Your First Hot Yoga Class

What to expect at your first hot yoga class.

Before Your Hot Yoga Class

If you have never done yoga, perhaps simply the word inspires images of hyper-flexible people positioning themselves into seemingly impossible, pretzel-like positions. Add the word “hot” to the mix and it really puts an exclamation point on it. Even for those with an already developed yoga practice, it can be pretty intimidating.

The good news is that there are some things you can do to prepare yourself, mentally and physically, for the challenge (and, yes, it IS a challenge):

  • Educate yourself. Ask questions. Find out from the studio where you plan to take your first class what temperature and humidity you can expect, what you need to bring to class, how early before class time to arrive, etc. This will will help make your first experience a lot less stressful.
  • Hydrate. Drink plenty of water, not only during the hot yoga class, but throughout the day leading up to your first class. This is essential. A healthy habit in its own right, good hydration supports healthy functioning of all of your body's systems and enables your body to dissipate heat more effectively thus making the heated environment a lot less overwhelming.
  • Relax. Take comfort in the fact that you are doing something wonderful for yourself. The great gift of yoga is that it will meet you wherever you need it to. Anyone can do it. You don’t need to be ridiculously flexible to begin a yoga practice. Yoga will help you become more flexible. If you are not extremely athletic, yoga will help you build strength and stamina. If you are overweight, yoga will help your body find a balance that is right for you. All you need to do is be willing and open to changing your life forever. So, congratulations on taking the first step towards living a richer, fuller life!

During Your Hot Yoga Class

Be prepared to sweat. Depending on the temperature (it varies from studio to studio), you might sweat a lot! Sweating, or more accurately the evaporation process, is how your body cools itself. For this reason is a good idea to wear light-weight clothing. Tank tops and shorts are ideal. Your body will be working very hard to regulate a safe core temperature (a process known as thermoregulation), especially when first beginning a hot yoga practice. Sensations including, fatigue, dizziness, and nausea are completely normal. Pace yourself. You don’t have to do everything in your first class. Listen to your body and take breaks when you feel you need to.

Many of the yoga postures in a hot yoga class twist and compress the abdomen. Backbends stretch the lining of the stomach. These positions can sometimes cause discomfort and nausea. Especially if you have recently eaten and a portion of that meal remains undigested in your stomach. Therefore, it is recommended for your comfort, that you do not eat a large meal 2 - 3 hours prior class.

As far as class structure and what postures are performed, well, that really varies from studio to studio and from teacher to teacher. Hot yoga teachers are highly trained and will help guide you through the posture sequences, offering modifications for your level and encouragement throughout. As a beginner, it might be helpful to position yourself in the back of the class so that you can look up to see the more experienced people performing the postures.

After Your Hot Yoga Class

Everyone’s experience with hot yoga is different. After class you may feel tired or you can feel super energized. Just be sure to continue drinking lots of water to replace what was lost during class. Electrolyte supplements like Emergen-C are also helpful, especially when beginning a hot yoga practice and acclimatization process.

You can expect muscle soreness and perhaps fatigue for a few days following your class. It is more likely, however, that you feel the increased energy and self esteem that follows after having done something both incredibly difficult and incredibly good for you. It is a good idea to take another class as soon as possible to avoid excessive muscle soreness (again, drinking water helps this).

Just know that your first few hot yoga classes are all about information. That’s it. You will receive lot of new information and it can be overwhelming. Simply take inventory of your body. If you can’t do something, don’t. Ask questions after class and give yourself room to explore and be curious.

Hot yoga can be a very empowering practice. You don’t know what you are capable of until you try. Let your hot yoga classes be a safe place to explore your untapped potential. So, here’s to you as you embark on your hot, sweaty, and amazingly powerful journey!

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Lindsay Fields Hot Yoga Teacher

Written by Lindsay Fields

Lindsay is a Certified Barkan Method Hot Yoga instructor currently teaching in Asheville, NC USA. Lindsay is passionate about helping people discover their untapped potential through yoga.