I’m sure you’ve seen a hot yoga studio pop up in your neighborhood, or maybe you have that friend who keeps bragging about their perfect Shivasana pose. Whatever the case if you are thinking about trying hot yoga for the first time, this guide will have you covered on How To: Hot Yoga!
The Basics: There are a few different types of hot yoga studios, the two most common are Moksha Yoga and Bikram Yoga. For beginners, Moksha is generally the better way to start. Moksha yoga studios will usually have a fairly large schedule with many different types of classes offered from beginners to intermediate. They also tend to have a few classes a week that are in reduced heat which might be a relief to those who want to begin at an easier pace. Moksha yoga will also offer different lengths of classes, so be mindful when studying the schedule, there is nothing worse than thinking you’re attending a 60 minute class to find out that it is actually 90 minutes! Most classes are an hour long, however most studios will offer 75 and 90 minute classes. Bikram Yoga, also known as too little Shivanasa, too much Shivanasa (try not to laugh too hard in class when you realize this) is a 90 minute practice. Born in Calcutta in the 1940’s, Bikram yoga focuses on only 26 postures. These postures are held for almost a minute and are practiced twice in each class. Many find Bikram to be less challenging because of its repetitive nature. Once you master each of the poses, the hour and a half of practice time doesn’t seem so tedious. However for new comers to yoga, longer classes are more challenging to complete and because there is little variation in their schedule, many lose the motivation to continue attending classes.
Getting Started: After you have decided which type of yoga practice best suits your needs, take a look at their website (if they have one) and find out what their schedule is like. If there are different names for the classes such as Hatha, and Restorative, speak with someone at the studio to get a description of the class and ask whether it is right for your practice level. Most studios also have an introductory month special. Usually for the price of $40.00CAN you can enjoy one month of unlimited hot yoga. They recommend that you attend classes at least 3-4 times a week in order to see the benefits of your practice. After you complete this one month intro, membership prices for hot yoga are more expensive than the average gym membership. Prices can range anywhere between $80.00-150.00CAN for a month’s membership depending on the studio.
What to Bring: You will need a large bottle of water (you are encouraged to use a reusable water bottle). You will also need a yoga mat which can be purchased from the studio. Most studios will offer rental mats usually for $2.00CAN however, the relationship with your mat is an intimate one and after seeing the puddles of sweat that are formed after an intense class you might want to invest in your own. A large towel will be needed to spread on top of your mat to collect your sweat, another can be used later to towel off sweat.
Yoga Studio Etiquette: Studios generally have a very strict etiquette, so it’s best to understand it before you inadvertently offend your fellow practitioners. Firstly, you must come to the studio at least 15 minutes ahead of class time to change and set your mat down. Make sure your mat, towel and water bottle are with you inside the class room, not left in the change room. You must enter the room in complete silence, and walk on your toes. Once the class has started you are neither permitted to enter nor leave the class room. You must remain inside the room until the class is finished. Place your mat on the ground and spread your towel over it. Then lay down facing away from the mirrors, with your palms facing up. Remain quiet until your instructor begins the class, then relax and enjoy!
Disclaimer: You should speak with your doctor prior to beginning any new workout routine to make sure that this type of exercise is right for you. Hot yoga is not for everyone and people with diabetes are not encouraged to practice. But don’t despair! There are always a number of studios that offer yoga without the heat that will still allow you to enjoy to benefits of yoga!