Attending your first hot yoga class can be a bit daunting. I still remember my first class at evolation Tampa…. I had no idea what to expect and I showed up in a totally-inappropriate-for-hot-yoga outfit, no water, and no towel. I spent most of my first class confused and uncomfortable… but fell in love with the practice anyway.
To help you make the most of your first hot yoga experience, I’ve compiled a list of how to prepare for and what to expect from your first hot yoga class.
before your first hot yoga class
Arrive well hydrated!
Drink plenty of water throughout the day leading up to your first class. If you’re taking an early morning class, you may want to start hydrating the night before. A hydrated body is able to dispel heat more efficiently, making the 80 to 105 degree room feel much more bearable. However, be careful not drink too much the hour or so before class… you won’t want to leave the room during class, and many of the postures are designed to massage and compress your internal organs, so imagine what that may feel like to a full bladder…
Watch what you eat
Avoid eating at least two hours before class, and eat light, healthy foods throughout the day leading up to the class. You’ll regret that huge bowl of pasta slathered in alfredo sauce when you’re trying to “compress the abdominal wall, contract the abdominal muscles”
You’ll need a yoga mat, towel and water bottle. If you don’t bring your own, the studiowill have a yoga mat and towel for rent. Some people like to have two towels- one for their mat and one for themselves. Also, your clothing will be soaked in sweat by the end of class, so plan accordingly. If it’s cold outside, bring a change of clothing and some extra layers; it will feel even colder outside after a hot yoga class. Most studios have showers so you can plan to shower before leaving the studio.
What to wear
Avoid wearing long pants and loose-fitting clothing; you will sweat and they will get heavy. Choose an outfit that will allow you to move freely and will still feel comfortable if it becomes wet with sweat. Tight shorts and tank top or sports bra top for woman will suffice, and comfortable shorts for men. And skip the perfume or cologne! Hot yoga practice begins with deep breathing exercises, and nobody wants a lung full of harsh chemical-laden scent.
You’ll have some brief paperwork to fill out and this would also be a great time to ask the instructor any questions you may have. Don’t arrive late; studios often lock their doors at class time, so you’ll miss your class. And even if they don’t lock their doors, it’s disruptive to have a student walk in late. Also, in order to receive the full benefits of the class, you must be present for the entire class.
during a hot yoga class
No expectations. If you’re familiar with other types of yoga, do not expect this class to be similar. There are no sun salutations and the instructor does not do the poses with you. Instead, the instructor gives very detailed directions and instructions to guide you through the postures. For the best experience, expect nothing and be open to everything.
Stay in the room!
It gets hot. The postures are challenging. Listen to your body. If you feel like you need a break, sit down on your mat with a straight spine, eyes open and breathe. We suggest you relax in a seated position as opposed to child’s pose or savasana; seated position gives your lungs room to breathe and also allows you to stay connected with the class through observation.
Nobody cares if you “suck”
Yoga is not about how flexible or strong you are. Instead, it is about your attention. A scattered mind in a “difficult” pose is practicing like a beginning student, while a still mind in an “easy” pose is practicing like an advanced student. Practicing with internal, still focus is advanced yoga, regardless of the postures. So move with focused attention and concentrate on your breathing and the internal sensations within your body. And keep in mind that all physical limitations are first created in the mind. If you think you’ll never be able to do a posture, then you’ll never be able to. If you commit to learning a posture, then eventually, you’ll learn it. Whether you tell yourself you can or you can’t, the effort is the same.
Keep your attention on your own practice
Only through internal focus can we receive the full benefits of our yoga practice.
At the end of class, stay in savasana for at least a few minutes
This is where you reap the benefits of all your hard work during practice. Take these moments to relax and just be.
after a hot yoga class
You’ll probably feel amazing
Many people report feeling calm, centered, and rejuvenated. You have just done something so, so good for you! You have strengthened every muscle, you have released the tension in every muscle, you have massaged your internal organs, and you’ve created a tourniquet effect around each organ- flooding each organ with freshly oxygenated blood and helping your body to heal each organ. You’ve also sweat profusely, which aids your body in detoxification, and you’ve stretched your muscles, joints, and ligaments. Wow!
When’s the last time you did all that in ninety minutes?!
But you may not feel so great
Some beginners feel nauseous, dizzy, light-headed, or extremely exhausted after their first class. This is normal! These sensations are minimized with each class that you attend, so stick to it! The intense work out in the intense heat is very detoxifying and cleansing, and these processes can cause these sensations. Try not to conclude that a hot yoga practice is not for you if you don’t feel great after your first class. With regular practice, your body will balance out and you will begin to feel wonderful after class, so come back for you second class ASAP!.
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Daniela attended her first yoga class at evolation's Tampa studio. She quickly fell in love with the practice and embarked on evolation's teacher training path two months after her first class. She is now teaching hot and flow classes at evolation’s Buffalo studios.