Amidst the global pandemic and with more time spent at home, we're leaning into yoga to move our bodies and find a state of calm. For those who are considering taking their yoga practice to the next level by adding in the element of heat, then we're leaving this one here for you.
Granted exercise can be daunting at the best of times but hot yoga is in a realm of its own. There are lots of myths around hot yoga, and many of them keep beginners from giving it a try. Thankfully most of them are completely untrue. That's why today we're digging into the common misconceptions around hot yoga in order to remove any barriers that are keeping you from giving it a try.
It’s just a stretching class.
Stretching is a key component of every hot yoga class for good reason. According to experts in Integrative Medicine by Rahav Wellness in NYC, stretching improves posture, reduces stress, improves mechanical efficiency, and reduces your risk of injury both in and out of the studio.
But there’s so much more to hot yoga than just stretching. There are endless physical benefits, including improved stamina, posture, balance, circulation, and metabolism. With regular practice you will build strength and tone your muscles, too.
In fact, hot yoga is a fantastic cardio workout as well. Many beginners are surprised at how much their heart rate increases during certain postures. Every class is a challenge no matter what your fitness level is but just remember that you're in control.
I’m not flexible enough.
This is a common concern, but you don’t have to be flexible to start practicing hot yoga. It is not a prerequisite but rather a byproduct of practicing hot yoga. Just like other types of yoga, each pose can be adjusted for fitness level and intensity, and your instructor will walk you through any adjustments you need to make.
You should perform the poses at a level that’s comfortable for you. In fact, the heat will help to warm up your ligaments, joints, and muscles more than a regular yoga class. And the more you practice, the flexible you will become, which is one of the many rewards of practicing hot yoga.
I’ll get super thirsty and won't be allowed to drink water during class.
Above all else, yoga is about listening to your body. So of course, you'll be encouraged to drink water if you need to. In fact it's recommended, so bring a water bottle with you and don’t forget to hydrate well before class, too!
I’ll look all red-faced and sweaty.
While it’s true that it does get hot and humid in a hot yoga study, the temperature isn’t uncomfortably high. Yes, you will sweat, but so will everyone else, including the instructor. Red faces are part of a hot yoga class so you shouldn’t let it bother you. It will be worth it because you’ll feel amazing afterward.
Most people get used to the heat after a few classes and you’ll cool down quickly after class. A towel placed over your mat will absorb any sweat and keep it from getting slippery, and you can bring a separate one for your face, too. Most people choose quick-drying, breathable fabrics for extra comfort.
Other people will sweat on me.
Class numbers are limited to allow everyone plenty of space to spread out without getting too close to your neighbor. After all, you need to be able to stretch out your arms and legs fully to perform many of the poses. Don’t worry, it’s a no-contact, low-impact activity!
I won’t be able to leave if I don’t like it.
Of course, we hope you’ll stay for the whole class and love it, but nobody is going to lock the door. You are free to leave anytime you want. We’ve all been the new kid in class at some point, so we understand that it can take some time to acclimatize to the heat.
It’s also important to know that your teacher will be keeping an eye on you throughout your first few classes and if you're feeling nervous just let them know. They'll recommend rest breaks when you need them too. Sitting down and breathing is never frowned upon, so don’t force yourself to power through if you’re overheated.
In fact, you won’t be the only one. Many people will take breaks, sit down or rest in childs pose, and join back up with the class when they’re ready. The more you practice, the better you’ll keep up and the fewer rest breaks you’ll need to take.
Hot yoga is just for women.
This is simply not true! Hot yoga is an inclusive space for people of all gender identities. It’s also calming and de-stressing, as well as challenging. It makes a great complement to other sports, like weightlifting or running.
I’m too self-conscious. I’ll be embarrassed.
The truth, once the class gets going, everyone is too busy focusing on the task at hand to worry about anybody else. If there are mirrors, they can actually be very useful because they allow you to check your alignment and help you maintain balance during certain postures.
People of all ages, sizes and shapes love hot yoga and you can wear whatever makes you comfortable. If you’re worried about losing your balance or making a mistake when performing a pose, don’t! It happens to everyone, even instructors from time to time. Just laugh it off and get back into the flow. No big deal! That's why yoga is called a 'practice' because we are all learning every time we step onto the mat.
I can’t do yoga because I have a bad back, bad knees, or problems with my shoulders.
You might be surprised that practicing hot yoga can actually relieve and even heal many aches and pains. It’s a great way to stay active while you’re recovering from a minor injury. That said, everyone should be mindful of their limits and stop if something doesn’t feel right.
Speak with the teacher before your class so that they can advise you on any adjustments to make. If you have a medical condition or injury, your instructor will know what poses you should avoid or how to modify them as needed. There will be lots of poses you can do because each class devotes time to the entire body.
And finally, how do I know hot yoga is for me?
The truth, just about anyone can and should practice hot yoga, since maintaining your health is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. It’s not just about being physically fit, but also about relieving chronic stress… and who doesn’t have that?