As part of our staycation, Bo and I each had the opportunity to suggest workouts. On a whim, I asked if Bo would be interested in taking a hot, power yoga class at Tangerine Yoga, my favorite Brooklyn yoga studio. During the sales pitch, I told him that the studio felt like a boutique in that they provided cold, lavender towels, mats and didn’t have a horrible stench like other yoga studios. I also told him that it’d be a great workout and a nice post-holidays detox since he’d sweat a lot and it would spike his heart rate. What I never expected was for him to leave the class saying that he “loved the practice and their message” and would “definitely be willing to go a few times a month.”
Our first hot yoga experience was a success, but often times, a person’s first experience practicing hot, power yoga can be a nightmare. Whether it’s Bikram or another form of hot yoga, the experience can be overwhelming, miserable and intimidating if a few simple steps aren’t followed. Based on our experience together, here are five tips for your first hot yoga practice.
Invest in or rent a skidless yoga mat cover or at least an extra towel. Once you start dripping sweat, holding a safe and firm grip on your mat becomes very difficult. Wiping your mat in between sequences or covering it with a large, absorbent or “yoga towel” will help ensure you have a safe practice. Slipping can result in injury, so pay the extra few dollars to rent a skidless yoga mat or an extra towel to put on top of your yoga mat. Bo was able to rent a manduka mat from Tangerine for an extra $3 and he said that it was well worth it as it absorbed most of his sweat and gave him a firm foundation. These are three different options of various price points:
Good Karma Mat Towel
Arrive early and use the extra time to introduce yourself to the teacher. Whether you’ve practiced other forms of yoga multiple times or if this is your first time stepping foot in a studio, it’s important to let the teacher know it is your first time practicing hot yoga. The teacher can provide tips and also give you some understanding of what to expect from his or her class. Being aware of your level will also allow the instructor to provide the best adjustments possible and more guidance and direction to ensure you are able to follow the class. We arrived to the studio ten minutes early on Saturday which allowed ample time for Bo to introduce himself to the teacher, acclimate to the heat and relax.
Situate your mat in the back next to a wall. Much to my surprise, when I walked into the studio on Saturday, I found that Bo had already reserved what I often consider to be the worst spot in the yoga studio – far back, left corner against the walls. I immediately told him that I thought we should move in order to have the best class possible. But, then he explained that for a beginner, this was the best spot. By being in the back of the class, he could easily follow other students through the flow while not worrying that others would judge or watch his form. In addition, in the hot yoga class, having two walls near you means that you have half as many people dripping sweat on you and your mat.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Not only should you enter the yoga studio with a large bottle of water, but you should also hydrate in advance of class. Do not try taking your first hot yoga class hungover or with only coffee running through your veins. Believe it or not, people lose as much as 32 ounces of water during 60 minutes of exercise. Hot yoga, especially hot power yoga, is an intense practice which will leave you swimming in a puddle of sweat. In order to ensure that you can last the entire class and aren’t at risk of passing out, bring a large bottle of water or coconut water with you to class in addition to sipping on water before class.
Wear the right clothing. One of the things that Bo and I both loved about Saturday’s hot yoga class at Tangerine was that we never felt judged. Hot, power yoga is not the time to be modest and worry about those few extra pounds. Instead, you should focus on the fact that you made it to class and do everything you can do be comfortable. For most people, that means stripping off layers of clothing. People of all shapes and sizes were in the studio enjoying the 60 minutes of intense, physical exercise and emotional release on their mat. No one was staring at what we were wearing and everyone knew that the fewer clothes the better. I sported only a pair of shorts and a sports bra during the class and Bo wore his shortest technical shorts and a light shirt. In addition to sweat wicking top and bottom, an absorbent headband can help keep your hair in place and the sweat out of your eyes!
Your turn: Have you practiced hot yoga? Love it or hate it?