If you’ve been thinking about trying hot yoga or the more traditional Bikram yoga, but are feeling a little intimidated, you’re not alone. It’s natural to feel apprehensive before your first hot yoga class. You may feel that everyone else looks incredibly bendy, but just give it a go – you may end up surprised by how bendy you actually are!
It seems that hot yoga is definitely one of those love it or hate it things, and if you love it, you simply can’t get enough of it. Individuals report feeling stronger, slimmer, cleaner, lighter and pumped with energy.
What is hot yoga?
Traditionally performed in a room heated to around 40 C, with a humidity of 40%, hot yoga is a vigorous sequence of exercises performed for 90 minutes. That’s the Bikram method, as developed by Indian yogi Bikram Choudhury, whose proponents teach 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises per class at a strict temperature level. But as with many things, hot yoga has adapted and been taken in different directions by different teachers. Now, any yoga performed in a heated room may be called “hot yoga”.
Whatever kind of yoga you do in the hot room, prepare to sweat! It’s a key part of hot yoga, and the reason why a lot of its fans love it so much. Proponents argue that one of the benefits of hot yoga is flushing out toxins and feeling great afterwards. Other benefits touted include increased flexibility. Yoga Haven in Brighton described the benefits as follows:
“Using heat ensures that participants will sweat, which helps to flush toxins from their system whilst internal organs and glands are gently massaged. This hot yoga class is designed to increase the heart rate, which prepares the cardiovascular system for more intense activity, it increases blood flow through active muscles, increases metabolic rate, increases speed of nerve impulses which facilitates more subtle awareness of body movements whilst cleansing and rejuvenating the entire system.”
There are also several contraindications to practising hot yoga, including pregnancy and heart conditions. It’s best to check with your doctor before trying it, and to let your teacher know before class about any health conditions.
So I’m going to sweat…what should I wear?
As little as possible! No, really, the more you get in to hot yoga, the more you’ll want to shrink your yoga wardrobe to the lightest and smallest clothing. What you’ll definitely NOT want is layers. Even if you feel self-conscious about your body in front of the mirrors, the heat soon helps you see sense! When you sweat, you’ll want to know that the fabric against your skin is effective at cooling you down, but is also 100% natural. You definitely won’t want chemicals leaching against your precious skin when you’re super hot.
Close-fitting and comfortable
Clothes that flap around your body are out. Close-fitting clothes are the way to go. Short shorts and cropped tops are the best, but if you’re not quite ready to bare your midriff, a tight fitting vest is also good. Tight seams are likely to aggravate and you’ll want the feel of your clothing to be soft and comfy against the skin as you’ll be moving vigorously.
Gossypium yoga shorts are available in a variety of colours and are great for lots of poses – with their reinforced gusset, you can rest assured that you can stretch to the absolute max without the risk of losing your dignity! They also have a great smoothing waist band/tummy panel that looks great and doesn’t cut in at the waist.
The choose a super soft and comfy organic cotton vest top with no tight seams, and nothing that rubs against the skin. Men will want to opt for cool, comfy and natural clothing too.
What about after class?
There’s no doubt you’ll be feeling great after you’ve finished the class especially if you push through and surprise yourself with your inner strength. A shower will wash off any lingering toxins and then you’ll want to make sure you keep your body at an even temperature. Have a hoodie or a sweatshirt ready for post-class hanging out, and some loose, comfy trousers. You’ll be bouncing home with a great post-yoga glow!
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