Not to brag or anything, but I have successfully inspired two people to get into hot yoga recently and I am just so dang proud. Not of myself, but I’m proud of the friends who are wanting to try it out. Hot yoga is definitely my favorite work out. Every time I go, it’s like a therapy session and I always leave feeling so calm, stress-free and relaxed. And I also love how it is a tremendous workout disguised as stretching and flowy movements. I swear, some of the hardest workouts I’ve ever experienced were during a hot yoga class and I felt so incredibly sore afterwards! So here is everything you need to know about hot yoga if you want to give it a try and you’ll look like a pro!
First of all, I am not a yoga instructor or a trained fitness professional. All of these “tips” are from my own personal experience. I have been going to hot yoga for about six or seven years now and I am just turning my accumulated hot yoga knowledge into an “everything you need to know about hot yoga” guide to help others who have never been!
Hot yoga gives me the best workout because I actually feel it working out every muscle. Your core is engaged the whole time so you’re gettings abs and a flat tummy. You’re also moving through planks and lunges and balancing on your arms or on one leg so it really is a full body workout and everything is getting toned. Using your muscles to balance is a lot different than lifting weights because you have to be still and try to hold a position so all of your muscles are being toned. Plus all of the heat makes you sweat like crazy so you’re also losing a bunch of water weight and burning calories like you’re sitting in a sauna. I really think it is the best workout.
On a more serious note, hot yoga at a yoga studio is no joke, y’all. If you’ve only taken a free yoga class at your gym, this will be totally different. First, hot yoga is done at an average of 92 degrees and there is no wind so you are literally drenched in sweat. Second, the yoga instructors are extensively trained and take yoga workshops all over the world (not just volunteers to give it a shot), so it is a legit workout and you will be struggling. And third, hot yoga is a full blown workout, it’s not just stretching and relaxing. Sure, you do do a lot of stretching and some relaxing at the very end, but you are using your muscles to hold your body weight up and using your muscles in a new way to balance yourself in certain positions. I did cheerleading and gymnastics since I was five years old so I had a bit of an advantage before starting yoga because I’m pretty sure my body will forever be trained to stretch and bend in all sorts of directions while also balancing at the same time, but for the majority of the population, these stretches while balancing is new territory for most bodies. But you will see your muscle toning and fat melting off so you will absolutely love it!
So here is everything you need to know about hot yoga to look like a pro yogi:
#1 – Before you go…
Before you go to hot yoga, do some research on the best hot yoga studios near you. Look at the reviews and look at the pictures of the studio on Google or Yelp. Make sure that it is a legit yoga studio and not just a “yoga” class at a gym. The gym yoga classes are just going to be a personal trainer going through the basic yoga moves and it won’t be a good workout. Find a good place that you like and that has a lot of good reviews.
If you’re in the Houston area, Black Swan Yoga is one of my favorite studios and they are donation based. There are two BSY locations in Houston: Kirby and White Oak. And the hot yoga studio that I’m currently going to weekly is called Some Like it Hot Yoga on Barker-Cypress. There are also Black Swan Yoga studios in Austin (where I first went to hot yoga!), Dallas, and San Antonio. And if you’re in Fort Worth, Indigo Yoga and Soul Sweat Hot Yoga are both great studios!
#2 – The equipment you’ll need…
You will need to bring your own yoga mat. I repeat, YOU WILL NEED TO BRING YOUR OWN YOGA MAT. Some places may offer yoga mats to use, but you will likely be charged to use it or you’ll have to buy it there (and theirs are expensive). So make sure you bring your own yoga mat or buy one off of Amazon real fast before you go. You’ll also want it to be thick because you’ll be on your back, your knees, or holding yourself up with your arms a lot so you don’t want a thin mat that’ll hurt your bones.
You also need to bring a giant water bottle when you go. Since it is hot yoga, you will be really really sweaty. And what happens when you’re sweaty? You lose a lot of water and can become dehydrated. So bring a large water bottle full of water! I have a huge 32oz water bottle that I always bring with me and I drink out of it on my way to hot yoga, while I’m at hot yoga, and afterwards on my way home from hot yoga.
