Hot Yoga For Beginners: Where do I start?
You are starting at the best first place: you have a desire to practice. When I first began my journey I did need a few questions answered: What research does one do before practicing hot yoga? What kind of physical prep should I do? Where do I go for the best practice? Do I bring anything to class or do I just bring me? Lucky you! I now have answers to these burning questions 🙂 Let’s dive in together!
What research should I do before I practice?
The first thing we should look at is our own health. The practice of yoga is largely about listening to your body and being respectful of its boundaries. If you have health concerns, do a quick check in with your physician and make sure that hot yoga is right for you. The next thing you should do is to either consult Google or a nutritionist (whichever you prefer. Personally, I went with Google) and make sure that you’ve done the appropriate grocery shopping and meal prep before you go. My biggest monster after a hot yoga class is hunger and knowing where my recovery meal is helps me stay present in my practice.
Knowing what a few basic poses look like will also be helpful:
What kind of physical shape should a hot yoga beginner be in?
One more time for the article skimmers out there: talk with your doctor if you have health concerns. That said, you can be in any shape you like! Don’t get hung up on your size or your flexibility. The hot yoga environment is designed to loosen your muscles within minutes of entering the room; so you’ve already increased flexibility by just walking in!
Where do I practice? – Finding the right studio
When I first did my search for studios to practice, I always went for distance. Which is a valid way to start the search, and, if you find proper instruction at the first place, roll with it. However, what I really was looking for was a good guide to my practice. This begins with the emphasis that is put on the breath and how you use it throughout practice. The reason this is so important is that when you lose your breath during practice, you often lose your ability to practice for extended periods of time.
What do I need to bring to class?
Some studios have mats you can borrow and wipe down after class. If you’re comfortable with this, go for it! Otherwise, a yoga mat is a necessary buy. It’s also great to have your own mat because in the future you may choose to practice at home as well as in the studio, and the mat makes this so much easier. The more you can condition your brain and your body to be in a state of readiness and peace when you come to your mat, the better and more fulfilling your practice will be.
As the name implies, you will sweat a lot during hot yoga. A large towel from home will do for your first few times in class. Later, you will want a yoga-mat towel. The benefit of this towel is that it was designed to catch sweat while doing yoga; so, there are grooves on the underside of the towel that prevent it from slipping on your mat and the material on the topside of the towel is designed for you not to slip from your mat.
The journey to being an accomplished yogi should be fun and safe. Talk with your doctor and make sure that you have prepped your recovery meal before going to class. If you’ll feel more comfortable, be familiar with the basic poses; but, remember there are no flexibility or size requirements. When you’re searching for studios, make sure that they are emphasizing breath in every movement. Remember also that the practice of hot yoga is about being respectful of your body and your needs. If that includes your own mat and towel, do what’s right for you. Have fun taking your first steps as a hot yoga beginner!