Discover what you need to know before you go: Bikram Yoga
Considering going to a Bikram yoga class? Here's what you must know before you set off for hot yoga.
Hot yoga - officially known as Bikram yoga - is yoga conducted in a heated studio, with temperatures often reaching 105*F/40*C. The heat is thought to encourage deeper stretches, the release of toxins, and an elevated heart rate making Bikram yoga a particularly challenging form which packs a cardio punch. It's not for the faint-hearted, so make sure it's for you before you set off.
What kind of hot yoga class have you signed up for?
If you see "hot yoga" advertised, check with the studio: do they mean Bikram, or hot Vinyasa yoga? Vinyasa classes tend to be shorter, with the studio heated to around 90*F/32*C, and involve classic flowing yoga poses. Hot Vinyasa yoga is great for beginners or anyone who hasn't been to any hot yoga class. Bikram classes tend to be longer, hotter and much tougher.
What do you need to take to hot yoga?
Don't leave home empty-handed if you're heading to a hot yoga studio! Here's what you'll need to take:
If you have a yoga mat, take it (it's preferable to use your own mat for something as sweaty as hot yoga!)
Pack a towel or two - one for your mat (it will get slippy) and one for yourself. You can buy special yoga towels which grip to yoga mats for extra safety during poses.
You're going to sweat, a lot. And it's crucial to stay hydrated, and rehydrate after class. Your heart rate will be elevated, and you will experience a strong detoxifying effect. So you'll need more fluid than you would at a regular yoga class. Pack at least one bottle of plain water, but consider taking several: plain water, a bottle of water with added electrolyte drops/tablets, and a post-workout drink such as coconut water.
What should you wear for hot yoga classes?
It doesn't matter what you look like (although plenty of people in hot yoga classes will be sporting the latest yoga brands!) It's important to be comfortable and to be able to move into the poses without your clothing moving around too much. Choose clothing that is form-fitting, but not so tight that it's restrictive. Cotton is not a good choice, as it gets heavy and clammy with sweat. Shorts or leggings, with a vest top, sports bra, crop top or t-shirt are ideal. Just make sure that whatever you wear won't flap open and reveal more than you're happy with!
Understand the etiquette of the yoga studio
If you're new to yoga, you need to know the unwritten rules of the yoga studio. It's quite different to the gym floor or to workout classes. Arrive early so you can select your spot, settle your mind and be present. Once you're in the room, remain silent, or talk very quietly. Some people may be meditating before class to bring themselves away from the outside world and into their yoga headspace. Make sure you can see the yoga teacher, and tell him or her if you have any injuries or other concerns. Try to make sure you don't smell strongly (even in a good way - of perfume or after shave), as hot yoga will heighten smells. And, finally, don't leave the class unless you really have to. It's distracting and can break the flow of the yoga session.
Give it a go!