Grab your mat, a towel, and your water bottle. Meet me at hot yoga!
If this is your first time at a yoga class - hot or not, I invite you to read First Yoga Class Must-Haves.
There are those yogis who just won't set foot in a hot yoga studio because they tried it once and didn't like it. And there are those yogis who won't practice any other way. I'm personally right in the middle - I enjoy my practice anywhere.
However, it wasn't until I started teaching at a hot studio that I decided to give this practice another try. I was once one of those yogis who had attempted this practice once or twice and had vowed to never do it again.
My experience was at a Bikram practice and the humidity was just too much for me to bear. I left feeling dizzy and with loss of breath.
But that was my own inner turmoil that got stirred up while being in this room. My mind started to wander - which then became antsy. And I hadn't had much to drink throughout the day before my practice - such a mistake!
With a room temperature of 40C, the heat becomes an added "challenge" - whether you've chosen a Bikram ,Moksha, or any other hot practice. It's a challenge that can either help give your mind some added space to get quiet and focus, or a challenge that can rally up too much thought and anxiety - kicking your fight-or-flight response.
This is where the breath and proper hydration comes in. With the breath, you are prompted by your teacher to take deep inhales and long exhales during each transition of movement - whether you follow the prompts or not, that's entirely up to you.
But with hydration, it's important that you take responsibility for regulating your own body temperature.
It's said that when you use up more fluid than you take in, your body is unable to carry out its daily functions - which you can notice when you go pee. If the colour of your pee is a noticeable orange, you need more water! Unless, of course, there's a multivitamin you're taking but that's beyond the scope of this post.
Proper hydration really depends on the person but a good rule of thumb is that you drink half of your weight in ounces. For example, if you weigh 180lb, your water intake should be 90oz.
Though water is the go-to liquid of choice, and for a good reason, there are other options that can keep you hydrated beyond drinking water to prepare you for a hot class (or any sweaty activity):
• Eat hydrating foods: melon, watermelon, berries, oranges, cucumber, celery. These pack loads of vitamins, minerals, and fibre in addition to water.
• Electrolyte drinks: things like Nuun, and dare I say Gatorade. These are made to help replenish the sodium and potassium lost during sweat.
• Coconut water: same as above, coconut water is a natural way to replenish electrolytes.
When to hydrate is just as important as how to hydrate.
Though the heat can be comforting after you get used it, it's important that you come prepared. Leaving in the middle of practice not only disrupts the flow of the class but it also can leave you at a peak - building up to a certain level in the class and no time to reconnect and centre. Savasana is an important (if not the most important) part of practice after all.