Sweat Safely - 10 tips for your first hot yoga class
Want to try hot yoga but don’t know where to start?
Here are 10 tips to help you Sweat Safely
I am not a doctor, but I do know one thing. The human body was designed with a built in temperature gauge to torch bacteria & to help the cells to burn out disease. We get a fever for a reason. But what about the little things. The things that are draining our precious energy, but aren't strong enough to give us a full blown fever? Sri Pattibhi Jois taught that you must boil the blood to cook out disease. Just like the process of purifying dirty water to becoming safe to drink, one must boil the water within the body to be healthy. The great yogis have taught that one must heat the body up through a yoga system that produces a great amount of sweating. Heating up the body for healing is nothing new. "Give me a chance to create a fever and I will cure any disease,” said the great ancient physician Parmenides.
The science of sweating
Sweating is induced by a process called Hyperthermia. Hyperthermia is when ones body temperature that is higher than normal. High body temperatures are often caused by illness such as fever. Hyperthermia can also be used for healing. The use of heating a patient up to induce sweating has been used since the beginning of time. Heat Shock therapy has been discovered to be incredibly healing to the body. Watch a video here http://youtu.be/aHOlM-wlNjM
I walked into my first hot yoga class as a New Years resolution on 1-1-2000. It was Y2K and I had to do something about the way my life was going. My friend was going and asked me to join her. My first class didn't come with a training manual, or a guide book, or even a what to expect brochure. I didn't know what to wear, and lululemon didn't exist back then. I know Hot Yoga is always attracting new students, so I created this guide to help make it easier for you to join us and sweat safely today. Hot yoga is nothing new. Hot yoga is popular worldwide and that is because it works! So you just got invited to a hot yoga class
Here are my tips to help you Sweat Safely
Drink a lot of water. Water, pure water. Not tea, soda or coffee. Not flavored water or ice water and not sparkling water. You need to drink pure, clean water before your class. I suggest drinking 32 oz. of room temperature water upon waking. And then another 32 oz. of water a 1/2 hour or more before your class. Its best to use a water filter at home so you can be assured that you are getting pure, clean water without additives or plastic residue. Water to the Hot Yoga practitioner becomes a part time job. The water you drink is not just to replace what you will lose in sweating, this water will help improve the circulation and assist in the detoxification of your body. It’s great for weight loss as well. Many times we think we are hungry and we are usually just thirsty. If you aren’t carrying a water bottle around with you, you are probably dehydrated. Drinking during the class may actually make the class harder, as it awakens digestion, which is depressed during the thermoregulation process.
Don't get Delhi Belly
Don’t eat before yoga class. With all that water how can you eat? If you take a morning class, wake up, drink your water, and perhaps eat a watery piece of fruit or juice. It’s not a good idea to drink a pot of coffee & have a bagel before your first yoga class. The coffee will jack you up and raise your heart rate too high, only making the class more challenging. And that bagel, well, it turned to glue in your stomach and may cause lots of nausea. The reason you don’t want to eat before yoga classes is simple. Because of the thermoregulation and the raising of the heart rate we are playing with the fight & flight response in class. When the body is in fight or flight mode, the digestion goes on the back burner, and food causes indigestion because it’s not being metabolized in the class. We suggest not eating 3-5 hours before class. Now some people take that too far, and they don’t eat all day, run 6 miles & then come to yoga class. This person may have a hard time because the blood sugar may drop. You may need some sugar in your blood so you can maintain your balance. A Juice, an apple or a banana. I suggest drinking a protein shake.
No bikinis please!
Dress appropriately. We don’t suggest yoga pants for our yoga classes. Yoga pants are the new sweat pants but don't wear them to actually sweat in! There are some awesome new products on the market made out of bathing suit material. They are tight and don’t hold the sweat. For this reason, we don’t suggest wearing cotton and don’t definitely don't wear a baggy t-shirts. What is good to wear is a tank top and leggings. Men do well with swim trunks. But please, no speedos and ladies, please don’t show up in your bikini. Too little clothes allows the sweat to fly all over the place & you may be too slippery. So what do you wear? Think board shorts for the men and leggings & a tank top for the girls.
