What to Expect on Your First Hot Yoga Class

Source: http://whitepinehealingarts.org/
I’m into hot yoga lately and since hot yoga is pretty much a hype now in Singapore, I thought I was probably one of the last few yogis who is still a new kid on the block when it comes to doing hot yoga. But apparently, not many understood the practice of hot yoga, even regular yoga practitioners because hot yoga is a different thing altogether, just like how pancake is somewhat different from waffles though both were made from pretty much the same set of ingredients.
Hopefully, I would be able to shed some light about hot yoga especially for beginners in hot yoga or people who would like to try hot yoga. Based on the information I gathered online and observations I made during the hot yoga classes, I hope I could lay down your fears and anxieties about attending your very first hot yoga class.

1. Is there a difference between hot yoga and bikram yoga?

YES! Though some online articles use both terms interchangeably, Bikram yoga is the so-called copyright yoga system which is synthesized by Bikram Choudhury who adopted the series of yoga poses from traditional hatha yoga poses. At some hot yoga studios, they called it Hot 26 or Hot classic which differs from hot yoga. Hot yoga classes are more like ‘freestyle’ yoga classes performed in a hot room. Depending on the yoga instructor, she might conduct her class in a Hatha-style or Vinyasa flow-style of hot yoga.
Classes can range from 60 minutes to 90 minutes. Also, do watch the video below which is a great introduction video to Bikram yoga. 
I did my first bikram yoga’s class many years ago but I didn’t really know what I was doing then. I only understood this form of yoga after attending the hot classic classes at Meraki Yoga. But I prefer hot yoga classes as compared to Bikram’s hot yoga. Besides, the founder of Bikram yoga is a notorious guy in media and there were some controversies about his teachings and character. After watching this video about the alleged assaults on him, I have lesser respect for him now.

2. How hot is the room? What if I can’t tolerate the heat in the room?

The room is usually heated to around 40 degree celsius. Some instructors will switch off the heater in the midst of the yoga class when the room becomes too hot and stuffy. Otherwise, you could have perpetually feel dizzy and uncomfortable. Should you feel nauseous or uneasy, you would be told by the instructor to not leave the room immediately but to stay in child’s pose or any resting pose to calm the body. That’s because you wouldn’t want your body to be expose to the extreme difference in temperature once you head out to an air-conditioned environment. If you find your heart is beating real fast, try to take a longer and deeper breath to normalize the body.
Just before the class is about to end, the instructors would usually turn on the fans and turn off the radiator to ventilate the room as you enter into Shavasna pose.
Listen to your body. If you still don’t feel right after resting, alert the instructors right away.

3. Can I drink water during a hot yoga class?

Yes, you can! Do hydrate yourselves but taking small sips of water but just not too much because you will be moving around and you wouldn’t want to feel bloated. Some instructors gives small breaks in between classes to take hydrate themselves with water.

4. Can I eat right before a hot yoga class?

Try to keep an empty stomach about 2 hours before a yoga class because you wouldn’t want all the energy from your body be diverted to your digestive system. You are going to feel lethargic and tired after eating. Should you feel hungry, just grab a small bite like a banana or some other fresh fruits.

5. What should I wear for a hot yoga class?

Trust me. It’s best to wear tank tops or sleeveless because wearing a soaking wet clammy shirt does makes you want to peel it off because it’s way too sticky and hot. Wear something light and comfortable. It would be nice if you can purchase those pretty yoga wear tops and colorful tights so that you will feel good whenever you look yourself in the mirror while practicing yoga. If it’s way of your budget, I suggest you could shop for Cotton On dri-fit tank tops, H&M stretchable cotton tops or Uniqlo’s AIRism camisole which are ultra comfy too.

6.  I’m new to yoga. Can I do hot yoga?

The hot yoga classes are suitable for all levels even for beginners though they might be some difficult poses, you should not feel pressured or put force onto your body. It will take some time for you to eventually reach a certain stage of practice so, just be real patient with yourself. Like what my yoga instructor would say, ‘Yoga is a journey and not a final destination.’ We are not born to be a body contortionist in the first place!
However, if you don’t feel comfortable during the first hot yoga classes, perhaps you could attend the yoga classes catered to beginners. At Meraki Yoga, for instance, they have yoga classes for beginners which includes hot yoga classes too. It’s a great yoga studio to check out especially if you are new on this yoga journey. 
You could also attend their 7.30pm Thursday Free outdoor yoga class at The Star Vista where you will also receive a complimentary one-day trial pass to their studio to try out their various yoga classes! 

Photo credit: Meraki Yoga
( Can you spot me?)

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