10 Things They Don’t Tell You About Hot Yoga [Funny]

Time for Some Smile Therapy.

I like to think of it as my contribution to the popular Laughter Yoga movement. Here’s a list of 10 things they leave out of the oh-so-enticing, hot-yoga-will-change-your-life brochures.

1. The stink. Your clothes and towels will find it.  After a few hot yoga classes you will notice it.  And it won’t go away on its own.  Fortunately, there is help.  Here is what has worked for me: White vinegar in the rinse cycle does wonders.  You just have to run an extra rinse cycle at the end.  Baking soda added at the beginning of the wash cycle also helps.

2. Drama Queens If you have been to a yoga class before you may have noticed that some people like to vocalize their yogic experience in the moment, usually with moans of pleasure or sighs of release. However, in hot yoga the vocalizations manifest a little differently. The pleasure moans are not unheard of, mind you, but you are more likely to hear load grunts, groans, scoffs, and even some swears as the so-called drama queen curses the sadistic teacher, the unbearable heat, the invasive smells, their own limitations, etc.

3. Emotional Outbursts Sometimes you might be the one making all the noise a la “#2 Drama Queens.” Giggle-fits a.k.a. “the giggles” are fairly common.  On the other end of the spectrum, you have tears. Yes, right in the middle of class, you’ll begin sobbing for no apparent reason. In hot yoga class you are bumped right out of your comfort zone and confronted with yourself, your limitations or perhaps where you are holding on so strongly that when you are unable to control something (the heat, your body, etc.) you are forced to just LET GO.  It can be pretty intense.  Along with the physical release, you also let go of some serious emotional sh*t (as I affectionately refer to my “breakthroughs”).  Fortunately, the yoga room is a safe place to be vulnerable and you are sweaty enough to hide the tears. So, cry (or laugh) it up. It’s good for you.

4. Creatures of Habit Whatever you do, don’t, seriously, don’t EVER mess with the regulars. You can tell these people by their rituals and routine. They arrive extra early to ensure their “spot” in the room and get pretty darned protective of it. If you do have a run in, best way to avoid a all-out brawl in the yoga studio: quietly pick up your mat and move. That’s it.

5. Bodily Function Overload. You are likely to fart or even throw up in class. Yoga postures twist and compress the abdomen and stimulate the digestive organs. It’s kind of the point. So, yes, farts in yoga class happen. They’ve “happened” to us all. So, it is safe to  say that no one will judge you because of a little tootage.  However, if you have the “death farts,” maybe you should consider skipping a class, you know, out of consideration for others. Also, backbends stretch the lining of the stomach and leave you feeling a little queezy (Holy Camel!).  Often the heat and excessive sweating is enough to make you feel nauseous. It is for this reason most yoga studios and teachers recommend that you don’t eat for two hours or so before class. Either that or they don’t want to clean up your “leftovers.” Ew.

6. Over-Sharing You will get up close and personal with complete strangers. Like, in ways that, if it happened outside the sacred space of the yoga room, would induce bodily function overload. Here are some examples: The Sharing of The Sweat No it doesn’t stay neatly within the confines of your own mat and towel. It’s messy, it splashes, and sometimes on the most inconvenient of places (like in your eyes or in your mouth!); The Roaming Strands of Hair When you finally make it down to your mat after a standing series you notice not one, but two hairs stuck to your arm and neither one of them are from your own body; Your Smells Are Telling Whether it is the garlic in the italian food you had for dinner or perhaps you had tee-many-martoonis last night, the sweat, gives you away every time.

7. T.M.I.! Along the same lines as #6 … You might get an eyeful, i.e. wardrobe malfunction.  In other words you’ll gain MUCH more information about somebody than you want to in this particular, sweaty, bendy context. To avoid wardrobe malfunction: ladies, wear clothes that fit and cover all the right places and guys, please wear fitted shorts, or at the very least, wear skivvies under those swim trunks. Which leads me to …

8. Modesty, Schmodesty You really won’t care that you are practically naked in a room full of strangers/mixed company/acquaintances, also mostly naked. Sheesh, I mean isn’t it enough that you are there – and willingly so?

9. It’s Not The Most Ideal Singles Hang Out Seriously. You will look like crap immediately after – sweaty, flushed, splotchy. And don’t forget about the aforementioned bodily function overload and over-sharing.  It can be a bit much for even the most desperately seeking individual.

10. You will become adept at strategizing as you will find yourself plotting your escape at certain points in class. Okay, after this pose I will roll up my mat, navigate through a weave of sweaty people to the back of the room and tiptoeing quietly, I will scale the back wall until I make it to the door, at which point I will stealthfully open the door and make my way out to cool fresh air FREEDOM!!!