You will also want to bring a towel with you. Since I go to hot yoga a few times a week, I went ahead and bought an actually yoga towel that goes over my mat while I practice yoga. I don’t think you’ll need one for your first or second time doing hot yoga, but if you really enjoy it and are planning on doing it quite often, you might want to consider getting a yoga towel also. You’ll be sweating so much that your mat can get really slippery and will turn into a slip and slide. You can also just bring a hand towel or a beach towel.
#3 – What should you wear…
You should definitely wear leggings or tight shorts (like cycling shorts) because your legs will be spread every which way at some point throughout the yoga class and you don’t want anything showing. You also don’t want to wear bootie shorts because they’ll ride up and you’ll be yanking them out of your crack the whole time (I know from experience). And you should definitely wear a well-fitted sports bra. If your bra isn’t fitted enough, you could go upside down and a titty could pop out! I also always wear a form-fitted tank top to hot yoga, just because you go upside down a lot and a loose shirt will go up over your head and it’s awkward. But most of the time I take the shirt off and I’ll just have on the leggings and sports bra because I’m sweating so much! And you won’t wear shoes or socks during hot yoga so just wear flip flops or something easy to take off and on. And don’t try to leave your socks on because you’ll slip and slide out of them and can hurt yourself! Don’t worry, no one is looking at your bare feet.
Also, don’t wear any makeup because it will sweat off and you’ll look like a clown. Hot yoga at a real yoga studio is not about appearances or beauty contests. No one cares what you look like. So save yourself the trouble and embarrassment of racoon eyes and just take your makeup off beforehand!
And you should also skip on the jewelry. You’ll be really sweaty all over so an engagement ring could easily slip off and fly across the room or bracelets can tarnish with all of the sweat. Plus jewelry during yoga is super uncomfortable. So just forgo the jewelry for an hour while you practice some hot yoga!
#4 – How should you fix your hair…
If you have medium to long hair, you will want to wear it in a bun. You’ll be sweating so much that if your hair is in a ponytail, the sweat will turn it into a weapon and you could whip yourself with it. Like legit lacerations from your hair. So I always wear my hair in a bun at the crown of my head. Headstands are in my yoga practice so I have to put the bun a little back on my head or else I couldn’t do the headstands.
#5 – When you get there…
There should be cubbies or a designated place to put your shoes, socks, phone, other items. You shouldn’t bring your phone into the room because the room is usually pretty quiet, besides soft music and the yoga instructor talking. So if your phone is lighting up or buzzing, it will be very very obvious and the other yogis will be irritated.
So after you put all of your belongings into the cubbies, you’ll want to find a place to roll your mat out. Think of the room like a parking lot. You want your yoga mats all to be parallel to each other, otherwise there will be some feet or hands to the face on accident. There’s usually a mirror and you’ll want to face the mirror.
You’ll also grab some of the foam blocks (two) before the class starts and put them right by your mat. Those will help you throughout the class in the difficult positions. And if the instructor asks if anyone is new to the class or new to hot yoga, you should definitely raise your hand and let them know. Don’t be shy. If you let the instructor know that you’re new, they will better explain the positions instead of “now move through your vinyasa”. They will explain and demonstrate exactly how to do everything.
You also want your yoga practice to be intentional. Don’t just go through the movements and half-ass everything. You are not too cool for yoga school. Don’t be afraid to push yourself and to put your body into ugly positions. Yoga is meant to be intentional and meant to better not only your body, but also your spirit and your mind. If you’re half-assing all of the positions and movements because you don’t want to look stupid, then you are not truly practicing yoga and you will end up looking stupid for standing there like you’re too cool. If you stop caring about what other people think and you try the positions outside of your comfort zone, then you are being intentional and you are truly practicing yoga and you are bettering your mind and your outlook on life.
