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Hot yoga is an excellent form of exercise to add to your list of New Years resolution goals. It's not just for experienced yogis. As a runner, hot yoga has been one of the very few recovery techniques that gets out the kinks in my muscles while still getting a really great workout in. But when I tried out my first hot yoga class, I didn’t have the proper gear and felt like I was going to collapse by the end of it. To help ensure a successful first hot yoga experience, try out some of these tips:
- Start with a beginner’s class: Hot yoga can vary from power flows, sculpt flows, restorative, Bikram and many other forms. Many will rate classes beginner, intermediate and advanced. Be sure to keep your eye out for the descriptions that mention beginners and go with those classes.
- Know your limits: If you’re struggling during a heated class and need a break at any time, there’s always child pose! You may find that taking child’s pose for a few breaths will help you come back even stronger. And don’t be afraid take steps like using a yoga block for the extra assistance if that means you’ll be able to do a pose with proper form. Yoga is NOT a competition!
- Acclimate yourself prior to class: Arrive early to class to acclimate yourself to the heat. This will help your body feel ready for the temperature by the time class begins.
- Do your homework: There are numerous studios in the Washington, D.C. area with so many different instructors. Read reviews about studios and instructors, ask others for recommendations and make an informed decision about where you’ll spend your time and money prior to attending a class. You can start by reading our own class reviews for suggestions!
- Hydrate: Hydration is key to a successful hot yoga class! Be sure to hydrate properly before and after class. Several instructors encourage yogis to avoid hydration during class, but it’s important to do what’s best for your own body.
- Bring towels: I recommend purchasing a yoga towel that fits on top of a standard yoga mat. These towels usually dry in half the time of a cotton towel and wicks away the moisture. But any towel will work, just be sure to find one the length of your entire mat. I also recommend bringing a smaller towel to wipe away the sweat on your face.
- Enjoy the complimentary food (if it’s offered): Several studios offer complimentary food such as apples or pineapple after class to help their yogis refuel. This may also be a great opportunity to bond with other yogis while you all munch away on fresh and delicious food. An important part of any yoga class is enjoying the community around you during the practice.
- Place your mat strategically: Think twice before placing your mat down anywhere in the room. Consider your preferences, first: do you like to watch yourself in the mirror? Are you going to be able to concentrate on your practice if you’re directly behind someone? Keep in mind that there are usually cooler spots throughout the room—don’t be hesitant to ask the instructor or front desk if they have recommendations for mat placement in the room for beginners.
- Wear little clothing: Needles to say, hot yoga is really hot. Find clothing your body can breath in during the class! I recommend spandex shorts and a tank top. Most importantly, stay away from cotton!
Plan your meals accordingly: Eating a large meal right before class is a very poor decision! Several instructors recommend having a meal at least two hours before class but others recommend longer. But keep in mind that having a light snack before class may actually be beneficial. Every body is different so find what works for your body and stick to it.
Want to give hot yoga a shot? Check out these deals from local fitness providers ...
$45 for 10 Bikram yoga classes ($150 value) at Pure Om Yoga in Bethesda
$49 for one month of unlimited Bikram yoga classes (up to $185 Value) at Bikram Yoga DuPont
$25 for five Bikram yoga classes ($100 value) at Bikram Yoga Takoma Park
$54 for one month of unlimited Bikram yoga classes for new clients ($150 value) at Bikram Yoga Tenleytown
$80 for 20 Bikram-yoga classes ($300 value) at Pure Om Yoga in Fairfax