010

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This summer, I'm indulging in what I like to call "the hot yoga experiment." I've never taken hot yoga on a regular basis before, but after I examined the schedules from a half dozen or so local yoga studios and triangulated it with the hours my kids are in camp and/or take naps, it turned out there were exactly two classes each week that fit my schedule and both of them are of the heated variety. When I tell people about the hot yoga experiment, they tend to nod their heads knowingly and say, "oh yes, Bikram." But while all Bikram is hot, not all hot is Bikram. The classes I am taking are vinyasa style, but with the heat on. If you are a hot yoga newbie, here are a couple of tips I've picked up:

  • Bring a hand towel to class. Use it to wipe your sweaty brow, hands, etc, whenever necessary.
  • Don't get to class too early. Practicing yoga in a hot room is much more pleasant than just sitting on your mat in a hot room.
  • Try to position your mat away from heater vents (though this may be incompatible with tip #2, since others have figured this out too). It's one thing to be in a hot room, it's another to be directly blasted with hot air every 15 minutes.
  • Do not wear long pants.
  • Enjoy the effects of the heat on your body, making you feel more open and flexible.
  • Add your hot yoga tips in the comments below!

    Comments
    July 14, 2010 at 9:23 am
    (1) Sharon Wells says:

    When you practice in a hot room, always remember to hydrate. Not just with water but with electrolytes (gatorade, ultima, etc.).

    I am a certified Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga Instructor and my classes are done at 90 degrees and the biggest problem for most students is dehydration.

    July 14, 2010 at 10:03 am
    (2) Ann Pizer says:

    Excellent point. Do you suggest people drink during class or just before and after?

    July 14, 2010 at 10:47 am
    (3) G says:

    Long pants can help when you are doing arm balance poses, such as crane. Instructors will get into those in reduce heated classes or level 2 classes. Things get slippery with the sweat so use a beach towel or non-slip yoga towel on your mat, it helps for warrior I, II, and III.

    July 14, 2010 at 11:07 am
    (4) The Hot Yogi says:

    Make sure you program in some ‘me’ time in your schedule for after your class. Hot yoga can be very demanding, and it makes sense to allow some mental and physical downtime after your class. In fact, after your first two or three classes, you may even feel the need for a short sleep, or at least just a period of time to rest and meditate. Remember, the most important tip of all: enjoy!

    July 14, 2010 at 12:58 pm
    (5) Ann Pizer says:

    Good point about wearing long pants to prevent slipping. I just get so much hotter in them.

    July 14, 2010 at 6:29 pm
    (6) Peter Bloom says:

    Rehydrate after class with FRESH, Cold young coconut water! It’s delicious with the perfect electrolyte balance. Go for the fresh out of the nut water as the processed water has been pastaurized (by law) killing the living vibrance and enzymes.

    July 15, 2010 at 4:40 pm
    (7) C-low says:

    I usually take 2 bottles of frozen drinks. One is water and the other Gatorade or soemthing like Gatorade. They thaw during class and at the end, if you chose, you have a something cold to drink and a cold compress!

    July 15, 2010 at 10:22 pm
    (8) J says:

    Great tips, thanks!

    And in terms of hydration, for me, I got headaches a few times after a hot yoga session and even got light-headed during one time. An instructor then told me that I might have sweated too much so my body lost a lot of the ions and electrolytes.

    She suggested me to have an electrolyte drink 1 hour or 1.5 hour before the session. And it works! If you don’t want to drink Gatorade (as it’s high in sugar), try these supplement mix. Just pop into a water bottle and it’s good to go.

    Emergen-C
    http://www.emergenc.com/

    Happy yoga’ing, everyone!

    July 16, 2010 at 1:26 pm
    (9) Anita says:

    I did hot yoga 5 times in one week about 2 years ago and lost 2 pounds – wasn’t even trying to. I really enjoyed it.

    I would recommend doing this at a time when you don’t have to be somewhere afterward. Even if you take a shower you are still so warm and flushed that I’d rather just head home! (Of course, I did it in the summer).

    July 20, 2010 at 12:10 pm
    (10) Patricia Johnston says:

    If you have respiratory problems (i.e. any form of COPD), this is not for you! I have a lung disease and this environment makes it very hard to breathe. I do practice Hatha and Vinyasa at room temperature and have no problems. To the best of my knowledge, any weight loss is water loss only.

    July 20, 2010 at 1:00 pm
    (11) Dr. Kelli Harrington says:

    Thank you for pointing out that all hot yoga is not Bikram! Yes, hot vinyasa is a killer workout and a transformational process when practiced consistently.

    Thank you! Namaste!

    July 20, 2010 at 1:30 pm
    (12) Emily says:

    I ONLY wear long pants to hot yoga. I sweat too much to even think about getting a grip on my shins without them!

    I try to drink at least 100 oz of water during the day when I will be attending class in the evening but I don’t drink a whole lot during the class.

    The school I attend (Sunstone Yoga) has 90 degree classes and 98.6 degree classes. On the 98 degree days I always drink a couple packets of EmergenC because otherwise I have experienced dizziness, heat exhaustion and nausea.

    I love love hot yoga and feel great after every class!

    July 20, 2010 at 2:05 pm
    (13) shelly says:

    I love love LOVE (yes, really) doing Bikram yoga, but there are no studios anywhere in my state…so when I go on vacation it’s to Bikram every day. I teach hatha at several studios and have owned my own studio also. If I could afford the money and the time commitment, I would do Bikram teacher training.

    July 20, 2010 at 8:46 pm
    (14) Pepper says:

    I’ve been practicing hot yoga for four years now. In my country, I do it in a gym and we maintain an average of 36-38 degrees. And yes we practice vinyasa flow. One major reason why I enjoy these classes is it’s never the same routine. We add on poses as we progress and the teachers are not so strict. We can drink water in the middle of the class and rest if we need to unlike in Bikram. We are able to push or challenge ourselves better without fear of injuries.

    August 19, 2010 at 4:12 pm
    (15) gin says:

    I, too, have fallen in love with hot yoga–but I disagree with a few of your tips! First of all, wiping sweat away will only cause you to sweat even more, which makes you lose hydration faster. Also, getting to class early will help you relax and loosen up before you try to jump straight into your poses. And as some other people have already noted, long pants definitely help with gripping.

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