Tuesday, March 20, 2012

If You Can't Handle The Heat... Get Out Of The Yoga Studio!

Hot Yoga

DISCLAIMER: I am not a "yogi" and I definitely am not as amazing at yoga as the people out there who study it for years!  I love the workout, the sweat, the stretch and the peace of mind I feel after!  So, this is not coming from a pro... Just a random chick who likes hot yoga.
I've been going to hot yoga (different than Bikram yoga, I believe, because the practice is just done in heat) classes on and off since high school.  Only recently have I been learning to breath better and use my breath to push through hard poses.  All this sounds very "yogi" but truth is, I don't care about my third eye, I just want to be toned!  But I do love the heat part and getting to sweat out all your toxins.  Every time I go with a new person they almost always fall in love with it.  
Well, today during yoga class someone actually walked out in the middle of the practice!  I wanted to shout at the person and say, "you just did all the hard stuff and you're leaving before the easy stuff??"  Then I realized that people probably have no idea what to expect when coming to a hot yoga studio... So I'm going to tell all of you my tips for making it through and actually enjoying hot yoga!  Even if you don't buy into the whole "mind's eye" concept. 

What to expect:
It will be hot; above 90'F!  Good news is that it's not a sticky humidity feeling, it is much more like a sauna.  Get there a little early so that you have some time to adjust to the heat and sign up.  Most classes are an hour or more.  Stretch until your class starts!  The heat seriously helps to release tight areas.  Lay out your things near your mat, grab a block and just "get present".  
When your class starts, usually in child's pose, your teacher will start to instruct you on how to breath.  You breath in and out through your nose.  
Breath IN for length and OUT for openness 
You will sweat.  A lot.  You will sweat more than any other workout!  Just accept it and know that your clothes will be drenched and so will everyone else's.  Most yoga consists of a "strength" section where you do a lot of arm work and downward dogs.  This is where you will start to feel the cardio part of hot yoga.  Small movements will get your heart rate up and stay up.  Then there is a balancing section followed by back bends and sometimes abs.  The sessions I've been to, the teacher will come around and help you moderate poses.  They might touch you, and no you don't have to apologize for being sweaty!  The good news is that after the "strength" section most teachers mix in rest periods throughout the rest of the practice.  But know this, YOU CAN ALWAYS TAKE CHILD'S POSE whenever you need a rest.  You can always pause to wipe some sweat away and sip your water, too!  The end of the practice is the "sweet spot" is because you literally get to lay on the ground and knock a few minutes out of the way.  There are almost always a few men in each class, so guys, don't be shy!

What You Need:
- Yoga mat (most studios also have them available to rent)
- Hand towel (to wipe away sweat)
- Water bottle
- Mat length towel
- Dry t-shirt for after
- An open mind!
** I recommend "thirsty towels" for hot yoga.  They absorb a lot of sweat and stay pretty dry.  I have a hand towel one and a mat length one.  I lay the mat length one on the mat before I start and just leave it there the whole practice.  I use them to dry my dogs after their baths too!

My Tips:
- If you can, avoid chugging water during the workout, small sips are better.  I actually will feel kind of sick if I even sip water, so I just save it for after.
- Get over the fact that you're going to look like hell when you leave.  Make time for a shower before you have to be anywhere else.
- I wear old dance leotards and tighter workout capris.  Some girls wear sports bras, some people wear shorts, it's just a matter of what you're comfortable in.  But don't wear baggy clothes!!! 
- Participate in the "OHMs" because it does kind of wake up your body a little bit.
- Try getting out of your own head and attempt the breathing whenever it feels comfortable to do! I find that breathing helps the most during sequences involving plank and upward dog.  

Shout out to my favorite hot yoga studio!
Amazing Yoga- South Side! (Pittsburgh, PA)
(they are also in Wexford and Shady Side)
They always make you feel welcome and the teachers are always so great!  

UPDATE: I have been informed that Bikram is a whole different "hot yoga" practice in and of itself and it's done on carpet... So, good luck with that one everyone :) I'll stick to my hot vinyasa!

Anyone out there love yoga and really appreciate the practice?? I want to hear from you!  I want to know what it is that draws people to these retreats and what makes people so dedicated.

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