Hot Yoga 101

Hot yoga is...well…hot. For a first timer, even a warm yoga class might make you say whoah. Just like taking a run in the hot summer months, there are three steps to practicing heated yoga safely.

Because heat causes our bodies to lose water and electrolytes, hydrating before, during, and after a heated yoga class is essential. Most of us could use some coaching on keeping our bodies well hydrated, so here goes. Your body can only absorb a half-liter of water per hour. Furthermore, it takes 45-minutes to process water, so draining your entire water bottle right before class is not the most effective approach. Recommended water intake is 3-4 liters paced throughout the day for optimal absorption. When your urine runs clear, or almost clear, you’re well hydrated. And don’t forget electrolytes; coconut water is a great source.

Protect Your Joints
Many of those incessant alignment cues in yoga classes are geared toward learning to protect the integrity of your joints. One of the great benefits of yoga is getting to know your own body more intimately, including identifying the places where you have considerable tightness versus places where you have hyper-mobility, and especially places where you have unstable ligaments and joints. One of the benefits of hot yoga is increased extensibility of soft tissue, allowing for greater flexibility. As you become properly tuned to your body’s needs, you will learn to utilize the assistance of the heat to stretch the places that you know are tight or overused. You will also learn to be cautious of moving too deeply into poses. Listen to your body, and listen to your instructor’s cues. When you feel discomfort, you’re going too far. No teacher can know exactly what you are experiencing or what your limit is, so it is your responsibility to pay attention to the messages your body gives and to stop when you have reached your edge.

Pace Yourself
If you’re new to hot yoga or if you haven’t practiced in awhile, acclimating is a natural part of the process. Consider taking a resting pose during portions of your first few classes. The first principle of yoga is to “do no harm.” You are responsible for how you feel in your practice. The sign of an advanced yogi is not a perfect pose but the courage to treat yourself with kindness. Listen to your body. Pace yourself. And build your endurance with each class.

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