Hot yoga is the art of practicing yoga in a heated room. The added heat allows your body to stretch deeper and muscles to lengthen longer.
I am both a physical therapist as well as a yoga instructor, and I like to incorporate a variety of yoga classes into my practice, including hot yoga. Hot yoga helps my flexibility while loosening tight muscle groups like hamstrings, hips and shoulders.
Hot yoga is not for everyone and injuries can occur, so you should know what it involves before you try it. I recommend during your first class move slow and easy to avoid overstretching and pulling muscles. The added heat increases the risk of dehydration, and hydration is important (before, during and after class).
If properly prepared, a hot yoga class can be beneficial to mix into your routine. Here are more tips for a successful first hot yoga practice.
Choose wisely - There are numerous types of hot yoga offerings, including intro, slow stretching, and power classes. Temperatures also vary with different classes and studios, with some intro hot classes being less hot. Get input on which hot yoga class to try as a first-timer. An introduction class, with a lower temperature, can help you ease into the practice.
Introduce yourself – When attending your first class let the instructor know you are new. Instructors can recommend locations in the studio that may be cooler and more comfortable for your first class. It is also important to inform the instructor of any injuries so they can adjust poses as necessary.
Hydrate – Hydrate (drink water) well in advance of class, focusing on the two hours before class. Bring a water bottle to class and sip slowly as needed. Hydration is equally important after class. Drink extra water to replace fluids lost during the workout.
Gear – Be prepared to sweat. Wear sweat-wicking clothing to pull sweat from your body and stay more comfortable. Bring an extra towel or buy a non-slip yoga towel to absorb sweat and minimize slipping on your mat.
Breathe and relax – The class will get hot, mentally prepare for the heat. Get to class early, find a resting pose and slowly settle into the heat before class begins. Focus on keeping breath smooth and slow. If your breath becomes labored or uneasy, if you become lightheaded or nauseous, move into a resting pose or exit the heat.
Yoga is as a great workout to improve flexibility, balance, and strength. Try a variety of yoga classes to find the style that works best for you.
Jenni Freie, PT, DPT, OCS is a physical therapist with OrthoCarolina Pineville.