First times can be stressful. And I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little more than anxious the first time I waltzed into a hot yoga class, also known as a Bikram Yoga class.
I remember schlepping through snow in upstate New York, changing into spandex at the local yoga studio, entering that heated room and thinking, "Oh God, what have I done?"
Having always lived in cold places up to this point, I didn't know if I could handle the 104 °F temperature (40 °C). But I stuck out that first class, and then another, and then another. And soon I found I was looking forward to that sensation of heat wafting over me whenever I walked into class. Plus it's pretty cool what a little heat and humidity can do for your flexibility.
From the mouths of veterans who've found their way to loving hot yoga, here are tips they want newcomers to know.
"Make sure you are well-hydrated"
"You can only absorb about 1/4 of a liter ever 15 minutes, so don't chug, drink slowly."
"Get plenty of water throughout the day, but don't drink RIGHT before you go in -- you want that water to absorb so it's not all sloshy in your stomach. It can get uncomfortable during forward bends to have a bunch of water in there."
"Don't eat anything 2-4 hours before the class. If you have to get something before hand, make it a bland, easy snack like a banana."
"Also pee right beforehand so that stocking up on water doesn't make your bladder uncomfortable either."
"You're going to want a water bottle, towel and maybe a headband to keep the sweat out of your eyes."
"Also consider bringing a large towel to put over your mat. During my first hot yoga class I didn't have a towel on my mat and I slipped all over the place. Your studio may have towels available to rent, too."
"An extra change of clothes is recommended as well -- you will be SOAKED."
"If you're feeling overwhelmed by the heat, your teacher should be fine with you taking child's pose (or any other resting pose) if you need to get centered. Take your time here if you need to, it's your practice, not anyone else's."
"With the muscles all warm and loosey goosey you can sometimes overdo things."
"If your feet start cramping, you're probably dehydrated and need more water and electrolytes before your next class. Up your potassium intake."
"Just remember it takes anywhere from 2-10 classes to get used to the heat, depending on how hot it is and if they pump in humidity. If you start getting lightheaded or dizzy, just lay down and hold your bottle of water on your wrists. If you leave the room, you cease acclimation."
"Keep breathing! Don't take it too seriously and enjoy the time you're taking for yourself. Leaving a hot yoga class and stepping outside into some fresh air is pretty invigorating for me and I hope you leave feeling similarly!"