hot yoga 101

lindsay on the mat

Above: Lindsay keeps cool in a pair of Boogie On Shorts and a Power Y Tank.

Adding heat to certain things introduces an element of fun: popcorn kernels, a relationship, even the yoga room! My first hot yoga class was not what I expected and I felt muscles the next day I didn’t know I had. I avoided hot yoga for a few weeks, but then decided to try another class with a different style. I felt more in tune with my body and its needs, and I now have a newfound love for the heated room.

For those who haven’t tried hot yoga, here are some tips for first timers that want to give it a try.

Do your research

What are some popular hot yoga studios in your community? Ask friends that have been to a hot yoga class and see how they liked it. If you like structure and routine, Bikram may be for you. If you prefer a little more variety each class in poses and intensity, try Moksha. Many studios have a one week unlimited class pass for beginners, so don’t be afraid to ask.

What to bring

A yoga mat, water, towel, and an open mind. If you’re a quick sweat-er, join the club! Start with a regular beach or shower towel beside you, but you might find it beneficial to lay it across your whole mat. Some prefer a yogi-toes towel because they add extra grip to your hands, feet and mat.

What to wear

Comfort is key. I personally love my Cool Racerback Tank as a staple top. For bottoms, I alternate between Boogie On Shorts for a closer fit, and my Rock Out Crops for more coverage on my legs. Both items are moisture wicking and four-way stretch, perfect for a heated class. If you prefer natural fabrics, try lighter weight cottons like pima cotton.


Before class

Avoid heavy meals 2 hours before your class and try not to snack anything too big right before your class. Arrive 15-20 minutes before your first class. If you happen to catch your instructor before the class begins, let him/her know it’s your first time! Find a space either in the middle or the back of the room so you can follow along easily and have a good view of the instructor. Relax ☺

What to expect

You’ll get sweaty and hot quickly so sip water when you need to. More importantly, breathe deeply. The heat will alter your breaths so make sure this is top of mind. And never do anything you don’t feel comfortable doing. Child’s pose and savasana/corpse pose are encouraged when you need a rest.

After class

The heat from hot yoga is meant to detoxify you. Make sure to drink plenty of water after your class. Notice how you feel that evening and the following day before you attend another class.

The greatest thing about hot yoga is that anyone can try it, and anyone can do it. You don’t have to be experienced or flexible, just open to a new experience that could add a little hot fun in your life!

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Sounds like fun ;)

Comment by Jenn — September 8, 2009 @ 3:17 pm

Thanks for that post, it was really helpful!

Comment by Jamie — September 8, 2009 @ 6:01 pm

There is a popular place near my home and I’ve been dying to try it but….I’m African American with a relaxer (hair can’t be washed daily) and I’m worried about sweating out my hair!

Comment by Kasey — September 8, 2009 @ 9:05 pm

How are most hot studios heated? What kind of heater? Is there air purification and humidity?

Comment by Sissy — September 11, 2009 @ 10:44 pm

I have been doing Bikram yoga for three years now and I still find it a challange. Rooms are usually heated by either portable heaters or central heating, to upwards of 105 degrees with the humdity varying. To really give the hot yoga a real shot, attend class three times a week for a month or so and then see how your body feels; your body will guarantee feel differently. I just turned thirty and I’ve never felt better or looked better. Namaste

Comment by Stacey — September 12, 2009 @ 10:13 am

Hi Everyone,

Stacey is totally right! To really feel and see the benefits of hot yoga you need to try it a few times at least before deciding whether or not it is for you. I remember the first time I did Bikrams, it can definitley be a little intimidating but if you go in with a positive attitude and an open mind I guarantee that you will feel phenomenal after your class.

In regards to the heating, it varies studio by studio. If you’re curious about the way they heat their rooms I’d probably just give them a quick call to find out since there are many ways this is done. The studio I go to actually uses Infrared Heat in their Hot Yoga Classes! Apparently their one of a few yoga studios in the world that offers this!


Comment by lululemon athletica — September 14, 2009 @ 2:21 pm

I personally like Moksha yoga. It’s another form of hot yoga, but it’s a little cooler in the room (about 37 C as opposed to 40 C). There are also 40 poses instead of 26 and allows for a little more flexibility in the types of poses. And there’s some core work too! But like Leah says, you’ve got to try it out a few times and get used to it.

Comment by Colleen — July 11, 2010 @ 8:08 pm

Thanks! We’ll add something about Moksha yoga to our site soon!

Comment by Robert Kittinger — December 6, 2011 @ 5:01 pm

I love Bikram yoga!

Comment by Annika — January 17, 2012 @ 10:18 am

This is great info. Thanks! I have been wanting to try Hot Yoga, but haven’t been brave enough yet. I know several people who do it and always try and talk me into it. I just dont know what to expect, but your blog has some great tips.

Thanks again!

Comment by Cactus Facts — January 20, 2012 @ 10:00 am

Hot Yoga is great!! I have been doing infared yoga for the last week and for the first time in a very long time I feel like this is something that I can stick with!!!

Comment by Heather — March 5, 2012 @ 10:39 am

I just started taking Bikram Yooga and love it! The first day was a bit tough getting used to the heat, poses and breathing but today, on day 7, I find myself feeling so relaxed, doing the poses unlike before and enjoying the benefits of the hot temperature. I hope I continue to do this type of yoga.

Comment by Lesley — December 10, 2012 @ 7:34 pm

I am an African American woman and I just tried Bikram Yoga this past Friday and Saturday. It will definitely ruin your hair do. I’m trying to transition from a relaxer to a natural style so that I can continue to do Bikram. Otherwise, I loved it.

Comment by Natalie — January 23, 2013 @ 10:32 pm

Thank you for the post! I am trying a class tonight, and I have been feeling SO intimidated, not knowing how I will deal in the heat, but your tips are reassuring. :)

Comment by Angie — March 25, 2013 @ 1:46 pm

I should have read this before my first time!

Comment by Jessica — June 9, 2013 @ 4:57 pm

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