Let’s Talk Hot Yoga: Common Misconceptions
At 105 degrees and 40% humidity Hot Yoga could be the class you sign up for when Hades freezes over! But let me see if I can help clear up a few mistaken ideas that may have been keeping you from the room.
1) If the room is that steamy it has got to be like a gross locker room! This one I have experienced before actually! A high-end studio in Seattle Washington that was amazing in all areas—except the hot yoga room. The hot yoga room was high ceilinged, concrete walled, and smelled- yup you had it right-like a locker room. The bodies were stacked wall to wall front to back and the class was vigorous (read sweat was being shared by bodies close by-eww!) and taught by a voice I could only hear but not see due to all the students. It was a workout—but only a work in from an “endure this until its over” kind of way.
What this taught me? Always investigate the hot space before I get there for class! If I am traveling, which I do a lot -I look for pictures online that most closely resemble my home space for hot yoga -spacious and with a description like the one Body Balance has: a state-of-the-art heat and humidity distribution system and upgraded air filtration system to ensure the highest level of air quality. With this description the smelliest thing I usually encounter is the cool cloth with lavender scent at the end of the hour!
2) I am not a practice yoga in my bathing suit kind of person! Right?! Not my cup of tea either! This one also is a do your research moment. There are Bikram yoga studios throughout this country who do practice hot yoga in very little clothing and that works for them. However, most studios today who offer a variety of practice experiences will be the type of place where your regular yoga togs will be just right. Take a glance at the website-typically a few pictures and class descriptions will give you what you need to know.
3) There is no way I can do vigorous vinyasa flow in that heat! Rest assured – many yogis are with you on this one! However, many studios offer an all-levels accessible class. This class is often scripted to include between 26 and 30 postures and paced more slowly with plenty of water/towel/rest breaks. Connecting with your breath and taking your practice where it wants to go in any given moment, you are encouraged to go deeper or take a resting pose whenever it is calling you. Now if the class description says HOT POWER FLOW—that might be a different story—
4) 105 degrees is just too hot! Yeah, I get this one-especially if you live in Virginia and all points south from here! We are accustomed to fleeing from such temps to our air conditioning or our pools and oceans! Here is the neat thing about hot yoga rooms-they are a certain type of hot with a certain % humidity. Specifically, 105 degrees and 40% humidity This means that it is different than being in the scorching Virginia sun with 100% humidity. Mind you, I am not saying you do not sweat! I am saying that by controlling the temp/humidity ratio the heat of this room will warm your joints and muscles and still allow you to move and breathe without making you feel as if you must curl into the nearest icebox!
Some of the benefits many, including yours truly, experience from hot yoga? Improved body stamina and conditioning, increased blood circulation, increased flexibility and bonus-it is great for your skin! Now that you know a little bit more about what to look for, hot yoga could be an experience waiting for you! I sincerely hope you will give it a try. Bring your water and your practice and we will meet on the mat!