Hot yoga is an intense practice that many people benefit from, no matter if they are athletes or someone going through physical rehabilitation. Also known as Bikram yoga, hot yoga is popular for its detoxification and weight loss benefits as well as stress relief and relief from chronic aches and pains.
Hot yoga has been around for centuries. Bikram Choudhury is the founder of Bikram yoga, which is a modified 90 minute version of the ancient practice. Basically, hot yoga consists of 26 postures that are practiced in the same exact sequence every time, and it’s all done in a heated room. Just how hot? About 102-104 degrees with added humidity (usually 30-40%). It may sound excruciating, but the heat is necessary to soften the muscles so that they can be flexible enough for the poses.
Hot yoga is also referred to as a moving meditation. This means that basically you are in your own little world, and you do the best that you can in each pose with a clear mind. During your practice, let go of any judgment you may have about yourself and others. Remember, everyone else is struggling with the poses and heat just like you are, and they focusing on themselves and not you. So let go.
Research the postures ahead of time
It’s a good idea to look online for the 26 postures so that you know what to expect ahead of time. You don’t have to memorize them or perfect them; just be somewhat familiar with them so that you have some idea of how the poses look.
How to deal with the heat
Hot yoga is difficult, and mostly because of the heat. The best thing you can do is to drink plenty of water at least 2 hours before your practice. If you’re practicing in the morning, you may want to skip your coffee until afterwards as it may make you jittery and shaky during hot yoga. Hydrate as much as you can before and after, and take little sips of water after. Remember, if you get dizzy, rest in child’s pose for as long as you need. There is nothing wrong with going into a resting posture whenever the heat gets to be too much.
Focus on your breath
When you feel impatient, dizzy, or tired, just focus on your breath. Your breath is the most important thing that carries you throughout your hot yoga practice. Ujjayi breath is a breathing technique for yoga that helps to calm and energize you at the same time. Your Ujjayi breath involves deep inhales through the nose and exhales the nose while constricting your throat. It’s referred to as the ocean breath because the sound resembles an ocean.
To sum up, hot yoga is a difficult yet rewarding practice that involves being prepared ahead of time. Don’t forget to hydrate as much as you can before and after, and eat a small meal at least two hours prior to your practice.