Incorporate this sweat-building list to achieve that post-hot yoga glo
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Cycling has zoomed into popularity in the recent years as a form of cardio that gets your heart pumping. Whether you’ve never tried it before or are a seasoned pro, consider these tips for the best biking experience possible:
It’s ideal to arrive 10–15 minutes early to allow yourself enough time to get comfortable on the bike and start warming up. The bikes are adjustable in multiple places, and the most common adjustment is the height of the seat. Standing next to the bike, raise or lower the seat until it’s in line with your hips. You should be able to sit comfortably on the bike with your arms naturally on the handlebars with a slight bend. If it doesn’t feel like you can bike for 45 minutes to an hour in that position, it’s going to be a long class (and probably a painful one).
Depending on the class and studio, you can either wear normal athletic shoes or cycling shoes. Some studios have straps that hold your regular shoes in, while some require you to have or rent cycling shoes that clip in. Check ahead of time if they specify.
From start to finish, it's crucial to have the proper form. Not only will it maximize your ride and results, by it will also prevent injuries. Riding a bike may seem all about the legs, but your core and arms are equally as important to pay attention to. The core is your secret powerhouse that helps you push and climb your way to a stronger version of yourself. Avoid tensing up your upper back and wearing your shoulders as earrings. Take a second to check out your arms—they shouldn’t splay out towards the side, elbows stay close to your body and slightly bent. Focus on keeping your core rock-solid, upper body loose, back straight and shoulders down throughout class. It seems like a long list, but checking in helps keep you safe and strong.
Each bike has a knob under the handlebars that controls the resistance or "road" for your workout. Your instructor will call out when to turn it up or down, simulating hills or flat road throughout class. Some bikes have visual representations of the level you’re on, some are just a dial. If you don't have a visual way to see where it's at, go by the feel of it. It's important to remember that, though the instructor gives you cues, listen to your own body first. Don’t feel pressured to keep turning the knob just because you are told to—push yourself to your edge, but don't push it to the point of injury or pain.
Although it’s tempting to take off all your road when class gets tough, make sure you aren’t riding with no resistance at all. Sure, it’s a lot easier, but in the end it can be detrimental to your hips and knees. How can you tell if it’s not enough? Hips don’t lie. If you’re pedaling with too little resistance, your hips will bounce all over the place and your knees will look like they’re doing a crazy legs dance. Don’t let the bike do all the work, this is your time to shine and make a positive change.
After all the pushing and pulling, hill climbs and sprints, jumps and hovers, it’s no secret that cycling is a killer lower body workout. As with any intense class, it’s absolutely vital to stretch it out at the end. This not only protects your body, but helps build the muscles you just worked. Don’t skip out on the last five minutes of class saved for stretching and cool down—take some time to reward your body for the work it just did, and save yourself from some pain and soreness later. Although it seems like you mostly used your lower half, be sure to indulge your upper half by stretching your sides and core, as well as your neck and upper back. When it comes down to it, your entire body can benefit from cycling and could use a good recovery so that it can recharge and be ready for the next ride.
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If you’ve ever taken a hot yoga class, you know it’s always going to be one thing—outrageously hot. Not the “let’s hang by the pool and get that sun-kissed glow” kind of hot either. I’m talking that “I can't believe I have this much sweat in my body” and “I may or may not pass out” kind of hot. It’s nothing to mess around with, and after a year or so of not being able to go, it’s easy to forget just how serious that heat can be.
To get the maximum enjoyment and benefits out of your heated yoga classes, you need to prepare yourself before and take care of yourself afterward. Luckily, I’ve been taking some classes (sweating enough for the both of us) and I’ve listed my five favorite must-dos to help you readjust to your heated classes and get back to the hot yoga summer that we all want.
Heated classes are difficult in nature. The normal difficulty of regular poses is mixed in with the added challenges of sweating and dealing with the humidity and the heat (at times, I’ve seen the thermostat climb to 108 degrees—yikes!). Depending on what type of yoga class you’re taking (sculpt, Bikram, power vinyasa), the difficulty level and temperature are going to vary. It’s also important to remember that each person in the room is going to practice in a way that’s unique to them. Hours slept, hydration levels, food intake, and different lifestyles are all contributing factors that make our practices different. What you practice on your mat is your own––trust your body and only do what feels right to you. And remember, it’s okay to take breaks!
The rise in temperature mixed in with the humidity that we all know and love creates the perfect recipe for sweating—like A LOT. You go into a heated class dry and come out feeling like you just took a dip in the pool. Before heated classes, I had no idea it was physically possible to sweat that much. If you’re going to a heated class, especially after a long break, it’s easy to forget just how much you might sweat. Is it possible to lose that much water if you haven’t consumed it first? Trust me, going into your heated class super hydrated is going to make a world of difference and help you feel good throughout your practice. And don’t forget to take some sips of H2O while you’re practicing!
Heated classes are challenging, but I can’t stop going. Nothing quite compares to overcoming the challenge— and experiencing the cleanse my body feels after I’m done. It’s the perfect blend of hard and rewarding, but I couldn’t do it if my body wasn’t properly nourished. On the days I know I have a heated class booked; I like to make sure I am eating right. I make sure to take my vitamins and fuel my body with fruits, vegetables, and my favorite superfood shake. I hold off on food about an hour before my practice, so I feel comfortable. After the class, I like to replenish with a big protein shake (boosted with collagen to aid with muscle recovery and skin elasticity). There is no one-way path for properly nourishing your body but making sure you’re fueled for the challenge of a heated class is essential for getting the most out of your practice and feeling good on and off your mat.
Increasing and maintaining your water intake on the days you take a heated class is important, but sometimes you need something a little extra. If you’re sweating that much, you’re basically an athlete (at least in my book) and if you’re performing like a rockstar yogi, you need to hydrate like one as well. That means replenishing those lost electrolytes. Reward yourself and your body for the hard work and treat yourself to your favorite drink. I switch off between electrolyte-boosting drinks and coconut water depending on what I’m in the mood for that day. Adding these to my post-practice self-care routine has helped me feel more hydrated after and ready to take on the world again after especially sweaty classes.
Usually, a yoga mat is all you need for your practice––but heated classes are a different ballgame. I’ve gone with just a mat, and I’ve slipped all over the place. Let me tell you, there’s nothing worse than having sweat drip all over the place while you’re trying to hold a pose that makes you grip your mat for dear life (never again). Make sure you bring a towel to place over your mat, this will help with support and grip. Bringing a smaller towel is also a good idea. You can use the smaller towel to dry yourself off during water breaks or whenever you’re feeling just a bit too sweaty. This is a small step that makes a world of difference during those super-hot classes.
So, there you have it. Five of my favorite tips (more like lifesavers) that have helped me readjust to those heated classes I love so much. Getting back into it is a challenge for us all, so know you’re not alone. No matter where you’re at in your practice, remember to be kind and gentle to yourself––celebrating your health and your body’s ability to do what you love. We’re all just getting back out there, together.
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While you’re at it, check out some Intro Offers near you that can help you get back to your cadence of hot yoga classes.