I’ve been practicing yoga for about a month now, hot yoga I should add, and now my body, mentally and physically, craves it. I’ve always been athletic and seem to fit the mold of a yogi, health conscious, earth friendly, and here I am… just now picking up this beautiful practice. So what is hot yoga?
“Hot yoga is a series of postures practiced in a warm and humid environment. Temperatures range from 75-105 °F (24-41 °C). The warmth allows you to :
- stretch your muscles deeper than they would otherwise with less danger of injury
- detoxifies and cleanse your body via sweat.” – Source
But before I could start to feel like a real yogi, I had to learn a some tips to make it all fall into place. I wasn’t ready to understand Crow and Pigeon until I had the proper tools and understanding that allowed me to forget about everything else and focus on just yoga.
Its hot, and humid, you’re trying to catch your breath, while wiping the sweat out of your eyes, quickly before the teach tells you to, “raise your hips! downward dog” Boy, I’ve been here…forgetting my breathing and just trying to catch up. But what I’ve learned now is, keep the breath slow and steady and the movements will follow pace. The technique of Ujjayi breath, a slow ocean like breath, is quick to understand, but difficult to practice at first. But the difference it can make is huge! Just practicing it a few minutes a day at your desk will help when you step in the studio.
2. Yoga Mat
Like any other sport, there are so many brands and styles of yoga mats, its an overwhelming task to decide which is best for you. Here’s my suggestion, which I mistakenly did myself, but worked to my benefit.
I bought my first yoga mat my first day of class (rushing to class actually..) It was a steal at $8, and was my favorite color, perfect. First class, I realize hot yoga makes you sweat like your walking through a rain forest with a trash bag on. And with all that sweat, I realized I need a towel over top or a better mat. Next class I opted for a towel over that mat. Still working ok… Second class, happy baby makes my back want to cry and cat/cow is killing my knees. No towel is helping for this one. This cheap mat was just that, cheap. But a good learning tool. By buying the cheaper mat first I could figure out what I really needed to help my practice.
Now that I’ve decided I was serious about yoga, I have some key features I know I want in a mat. It must be made for some serious sweat and allow me to grip on without too much difficultly. It has to be at least 4 mm thick, so I can let my joints take a break. And lastly it must be made for some serious wear and tear. After searching for those criteria I’ve found Manduka Pro Lite. It makes all the difference in the world when you aren’t worrying about knees hurting going into a move or slowing sliding back in warrior.
Quick Tip * to clean your yoga mat, mix 2 parts water 1 part witch hazel and 3 drops your favorite essential oil. Spray and wipe down weekly.
So you’ve figured out the mat you want, and although you’ve purchased one to not slide around, there is one more way to make it even better. Yogitoes Skidless Towels come in all sorts of different colors and designs, but I swear by this towel for helping me quickly become addicted to yoga. Regular bath towels only worked for me for about a week, and I got frustrated in class when i would lose focus on a hold because my towel was sliding back. My first day with this towel and I was raving to my roommate, so much I bought her one for her birthday. Trust me, anything to help you focus more on what your doing and less worry and if you’re going to fall, I’m in!
And always bring a regular towel to wipe the sweat out of your eyes. You forget it one time, and I promise you’ll never do it again.
4. Water // Spray Bottle
The weirdest thing I witnessed my first day was people getting their mats or towels wet, I mean weren’t we about to sweat like crazy, is that necessary? YES. As I mentioned before regarding type of mat and the crucial towel to not slip, getting these things damp before the class begins helps you grip onto them better. Sure in a few minutes you’ll be dripping sweat, but those first few minutes are key to getting your body warm and ready, last thing you want it to slip and slide until your sweaty and sticky.
Water should go without saying, but its the timing you drink the water. Sure bringing a bottle to class is perfect for a thirst quencher, but you need to be hydrating a couple hours before you begin. This will ensure you keep hydrated throughout the practice, and will avoid you to feel light headed. Although its normal to feel a bit light headed your first few classes.
5. Get There Early
Make it a point to get to the studio at least 10 minutes early. Take the time to set up your mat and towel, and stretch around, and start to quiet your mind. This is your time to be selfish and not care about anyone or anything, so take all the time you need. I find just laying down the last 5 minutes before you being helps me focus on why I’ve made it to class and prepare myself mentally for the hour challenge ahead. Besides, you rush around all day from one thing to another, but this one, give it some time…
and ALWAYS thank yourself for making it to your mat.