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Curious about cupping? So was I. As a copywriter who makes a career out of sitting at a desk all day long, my posture is pretty pissed at me most days—leading to chronic back, shoulder, and neck pain. When I started up weekly deep tissue massages, my masseuse asked me at the end of our session if I had ever tried cupping. That’s where my exploration into the world of this traditional medicine began.
If you’re a novice to this healing practice like I was, here are a few things to know before you book your first appointment!
While I’m well versed in the art of deep tissue massages, I knew essentially nothing walking into my first cupping session. What exactly *is* cupping, anyway?
Think of it as the opposite of a massage. Stay with me. Instead of applying pressure to the muscles, cupping uses suction to lift your fascia—if you didn’t know this word don’t worry, neither did I—which are the connective tissues in your body and your muscles. This suction creates healthier fascia, which equals more flexibility and improved muscle recovery.
Don’t let the red marks fool you; cupping isn’t painful. I’ll be honest, going into my first session I was pretty nervous about how my sensitive skin would react. I can honestly tell you that while the sensation was odd, it didn’t hurt at all.
You’ll feel a tightness in the area of the cup, and usually, the sensation is really relaxing. For my first experience, my practitioner used glass cups—instead of silicone—and a (completely safe) fire cupping technique. In total, the whole thing took about 10 minutes. Think friendly octopus.
Starting my research into cupping was overwhelming. There are several different methods, but the ones most practiced are:
- Moving Cupping: This form of cupping involves the practitioner applying oil to your skin before putting on the cups and then sliding them up and down your back. This is usually the type of cupping I do because it has a larger focus on the back.
- Fixed Cupping: For this type of cupping, the cups are applied and left in specific areas for a few minutes. This tends to be a stronger treatment, bringing up a lot of stagnation in the body, so it’s not always recommended for first-timers.
There are many types of cupping with glass, silicone—and even bamboo cups—used. Don’t know where to start? Talk with your practitioner at the beginning of your session. I spent 5 to 10 minutes before even laying down chatting with my practitioner about all of my symptoms so she could figure out the best technique. Don’t be afraid, speak up for your wellness!
Probably the biggest deterrent from starting cupping was seeing the gnarly marks people posted on their Instagram after a session. While my first experience looked like that friendly octopus went to town on my back, I was pleasantly surprised that it faded after 4-5 days.
My practitioner shed some wisdom on the subject, telling me that it all depends on the person and how static their fascia is. For me, I’m very tight (hence the back pain and constant need for massages), so it takes a little longer to fade back to normal. But for others with more active fascia, they don’t even show any marks, or it can fade after a day. Regardless of how long it takes, I like to think of it as a wellness badge of honor–a symbol of my lifelong commitment to improving my well-being, marks and all.
Last, but certainly not least, finding an experienced practitioner who you trust is key. I’ve been getting deep tissue massages for a little over a year now and only found two practitioners that I’ve connected with. When you feel a good vibe, and can fully trust someone with such an important task of your everyday wellness, keep them in your weekly routine.
While I know appointments like deep tissue massages and cupping are a privilege not everyone can partake in, they have both done amazing things for my physical and mental health. Not only has cupping helped improve my fascia and overall circulation, but it also has been an active part of my self-care routine and shown me that I am worth the work.
Interested in cupping? Book your first appointment on the Mindbody app! Prioritize your wellness and find a service you love, wherever you are.
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.