It's 105 degrees with 40% humidity. Welcome to hot yoga.
Unlike Vinyasa yoga, a style that varies widely studio-to-studio and teacher-to-teacher, Bikram hot yoga classes always follow the same series of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises.
The room is HOT by design, giving you a detoxifying sweat and an unbeatable high once class is over (assuming you can make it to Savasana).
If you're headed to a Bikram or heated yoga class in your town, don't be intimidated. You're in for an unbeatable workout and a lot of fun. Here's everything you need to know:
1. Pee First!
In many Bikram studios, students are encouraged not to leave the sauna-like room once class begins. If you can't complete a posture (or think you might faint), you're allowed to take a seat on your mat and rest. But leaving the classroom is technically forbidden.
Not all hot yoga teachers enforce this rule, but some do. We say play it safe. Go to the bathroom first, just in case.
2. Bring Water
Water is mandatory when going to hot yoga. Those precious seconds of your water break will be the highlight of an intensely challenging class (physically and mentally).
Do NOT leave water behind.
Also remember not to guzzle it down anytime you feel thirsty.
In Bikram hot yoga, the teacher will cue specific times to drink between sets of postures.
The good news is that most Bikram studios always have water for sale. But we say save your money (and the environment) with this Takeya water bottle.
This glass bottle's flip cap means you won't be struggling to unscrew a bottle cap with sweat-drenched hands in the middle of class. When the room is blazing hot, carefully managing your water supply so you have enough throughout class, is a serious issue. Another reason we love the Takeya bottle for hot yoga is that its see-through sides show you exactly how much water you have left, allowing you to monitor your intake.
3. Look Cute
We always want to color coordinate our outfits for yoga, but if you're headed to Bikram hot yoga, it's essential that you like what you're wearing -
You'll be staring at it all class!
Unlike Hatha or Vinyasa yoga studios, Bikram hot yoga classes have mirrors. You're actually cued by the teacher throughout class to focus in on your own eyes and use your reflection as a tool to focus and refine your form.
When you're staring at yourself for 90-minutes straight, you want to like what you're looking at.
4. Less is More
On the topic of apparel, when you're doing head-to-knee pose in a sweltering room with 25 other bodies, less is really more. You do not want to be wearing anything that's warm, long-sleeved or not-easily-washable.
If you're headed to heated Vinyasa yoga, where you might be doing arm balances (like crow pose), Onzie's wicking, long pants are a good choice so your perspiring legs don't slip on your sweaty arms.
However, if you're headed to traditional Bikram hot yoga, the 26 Bikram postures do not include arm balances. You'll just want to be wearing as little clothing as possible.
5. Invest in a Sweat Proof Mat
Yoga Design Lab is our favorite yoga mat brand for Bikram hot yoga.
Their gorgeous, towel-top mats are specifically designed for sweat-drenched classes.
The mat gets stickier when wet, so you never have to worry about slipping. You can also throw Yoga Design Lab's mats in the washing machine too for easy cleaning, which is ideal for a hot yoga addict.
6. Towels, Towels, Towels
Most Bikram studios have towels for rent. But those towels have been used by hundreds of students and are abused by industrial washer/dryers on a daily basis.
As absurd as it may seem, you're going to want THREE towels for your hot yoga class: One to place on your mat during class, one to use on your body after your shower, and one to mop sweat off your hands and brow during class.
For wiping sweat off your hands and face we love the Sporti Studio Hot Yoga Hand Towel. It's soft, compact, and a steal at $5!
6. Bring Your Toiletries
We have yet to go to a Bikram hot yoga studio that doesn't have showers (thanks goodness). Unless you can beeline home to your own bathroom, you're likely going to want to shower there. Whomever you're meeting next will thank you.
Make sure to pack your travel size shampoo, conditioner, and bodywash. These items are usually not available for rent.
Heading to hot yoga is a bit more of a project than going to Restorative.
You want to make sure you're well-hydrated, properly attired, and lugging a bag full of clean clothes to change into, your towels, and showering items. (Don't forget a plastic or waterproof bag to put your sweaty clothes and used towels INTO after class).
It can feel like packing for a camping trip at first, but you'll soon get into a routine. With lots of water and the right gear, you'll be strolling out of hot yoga and into your life feeling better than ever.
There are few things in this world that leave you feeling as amazing as 90-minutes of yoga in heat.
About the Author
Brett Larkin teaches yoga and meditation on her YouTube channel, where thousands of students have studied with her for more than 10 million minutes. Find her "yoga hacks," yoga teacher training tips, and free yoga/meditation classes at BrettLarkin.com.