I’m not going to lie. I was rather sceptical about this hot yoga thing. Being crammed in a room with 50 sweaty strangers while attempting to manoeuvre my body into anomalous shapes didn’t sound very appealing.
But after weeks of coaxing (accompanied by the promise of dinner and drinks afterwards – much more my forte) my yogi gal pal had me agreeing to give it a shot. Plus, I’d heard Beyoncé and Madonna were diehard fans. If I exited class looking anything like either of them, I’d have my money’s worth and more.
Oblivious to the sheer discomfort I was about to (voluntarily) endure, I stepped naively into the furnace that was my first hot yoga class. Ninety minutes later, I emerged. Somehow still conscious, but seriously questioning the sanity of my yogi pal and her sweaty yogi mates.
What I didn’t expect is that one year later, I’d still be visiting my local studio for a regular fix of ‘Namaste.’ Yes, it’s weirdly addictive. And although I’m not usually one for health trends or fitness fads (thanks Kayla, but I’m happy rocking my jiggly bits) this sweaty yoga stuff was rather good. For the mind, body and soul (I’m told). Want to give it a go? Here are some things every rookie should know before attempting their first hot yoga flow:
1. The tighter and brighter, the better
While most of us would agree neon died in the ’90s, in the yoga studio, fluorescent lives on. Like seriously, it’s alive and thriving. I’d advise against arriving at your first class dressed in head-to-toe black. You’ll look like the Grim Reaper next to your fellow yogi fellas, who embrace pattern, colour and psychedelic prints like it’s going out of fashion. Think Salt-N-Pepa upside down on a rubber mat. You’ll fit in just fine if you look anything like that.
2. Take a towel
I know this advice might seem a little obvious for those of you that frequent the gym. But I am not one of those people. Thus, I did not know the ‘towel’ rule. Forget the nudie run from bathroom to bedroom on year-nine camp. If you ever regret forgetting a towel in your life, this will be that time. You will drip sweat and you will want to dry yourself mid-dog. DON’T FORGET A TOWEL (*it can/should also be brightly coloured).
3. Don’t wear mascara
Unless you want to look like a sad, sweaty panda after class. Waterproof mascara will suffice if you just can’t go without.
4. Avoid moisturising beforehand
When folding your limbs around your ears amid 40-degree heat, things can start to get slippery. Add a pair of freshly moisturised limbs to the equation, and you’re guaranteed collateral damage. You will slip and slide from one side of the studio to the other. And while yogis are generally calm people, they won’t appreciate some slippery, slimy, over-lubricated rookie interrupting their ‘Drishti’ (yogi language for gaze/focal point).
5. Beware, the ‘OHHHHHMMMMMMMMMMMMM’
If there was one thing I wish I had known before hitting my first hot yoga class, it was this. Because heck, upon enduring my first ‘ohhmmm’ mantra, I jumped so high I almost hit the roof. Yes, yogi’s hum. And they do it really loudly. Later, I discovered the ‘ohm’ is a chant to calm the mind; to invite a higher level of consciousness. It certainly stimulated my consciousness. I was on edge for the rest of the class, pre-empting the next eruption of ‘ohms.’ Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
6. Try not to laugh at the names of poses
Because I did. And I was laughing alone. Baby partridge and sexy cat-cow are among the most notably hilarious. But downward-facing dog and happy baby are pretty funny, too. I’d recommend getting your giggles out before you hit the mat. Sweaty snorts of laughter don’t invite good karma.
7. Take advantage of start-up deals
For the broke yogi out there, most yoga studios offer amazing start-up deals to lure you into their sweaty, sauna-like goodness (or, in other words, the excessively expensive direct debit memberships that follow). Who cares. If you can go to yoga five times a week for $10, it’s worth it. Plus, deals like this give you time to work out who the best, worst (and cutest) teachers are. Try before you buy.
8. There’s this awesome thing at the end of every hot yoga class called Savasana
This is (mostly) why I meet the mat every week without fail. ‘Savasana’ is the part at the end of the class where you get to sleep for five minutes and contemplate what you’re going to eat for the rest of the day. In hot yoga classes, it’s kind of like lying in a bed of your own sweat. But like me, I guarantee you’ll learn to embrace it. Saaaaaaavaaasana, Mmmhmmm.
9. Don’t plan to hit up brunch directly after class
Because a) you will be looking (and smelling) like a wet dog that’s rolled in tea-tree. And b) you’ll be feeling so exhausted you won’t be able to fathom tackling the one-hour queue that is waiting for mint and pomegranate thrice smashed avo with a side of maple-glazed, smoked kaiser bacon. (Trust me, I know). Allow yourself time to have a long shower. And maybe pop a coconut water, wheatgrass shot or bottle of Kombucha before attempting any other task. One thing yoga’s taught me is that nourishing your mind and body outside class is just as important as making it to the mat.