Did I ever tell you about the time I became totally obsessed with Moksha Yoga? I had always wanted to practice yoga, I even tried it a few times but not enough to actually say “I do yoga”. I was more into other styles of working out at the time (P90x, Insanity, 30 Day Shred, etc, etc) but my obsession with those were fleeting and they faded when the 30-90 days were up. I can now proudly say “I do yoga” and it feels way less cheesy and granola-y then I thought I would (a big thank you to my friend Ashleigh for introducing me to it, she owns this awesome studio). When you fall head over sweaty heels in love with something it’s really hard not to talk about it a lot (but I will try to keep it to a minimum on the blog) – for the past two months I have been hooked on sweaty hot yoga, 4-6 times a week wishing is was 7, sorta hooked. The benefits I have noticed in my mind and body have been pretty astounding, no other physical activity has offered so many fantastic positive changes. I really wanted to share some of my thoughts, why I am head over heels in love with it and some tips from a nervous and scared beginners point of view (I was SO nervous and intimated to start) – so if this is something that you want to read more about…read on if not, don’t worry regular content will be back on the blog tomorrow!
There are several different types of Hot classes, when I say ‘Hot Yoga’ I’m lumping together a few types of yoga that are done in a hot room. I mainly attend Moksha Yoga classes (HIGHLY recommend this form, and there are studios all over the world), a few Hot Pilates (not yoga, but holy cow what an amazing core work out!) classes and some Hot Vinyasa classes (some studios call this core flow or just flow). When I did a search to try to create a list of the different types of hot yoga to help explain and make it easy to choose one to try, it was hard (also I am far from being an expert) – there were a shocking amount of different types and styles, so finding one that suits you best might be a bit of trial and error. But personally I would recommend Moksha, (I’m no expert, but these are my observations) it is derived from the classic Bikram – but much less structured and more fitness focused (flows and ab work outs included), also it’s very eco and environment focused, which I like.
Some tips on getting started with Hot Yoga.
(Tips from a fellow nervous beginners point of view)
- Don’t stress, if you’ve never been to a yoga class or it’s been years, it’s okay! You will most likely not be the only beginner in the class, even if no one else is admitting it. Before I started going I did a tiny bit of googling, just so I could re-familiarize myself with some of the poses, not that I needed too it just made me feel a bit more confident.
- Drink lot’s of water all day leading up to your class, it’s not like a pelvic ultrasound where you have to chug tons just before you go – you don’t want to be jumping around trying to hold your pee in. You just need to be hydrated, which means drink those 8 glasses a day, easy stuff.;)
- Don’t eat at least an hour before, sorta like swimming. It’s hot in the room and doing anything physical on a full stomach, especially in the heat is no bueno.
- Bring: a mat, a towel to lay on your mat (you can buy special sweat absorbing towels – I have yet to own one), a smaller hand towel to help wipe away facial sweat (I can’t stand when it’s getting in my eyes), a bottle of water, and if you want a clean, dry towel to use for after class if you want to shower. You can usually rent a mat and a towel from any studio, so if you don’t own a mat you can do that.
- Arrive 15 mins early, then you have time to relax a bit before going in – sometimes the lead up to doing something new is the most stressful part. For me, once I’m there I feel better, calmer – and you can use the extra time to set yourself up in class so you feel more relaxed when class starts.
- Wear something you feel comfortable moving around and sweating in. I find clothing that is a bit more fitted, that pulls the sweat away from your body works best. Lot’s of shops sell “Yoga Clothing” but not all of them have the sweat pulling away proprieties (that’s the technical term, right?) – Lululemon (though a bit pricey) has by far the best hot yoga clothes, in my opinion.
- Once you enter the room, I always suggest to newbies to pick a back corner, something about not having people behind or on one side of you that feels comforting at first. Also the back of the room is usually the direction that everyone’s feet are facing when laying in Savasana (I was mighty confused by this at first). Set up quietly and then lay down in your Savasana. Start to breathe slowly and try to relax, the initial heat shock fades and you do get used to it (getting used to the heat does not mean you don’t sweat like crazy still). Also while we are talking about laying down, if at anytime during class you feel a bit too hot or dizzy go back to the mat and lay down or go to child’s pose. Even expert yogi’s have moments when they need to do this, so don’t push it too hard listen to your body.
