Friday, March 28, 2014

Hot Yoga Tips

The last couple of years I have started taking Hot Yoga classes.  Not "Bikram" or Bikram-like classes, but vinyasa flow done in a 95-105* (35*-40*C) room, plus humidity.  My first class left me panting in childs pose on my mat - I was so unprepared mentally and physically and that was compounded by being right by the heater.   Subsequent classes have gone better and this Northern Minnesota gal has come round to the view point that a warm room is definitely a better for a yoga practice.  It doesn't have to be 105* (40*C) per se; but something above 75* (23*C) is really nice.

I've also learned some tips to make class more enjoyable for myself.  Learned the hard way, actually, which is why I've decided to share them.  It seems hot studios just assume you know what you are doing - or at least that has been my experience.  Well, guess what...I didn't know what I was doing!     
Class basics/props:
  • Water. Water. Water.  Drink it!  Drink it! Drink it!
  • Wear clothes that will move the sweat away from your body.  I don't care for full length leggings, it's hot enough already without having my legs completely wrapped!  I prefer BePresent pants because they soak up the sweat, keep me cool, and dry incredibly fast or capris.  Loose tanks or t-shirts will fall down over your face and get stretchy from sweat - use something a bit more form-fitting.  
  • Have a small towel handy to wipe the sweat off your face and arms, or to use in balance poses.  Also works great across the front of the mat for sweaty hands, folded to provide a spot for your head or elbows in childs pose or inversions, and under the heels for forward folds on hardwood floors.  Any non-poofy bathroom towel or kitchen towel works great. 
  • Some kind of yoga mat towel is nice - YogiToes, Manduka, Gaiam all offer either a full mat size towel.  A yoga towel can help prevent hands and feet from slipping once sweaty, helps keep your mat clean because you can toss the towel into the wash (remember to take it out of your mat bag!), and prevents skin from sticking to (or slipping on) the mat in seated postures or inversions.  
  • Water. Water. Water.  Drink it!  Drink it! Drink it!
Technique suggestions:

  • Drop the ujjayi breath.   I come from a lineage (Ashtanga) where you always use the ujjayi breath.  If you recall, ujjayi is a warming breath.  Guess what?  You definitely don't need a warming breath in a 105* (40*C) class!  
  • Exhale through the mouth.  This is a natural way for the body to vent heat - exhale with gusto!  Lion's breath is completely appropriate here.  If embarrassed by Lion's breath, deep sighs when in downdog can go a long way.
  • Make sure your foundation in any pose is solid before moving into the asana. Because you are sweating (a lot), if your foundation isn't grounded, you aren't going to be doing anything but sliding or tipping to the floor.  Keep you and your neighbor injury free. 
  • Practice Asteya (truthfulness) and Satya (honesty) with yourself - if you don't feel good, rest.  Omit a vinyasa, take modification, take water.   
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photo pulled from the web