I was convinced to give hot yoga a try after reading an article on all of the associated benefits. This also just so happened to be in the middle of winter, making the whole thing sound extra appealing to me. Actually, that doesn't quite capture just how desperate I was for warmth at the time. To give you a better idea... we had just experienced the "polar vortex", and temperatures outside were below zero. On one particular day, it was legitimately -30 degrees outside - oh the joys of living in Milwaukee, WI! Needless to say, both 105 and 95 degrees sounded like a dream come true after dealing with that madness.
I quickly learned that there are two different kinds of hot yoga: Vinyasa Flow and Bikram. These two different classes feature different paces, mostly different poses and different temperatures. Vinyasa is faster paced, with the temperature resting at about 95 degrees, and typically lasts for an hour and 15 minutes with some music playing in the background. Bikram is both slower and much hotter, with the temperature resting at 105, with 50% humidity levels. The typical duration of a Bikram class is 90 minutes.
I tried Bikram first. I want to make it clear that I wasn't a huge fan of yoga before taking these classes - I had taken a few classes in college and found it to be a bit boring. This was not the case for Bikram. The heat made it extremely challenging, but also somehow easier to focus on my breathing and the movements of my body. It was difficult, and I was sore after, but I felt hugely accomplished. I could tell that I had had a great workout.
I had a similar experience with Vinyasa. The heat seemed to help me focus. I found that Vinyasa was a bit more enjoyable for me, due to the lower heat and the faster pace, and that's the class I have been sticking with, trying to go to at least two classes per week.
Want to give it a try? Here are a few things you'll need to survive your first class hot yoga class, whether you choose Bikram or Vinyasa Flow.
1. Yoga mat: There's actually quite a lot of diversity when it comes to these mats. Some are thicker and offer more cushion. Prices can also vary quite a bit. I have a Manduka yoga mat, and I love it.
2. Towels: I recommend either two normal sized towels or a large towel. You're going to sweat A LOT and having a towel or two to cover the top of your yoga mat can really help to keep the sweat from making your mat slippery.
3. Water bottle: It's simply a must! Have to stay hydrated.
4. Tight fitting clothes with moisture wicking fabrics. Avoid cotton.
5. A large gym bag to hold it all together - the one above is my dream gym bag from Lo & Sons.