- Breathe! I find the room much cooler, I sweat less and my balance and ability to hold postures is MUCH better when I concentrate on my breath over everything else.
(The major benefits I have noticed)
- Number one for me is its alone time, this is HUGE. I’m a WAHM, I rarely get a moment alone – my yoga practice is my alone time, fitness and relaxation all balled into one. I don’t think there is anything else I have ever done that has offered so much in a 60-90 min time frame. Finding time can be tough (but SO worth it), I usually wake up early and go to a 6:30 AM class – then I’m home during breakfast and before my husband has to go to work.
- I’m naturally a very anxious, stressed out person – something I’m pretty good at hiding. Yoga helps to calm and center myself, so I fake it less. Attending class in the morning is my favorite, I am able to take the relaxation away from class and use it all day.
- Strength and toning, though it is a slower process then weight lifting or other forms of exercise because it focuses on deep muscle tissue and you are using your own body weight. It’s those deep (yoga goes after the deep muscles): core, back, arms, legs that give you overall full body strength. Also, I have noticed the added benefits of more flexibility (I’m not naturally flexible, and you don’t need to be), stretched and balanced – all things that have improved my daily life tremendously.
- Inches lost, technically you could call this weight loss it’s a side effect to getting stronger and more toned – personally I have just noticed my clothes FIT differently, better and some not at all (inches lost, means some clothing is falling off). This is one of those things that would be different for each person I think.
- I am not a scientist (nor do I play one on tv), so I can’t say for sure that these benefits are results everyone will experience but for me: my skin is much healthier (I had a major teenage acne break out when I first started, but huge improvements otherwise), my allergies are much more bearable (a morning class helps to sweat off the symptoms that came overnight), that horrible monthly visitor is still very horrible but not as nightmarish, sleep has been much smoother and less of a fight (before even though I’d be exhausted, I just couldn’t sleep).
- Generally, it’s hard to explain without sounding like a total cheese ball – I just feel better. Like a better me: I’m stronger, I breathe deeper and more clearly, I’m more understanding towards myself and others (because I’m calm), my anxiety levels are much lower and anxiety itself is much easier to control, I have more energy, and am way stronger to go on longer walks, runs and vigorous playtime with my kids.
- I find I treat my body and mind much better after attending yoga regularly: drinking more water, eating better, being kinder and more understanding towards myself (which in turn means I’m kinder and more understanding to everyone else), I feel good so naturally I make good choices (this one is hard to explain).
Trying to find affordable ways to practice Hot Yoga.
(This for me was the biggest downfall of falling in love with yoga. It’s flipping expensive!)
- Most studios have an introductory month special, the studio I practice at: Moksha Yoga Uptown (in fact I think all Moksha yoga studios offer this) has a $60 unlimited into package for new people. Considering a single class costs about $20 this is a pretty great way to get started.
- Memberships, Moksha studios offer an auto renewal membership (payments automatically come off your credit card each month) this is usually significantly lower than buying on a class by class or even month by month basis. Similar to a gym membership.
- Energy Trade, every studio is different – but the idea is, you work for a few hours (doing general cleaning, etc) and get a certain amount of yoga classes for free (at Moksha Studios, it’s a 3 hour weekly shift for unlimited free yoga). A pretty awesome trade.
- Passport to Prana, if you live in a major city this is a really great program. You purchase a 1 year passport, which entitles you to one class at each participating yoga studio (in your city) for the year. You will find all types of yoga studios, and get to test them out without putting a hole in your wallet.
- Hot yoga clothes, this is one I haven’t really found a way around – yet. You need something that you will feel comfortable sweating and working out in, something that pulls the sweat away from your body is preferable. Lululemon, in my experience has the best clothes for hot yoga, but they are by far the best in price. Here is the Perfect Hot Yoga Attire, for when you decide you fall in love with the sweaty practice.
If you’ve ever been interested, or curious I obviously highly recommend trying hot yoga, or any type of yoga (if doing any sort of activity in a heated room does not sound like your cup of tea, try a non heated class!). I also suggest giving yoga more than one try, sometimes the first time you feel super discouraged – but it gets easier and better with every class, promise! If there is anything I didn’t cover, that you would like to know about leave a comment.