Hot Yoga | A First Experience and Beginner Tips

I know I am so late to the band with this one, but last week I finally tried hot yoga for the first time! The 37 degree class hasn’t quite reached York yet, and I’m not quite sure if practicing my downward dog when in Turkey counted. A while ago, I came across yoga teacher Adam Husler and really liked his ethos and style. By pure coincidence, he also happens to be Tash of Dance Flow Lift‘s yoga teacher and so Tash and I arranged to meet when I arrived in London and go to one of his classes at Yoga Haven, a popular group of hot yoga studios.

Photo: Eva Katalin Kondoros

First up, it was really nice to meet and chat with Tash, who is one of the loveliest people. It’s funny, how with social media and blogging you can “know” someone for two years and not have actually met in the flesh. We arrived in good time, which gave me a chance to say hello to Adam and get myself settled in the hot studio. I was a little nervous, being just in a yoga bra and leggings next to lots of well-practiced and toned hot yoga students. My abs are still a work in progress, but I was at least relieved that my clothing behaved!

I did find the class hard, although it was a tough one. Adam really is a great teacher and I moved and worked my body in ways I hadn’t practiced in yoga before. Being a newbie (and someone who’s had more than her fair share of heatstroke over the years) I took plenty of water breaks. The practice was made up from flowing sections and vinyasas, with a little strength and balance work thrown in. Laying down in Shavasana at the end was so satisfying as I really felt like I had challenged myself. Having a scented muslim cloth gentle applied to my forehead during the final resting pose really sealed in the practice and honestly, I’d return just for that even if I hadn’t loved the class as I did.

Hot yoga RachelGarrisonMaui Hot Yoga

Water before, during, and after, food after!
As practicing yoga in a hot space will cause water loss, it is very important to be fully hydrated (without needing to have bathroom breaks!) before you begin. Sipping water throughout the class is essential to keeping you cool, but won’t hydrate you much, so make sure you’ve had plenty of water before and after the class. Avoid food though, because a full stomach can make you feel queasy as the digestive system shuts down during exercise. Have a little fruit or a smoothie if you really need beforehand, but otherwise save fuelling up until later.

Bring two towels (at least)
Unless you have an ultra-grippy mat, like the Liforme or Suga mat, you’ll definitely need a grippy towel on top. You can buy some very pretty ones that are just for yoga (I like these and these) and take up limited kit bag space. Alongside this, you’ll want a towel to wipe off sweat throughout the class, and for the shower later. One on it’s own probably won’t cut it!

Pace yourself
When you’re used to flowing through 90 minutes of Vinyasa without any trouble, it can be a little disconcerting to find yourself feeling impossibly tired just by stretching out into Warrior II. Accept that practicing hot yoga is more strenuous and don’t be afraid to sit back in child’s pose or on your back when you need it.

Embrace the increased flexibility… carefully
The temperature rise allows your muscles to stretch more, meaning that your flexibility increases more quickly as you attend sessions. Don’t force yourself too much though, as you can risk over exerting your muscles. Just let your body move and you’ll likely be pleasantly surprised without risking injury.