Bring on the heat.
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As the weather gets cooler in some places, many health and fitness enthusiasts are looking to turn the heat up on their yoga and fitness routines—literally. From yoga and barre to Spin® and HIIT, heated classes are quickly becoming a norm for businesses to offer. Interested in trying out a hot class for yourself? Here are some things to know before you arrive:
H 2 (whoa!)
When it comes to heat, hydration is key. Start drinking water a few hours before class so you don’t feel faint or dizzy during your workout. But don’t drink too much too soon—drinking tons of water right before and during class will likely give you a stomachache. Stick to small sips when you feel like you need it, and save the chugging for a replenishing reward after class.
Bring a towel
This might seem like a no-brainer, but you’ll definitely want a towel (or two) on hand for the heat. For mat classes, it’s usually ideal to have one on your mat so you don’t slip and a smaller one to towel yourself off with. For other classes, you may only need a hand towel to help you cool off during breaks.
Dress for success
While your baggy shorts and t-shirt may be great for running or a gym workout, they can get in the way during a heated class. Form-fitting, breathable clothing is recommended—it won’t inhibit your movement and can help wick sweat. What you should wear differs for each person and class, so try to pick what you’ll feel the most comfortable getting really sweaty in.
Don’t eat beforehand
As with drinking water, eating a lot right before class is more harmful than helpful. The heat can be overwhelming and may make you feel like you might throw up, especially during your first few classes. Try not to eat less than two hours before class, so those nauseous feelings don’t turn into actions. If you do need to eat something, grab some small snacks like crackers or fruit. But don’t forget to keep drinking water with them, too!
Arrive with plenty of time
Make sure you get to your first class early enough for your body to acclimate to the heat. Running in at the last minute and just jumping in can be a shock for your body, not to mention stressful when trying something new. Aim to arrive at least 15 minutes ahead of time. That way, you can go in before class, ask the instructor any questions you have, start adjusting to the temperature and warm up your body.
Scope the cool spots
Most heated rooms have certain spots that are hotter than others. If you’re nervous about your first time, don’t be afraid to ask the instructor where the cooler spots are in the room. You can hang out in those for a bit, and then maybe take it up a notch after a few classes by trying the hot spots.
Listen to your body
Heated classes can be intense—one of the most important things to remember is to listen to your body. There’s no shame in taking a break or easing off some of the movements if you feel like you need to. When it comes down to it, you know what is best for your body and what you’re capable of in that moment. The heat is already adding an element of difficulty, so don’t push yourself beyond what’s right for you.
Embrace the sweat
I’ll be the first to admit: I sweat a LOT. Then add a little heat to my classes and I’m guaranteed to win “most likely to need a shower ASAP.” But the whole point of heated classes is to bring on the sweat, so if you’re like me and look like you just went swimming after class, that’s perfectly okay. Embrace your sweaty self and recognize the positive change that you’re making in your life. Don’t worry or compare yourself to that person next to you who looks like they never broke a sweat. Everyone is different, and the feeling you’ll get once you step outside the room after a heated class is one of the best.
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.
Ready to jump back into your hot yoga routine? Browse Mindbody to find the perfect class for you.
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.