8 Things to Expect From Your First Hot Yoga Class

Tem­per­a­tures over 100 degrees, sweat com­ing out of places you didn’t even know could sweat, and a smell that can only be described as wet-dog-meets-hock­ey-gear: Who wouldn’t want to try hot yoga?

In all seri­ous­ness, hot yoga can be incred­i­bly ben­e­fi­cial, whether you’re look­ing to improve your strength and flex­i­bil­i­ty or you just want a warm escape dur­ing this chilly time of the year.8 Things to Expect From Your First Hot Yoga Class

Even if you reg­u­lar­ly prac­tice oth­er forms of yoga, hot yoga can be intim­i­dat­ing. The fol­low­ing points will help clar­i­fy some of your ques­tions and help you work up the con­fi­dence to give it a shot.

Con­di­tion Your­self Ahead of Time
Hot yoga can be demand­ing, so make sure your body is ready. First, make sure you’re prop­er­ly hydrat­ed, which is best done by drink­ing water reg­u­lar­ly all the time, not chug­ging sev­er­al bot­tles in the hours lead­ing up to class. You’ll also want to arrive with a rel­a­tive­ly emp­ty stom­ach. If you’re hun­gry ahead of time, have a light snack, like fruit or nuts. You’ll regret indulging in sweets or rich foods pri­or to class. Final­ly, lis­ten to your body. Hot yoga is not your friend if you have a hang­over or if you feel like you’re com­ing down with some­thing. If your best needs rest, give it what it needs.

You’ll Get Used to the Heat
The heat of the stu­dio might feel intense at first, espe­cial­ly if you’ve just stepped in from win­tery con­di­tions. Though it might be hard to believe, your body will adjust to the heat, and it won’t take long. Your mind will be so engaged with what’s going on with your body—balance, place­ment, alignment—that it will for­get about the heat.

Don’t Let Sweat Bring You Down (Lit­er­al­ly)
Expect to sweat—a lot. You will want to bring two tow­els with you: a hand tow­el to wipe off sweat between asanas (pos­es), and a larg­er tow­el to lay over your mat. There are microfiber tow­els specif­i­cal­ly made for yoga mats, which your stu­dio might have for you to rent or bor­row. Alter­na­tive­ly, a beach tow­el should do the trick. If you forego the tow­el, you’ll find that your mat will get very slip­pery with sweat, mak­ing the class much more dif­fi­cult than it needs to be.

Breathe
If you’ve tak­en yoga before, you’ll know that your breath should guide your prac­tice. This is espe­cial­ly true for hot yoga. Let your body take the deep inhales and exhales that it needs, and notice when your breath pat­tern changes: this is usu­al­ly your body giv­ing you a sig­nal. Short, shal­low breaths will tell you that you have gone too far. Hold­ing your breath is a sign that you should ease off a little.

Stay Inward
Hot yoga is incredible—just ask the girl next to you who has attend­ed a hot class every day for the last eight years and is cur­rent­ly con­tor­tioned into an impres­sive pret­zel. As in most yoga class­es, not every­one in the class will be at the same lev­el. Don’t feel dis­cour­aged if you can’t take the same vari­a­tion of a pose as every­one else in your class. Your first hot yoga class is about get­ting used to the tem­per­a­ture, the pos­es, and the envi­ron­ment. Allow your­self to make progress over time.

Know When to Back Off
Even those who prac­tice hot yoga reg­u­lar­ly will have their off days, so don’t feel bad­ly if you need to take a rest. Though it might be tempt­ing to run out of the heat­ed room, don’t! The sud­den change in tem­per­a­ture might be too much. Instead, take a break from the pos­es and lie down on your back. Wait until your body mel­lows out before get­ting back into the series of poses.

Don’t Over­think, Just Do
Your inner mono­logue through­out your first hot yoga class might sound like a pro­longed scream, or it might con­tain a few exple­tives. Ignore it, and fol­low the teacher’s instruc­tion. Don’t think “I can’t” before attempt­ing a pose. Takes cues from the teacher and from your body.

Keep Your Prac­tice Sus­tain­able
You did it! You might feel a lit­tle shaky after your first class, but you’ll also feel empow­ered and strong. It’s a feel­ing like no oth­er. Now, give your body what is deserves. Rehy­dra­tion is essen­tial: replace the flu­id you lost through sweat. Take it easy for the rest of the day. If you loved the class, then find a way to incor­po­rate it into your reg­u­lar rou­tine. If you’re not sure, con­sid­er try­ing a class with anoth­er instruc­tor, or seek out a dif­fer­ent style of hot yoga. If you hat­ed it—well, at least you tried it!