If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that last night I tried my first heated yoga class. And boy, what an experience. I figured I’d write about my thoughts on it for my first fitness review.
What is heated yoga? Simply put, it’s yoga done in a heated room. Typically, hot yoga is held in a room around 100 degrees, usually in the Bikram style. However, rather than jumping into a hot yoga class, I decided to try warm yoga. The warm vinyasa class was heated to about 85 degrees, with heavy “climate curtains” keeping the heat in the studio.
As the class before ours ended, I knew I was in for a shocker. People were walking out of the studio covered in sweat, with their mascara surrounding their eyes. Everyone carried a water bottle. Many had towels draped over their shoulder. Some were wearing nothing more than a sports bra and shorts.
When my fiancée and I first entered the studio, my jaw nearly dropped. The lights were dimmed, there was a row of votive candles burning along the front wall, and there were tape marks on the ground to help keep everyone’s mats in line. A very beautiful and spiritual place.
Before the class even started, I was sweating. Not badly, but it was noticeable. I also noticed that the people around me either had special yoga mat towels (like this one) on their mat or a small regular towel nearby. I had nothing. Uh oh. As people settled in, students began talking to each other, and it was obvious that this was a group who mostly knew each other. Everyone seemed very friendly and both excited and anxious about the class.
As the clock hit 7:00, our instructor took her place at the front of the room and introduced herself. We began with a simple child’s pose as she talked about taking care of your body and getting in touch with your breathing. This slow start allowed my lungs to get used to the heavy humidity in the studio.
As we went on, the poses became more vigorous, with a common flow of downward facing dog into plank position, then lowered down and into a small cobra pose. My arms are still killing me today!
All in all, the class was incredible. My fiancée and I agree that the heat allows you to be much more pliable. For example, by the second or third downward dog, my heels were on the ground, something that normally takes me a half hour of stretching. The downsides are obvious, though: you get really sweaty. My headband works well… but only when I’m right-side-up. In a pose like downward facing dog, the sweat simply runs from my chin into my eyes. And onto my lips. And dripping off my nose. The sweat also means that your hands (and, in my fiancée’s case, feet) will be slipping. Besides the sweat factor, the heat and humidity can make it hard to breathe if you’re not used to it. I had to step out of the studio once, as did my fiancée and another student, to calm the breath. However, if you arrive to class early to get used to it a bit, it’s not as bad as you may expect.
- Wear a headband. It may not do much in upside-down poses, but it helps otherwise.
- If you have long hair, put it up. And not just in a ponytail. Make sure your hair can’t get in your face, or I guarantee that it will end up stuck to your face, and your shoulders, and your back, and your chest as you move around.
- Bring water. A big water bottle is best. But I’d suggest bringing only cool, not ice cold, water or you may shock your system. (In fact, I drank my frozen lemonade too quickly after class and ended up with awful pain all the way from my throat to my stomach.)
- Feel free to step out of the studio if you’re feeling dizzy or lightheaded.
- Bring a towel. Even if it’s just a little dishtowel to wipe your hands off on.
Have you ever tried heated yoga? What did you think of it?