#6 – What to expect…
Depending on the time and day that you are going, the class can be super packed or only have a handful of people. I personally like the classes with only a handful of people because it gets more personal and the instructor will have you experimenting more and trying new poses. The room will be very very hot. Everyone in the class will be really really sweaty. And some of the more “free-spirited” yogis will have some very very long armpit and leg hair, but that’s yoga for you!
The room will also be very mellow and relaxing. There will be some soft music playing. Some instructors will put on fun music like 90’s Britney or the Backstreet Boys and others will have relaxing music playing. The lights will also be a little dimmed or it will be almost completely dark, just depends on how your yoga studio prefers to practice.
Not all studios do this, but my favorite part is at the very end of the class when you are in savasana (or corpse pose) and the instructor will come around with lavender-infused cold towels and will place them on your forehead. It feels so good after the extreme workout in the extreme heat you just did!
#7 – How should you practice…
When the word “practice” is used in yoga that is just the verb for “yoga” or short for “how you practice yoga”. So the instructor will say “if it’s in your practice…” that just means if you can do a certain yoga pose or if you want to try that certain yoga pose. It’s a lot easier to say “if it’s in your practice” instead of “if you have practiced this certain yoga pose before” or “if you know how to do this yoga position”. But your first few times practicing yoga, just go at your own pace and never push yourself too hard. What I love about yoga is that everyone has their own “practice”. Some people will be doing headstands or droppin’ it into the splits, while others are just chilling in child’s pose because they’re tired or need to catch their breath or just because that’s the pose they want to be in right now. So if you’re ever feeling tired or out of breath, just plop down into child’s pose and relax a little. No one will notice or judge.
But also don’t be afraid to try new positions or hold a balance long enough to fall out of it. I mean, don’t fall onto the ground and hurt yourself, obviously, but if you’re in a tree pose or a big toe stretch, don’t be afraid to hold it until you ungracefully step out of it. That’s how yoga works, you want to practice and hold these positions as long as you can so you can get better and better and eventually you could fall asleep in that position. I’ve fallen on my butt or on my hands and knees so many times but so is everyone else.
#8 – What to do during the ending of the class…
You have all heard the phrase “namaste”. Well namaste translates into “I bow to you”, and the very end of the class there is a little ending ceremony when we all namaste or bow. The instructor will end the class with some words of wisdom and guidance (this is the therapy part that I love). You will put your hands into prayer pose and place your thumbs over your eyebrows, which is your “third eye”, meaning the locus of occult power and wisdom, and you’ll say or think something along the lines of “thank you for thinking kind thoughts”. Then you will move your thumbs to your mouth (still in prayer pose) and you will say or think “thank you for speaking kind words”. And then you will move your hands (still in prayer pose) to your chest (heart’s center) and you will say or think something along the lines of “thank you for loving myself and for loving others”. Then you move your thumbs in prayer pose back to your third eye and the instructor will say some more final words of wisdom and then you will all say “namaste” and then bow your hands in prayer pose and your forehead still touching as far down to your mat as you can. Then the class is over and you put your blocks back and leave!
I love hot yoga so much. It’s always a great workout and an eye-opening and mind-opening therapeutic experience. I always leave feeling so light and fit, plus I always feel super happy and zen afterwards. I know that’s such a cliche but it’s true! Whatever I’ve been worrying about or stressing out about just seems to not matter as much.
I hope this guide on everything you need to know about hot yoga was helpful and that you’ll be able to walk into a hot yoga class super confident with your intentional practice 😉 Hot yoga is an amazing workout for those who are trying to tone your body and shed some fat. But it’s also an amazing workout for those who are happy with their body but just want to be able to stretch more or better and to be able to balance with more ease. I’ve had yoga classes with members of the University of Houston’s football team, the giant linebackers were in there stretching out their muscles in toning the muscles that weights can’t really get to. Hot yoga is great for everyone and for every body type!
Namaste friends 😉