Bikram Yoga, Moksha Yoga, Hot Yoga—what are they and what are the Hot Yoga benefits that everyone is talking about? I decided to find out and went to a Moksha Yoga class in Toronto’s Danforth area. Here are the things I learned as a Hot Yoga beginner!
1. What’s so great about it?
Lots of things! While I don’t know about the science behind the alleged detoxification benefits of hot yoga, I can say that it has definitely helped me reduce stress and build strength and muscle tone. The heat helps your muscles warm up, allowing you to safely deepen your movement and poses—making it an excellent workout.
2. How do I embrace the sweat?
You will be dripping with sweat—and that’s not an exaggeration. You will be in an incredibly hot room while you are trying to work out. As someone who is generally neither a fan of heat nor exercise, this was very hard for me at first. Some people initially feel self-conscious about sweating, but remember that everyone in that room is in the same situation. In all the classes I have been to, there has never been anyone who came out not drenched in sweat. Just try to be ready for it; your skin will be slippery and you are going to want to shower the minute you leave the room—and that’s okay!
3. How do I choose a hot yoga class?
I had to learn this the hard way. I went to the first available class after signing up and it was 90 minutes long. That is a long time for a first try at hot yoga, and I have to admit that I did not love my first class. A week later, I ended up going to a shorter class, and I absolutely preferred it over the first one. As with most new things, it’s best to start small and work your way up from there!
4. What equipment do I need to practise hot yoga?
Really, you just need workout clothes you are comfortable in and a water bottle. Most yoga studios can lend you a yoga mat and a towel if you don’t have your own, but there can be fees, so it’s best to check with your studio in advance. Yoga towels are very fancy and are designed to fit perfectly on your yoga mat to keep it from getting sweaty and slippery during your practice. Are they absolutely necessary? Not really. Many people just bring a large towel that they place on top of their mat, and that works just fine. You might also want to consider bringing an additional towel to wipe your face, if you are not comfortable with sweat slowly dripping down it.
5. What do I wear?
I’ll be honest, this sounded silly to me—until the second I wore the absolute wrong thing to class. While there are lots of brands advertising special “heat gear” or “active dry” technologies, you really just want to stay away from cotton and wear some type of breathable material that is not too thick. The fabric should absorb some of the sweat without getting too heavy. The truth is that everyone is different, and everyone prefers different workout clothes. You might think that you have to wear as little clothing as possible because it’s so hot in the room—and that works for some people. But personally, I actually prefer wearing long or cropped yoga pants if they are made out of a breathable, thin fabric. Sweaty, slippery skin can make it hard to hold onto another body part in some poses. Really, this one comes down to personal preference and a bit of trial and error.
6. How much water should I bring?
Bringing a water bottle to hot yoga is an absolute must. You will need to drink lots of water, and not just while you’re sweating—you need to keep hydrated before, during and after your yoga practice. You are going to want to come to the class already well hydrated, and do NOT stop drinking water after your practice. The good thing is that this one is actually pretty easy. Once you spend an hour working out in a boiling hot room, you will want all the water you can get—trust me!
7. Is hot yoga an actual workout, and what do I do if it gets too intense for me?
I was not so sure about this before my first class. How intense could yoga possibly be when you are in such a hot room? Well, I was wrong. Just like many forms of yoga, this is an excellent workout, and you will definitely feel it the next day. The heat also warms up your muscles and allows you to move deeper into some of the poses, intensifying your workout. If at any point you find the poses too challenging or you start to feel lightheaded and dizzy, it’s absolutely okay to take a rest in child’s pose or even to step out of the room for a minute. If, on the other hand, you are worried that it’s not an intense enough workout for you, keep in mind that studios usually offer different classes for different levels to match the type of practice you’re looking for.
New to yoga and want to learn more? Check out On the Danforth’s beginner’s guide to yoga.