Bring a towel. I say this to everyone, bring a towel. And they show up with a facecloth. You need to bring a large beach towel. Think of the one that you would throw on your chaise lounge or bring to the beach. The towel should cover most of your body when you lay on it while doing the postures on your back. Perhaps bring two towels. We rate our classes on how many towels are needed to soak up the sweat. Like "two towel Tuesday's".
You WILL be DIZZY
Expect to be nauseous, dizzy, maybe hallucinate. Seems kind of funny, but everyone experiences nausea, stomach upsets, and may even see stars in a hot yoga class. In some ways it’s our fear of feeling this that makes it worse. I try to think that I’m dizzy because the yoga is working. The practice is constantly squeezing the body, and pushing the blood up to the head. The super high oxygen levels also make someone feel dizzy. It’s your choice whether you decide this is a good or a bad sensation. It’s only a temporary feeling, and the more you control your breathing, and the stronger your mind, and the fitter your body gets, the less dizzy you will feel. The healthier you get from the practice, the more these symptoms seem to subside. You master your body! Yay!
Get to class early so you can get into the back row- Rushing to yoga class and showing up late is not only disturbing to others, but its very stressful for you as well. Make the time to get to class early, change your clothes, sign in to the class, and find a good spot in the back row. Many students show up 20-30 minutes early to class and allow their bodies to acclimate to the heat. This might work for you as well. Warm up, start to get into your body & breathe, will allow you to meet the other students and you can get some great tips from them. Speeding to yoga class and cutting people off to be on time isn't recommended.
Relax, nothing is under control
Don’t try everything in your first class- Many first time students experience the ego pressures to do everything in the class. Don’t fall into this trap. You don’t have to externally do everything. The best advice I can give everyone in their first class is to give the poses only 50% while you give your breathing 100%. It’s challenging to listen to the teacher and try to think your way through everything, especially since you don’t have the understanding of what expected of you, or what your body can actually do. Breathe more, give yourself permission to rest, and slowly try to approach the entire class, rather than thinking you have to do everything in your first day. It’s a relief knowing yoga isn’t like the gym. Nobody is judging you or trying to compete. Resting may be the greatest challenge in a yoga class, and may actually be the most beneficial for your health.
Stay in the room. Many people get very uncomfortable in a hot yoga class and may feel the need to run. I suggest stay with that feeling and simply sit down and work on your breathing, or just lie down until your body can recalibrate and settle down. If you think that you have to run out then that thought will always give you a way to escape. We don’t suggest running. We suggest learning to trust your breath and exercise your will power to help calm you down. Then you will have this tool ready for you in life, when the heat is on and you want to run, now you learn to stay and change your inner state.
Just breathe. I am always teaching my students to breathe, and I still always find students holding their breath and trying to push too hard in the poses. This not only feels terrible, may make you really dizzy & nauseous, but this also may lead to injuries. It’s a good practice to count your breaths. I use a 6 count inhale & exhale. It seems like we have been trained to push our body and our mind so much in our culture that we forget to breathe. It’s very easy to forget to breathe. Hot crazy is that? We forget to breathe. Yoga helps you breathe better awake and conscious, as well as asleep!
En lighten upppp
Have a light heart. Don’t judge yourself too much. Stop thinking you look like an idiot and it’s too hard. Anything new is hard, get past your conditioned thinking. We all fell learning to stand, it's so good we didn’t have these negative thoughts then. Enlighten up, Stop projecting onto yourself, the teacher, the heat, the others and just take responsibility for your breathing. Just focus on what is happening with your breath and your mind, your thoughts, and how you feel will shift. Yoga leads to inner peace, not simply making ourselves look like everyone else. Our minds may so effected by our culture that we don’t even see it. Just take a chill in a hot yoga class and let the sweat melt your body & the heat relax your mind.