Mostly, I want to tell you that you won’t always like hot yoga and it will probably push your boundaries a little (okay – a LOT). I personally enjoy being bumped out of my comfy zone. I find that is when I really learn something about myself.

Having a sense of humor is important when diving head-on into personal transformation like we do in hot yoga. It is also helpful to know that you are not alone. So, please share your stories and comments below!

By the way, I highly recommend smiling in class, as much as possible.

Love,

Lindsay

 

For some added smiles, here is Nina Paley’s comic “Why I Quit My Yoga Class”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

warriors

What is Hot Yoga and How Is It Different from Other Yoga Styles?

I am simply amazed at the popularity of yoga these days.

With so many styles and talented teachers out there, it is relatively easy to find a style that is right for you, but what is "Hot Yoga" exactly?  A common misconception is that Hot Yoga is synonymous with Bikram Yoga.  While Bikram Yoga is a type of Hot Yoga, there is so much more to this wonderful lineage from Calcutta.  Here is  a brief description of Hot Yoga, its origin and evolution.

I like to think of Hot Yoga as a noun, not simply an adjective describing any style of yoga practiced in a heated room.  It has a very distinct lineage which incorporates alignment principles and subtle variations to the ancient practice of yoga asanas (yoga postures) that differ from other styles of yoga.  These innovations help increase a posture’s efficiency to be more rehabilitative and fitness oriented.

Hot Yoga is a branch of Hatha Yoga (the physical form of yoga).  The goal of Hatha Yoga, or “Forceful Yoga,” is to purify and remove blockages in the body and the mind in order to free oneself from limitations and live a fuller, richer life.

Two basic branches of Hatha Yoga today:

Yoga of Krishnamacharya – Tirumalai Krishnamacharya is referred to as "the father of modern yoga”  and credited as the yogi who brought yoga into the mainstream.  This is probably the most common branch of yoga with offshoots such as Iyengar Yoga, developed by B.K.S. Iyengar, and the Ashtanga Yoga discipline of Pattabhi Jois.

Hot Yoga of Bishnu Ghosh – Bishnu Ghosh was introduced to the healing benefits of Hatha Yoga by his brother Paramahansa Yogananda (author of Autobiography of a Yogi).  He is credited with then bringing what he learned to the common people, that is, people other than sages and holy men like Yogananda.  A Pioneer in the study of yoga asana, Bishnu Ghosh founded Ghosh's Yoga College in 1923 and helped numerous people heal their various ailments.  His student,  Bikram Choudhury, founder of Bikram Yoga, then brought this wonderful healing modality to the United States.

Styles of Hot Yoga

Here are four popular styles from the Hot Yoga lineage:

Bikram Yoga

Bikram Choudhury, as I mentioned, is a direct student of Bishnu Gosh and responsible for bringing Hot Yoga to the United States.  Bikram shattered his knee in an accident and with the aid of his teacher, he embarked on a vigorous yoga rehabilitation that led him to design his own style of yoga known as Bikram Yoga.  Bikram's Beginning Yoga Class is a series of twenty-six postures and two pranayama breathing exercises performed in a specific order, two sets of each, and in a roomed heated to 105 degrees or greater.  It is designed to be rehabilitative, restoring all systems of the body to healthy working order.

Barkan Method Hot Yoga

Created by Jimmy Barkan, The Barkan Method is built on the teachings and principles of Bikram Choudhury and Bishnu Ghosh, but also incorporates postures from other styles of yoga.  Jimmy, who was once given the title of Bikram’s Senior Most Teacher, found that “even though consistency is important to measure results, daily variations are necessary to challenge, excite and help students become unlimited in their practice.”  Jimmy has also developed a Hot Vinyasa (series of postures and movement coordinated with the breath) sequence based on Hot Yoga postures and philosophies.  The Barkan Method has a large network of teachers and studios all over the world.

Moksha Yoga

Founded by Ted Grand and Jessica Robertson, Moksha Yoga is based in Toronto with locations and affiliated studios worldwide.  It is a fundamental sequence of postures practiced in a heated room.  While it incorporates principles of Hot Yoga, Moksha Yoga also integrates the opinions of a wide range of experts and peers in the yoga community.  True to Hatha Yoga tradition, the series works to stretch and strengthen muscles while detoxifying the body and calming the mind.

 

CorePower Yoga

Based in Denver with locations throughout the United States, CorePower Yoga is built on the premise that yoga should be accessible to everyone.  CorePwer studios offer classes at varying levels and varying temperatures ranging from 80-100 degrees.  Classes they offer such as Hot Yoga, Hot Power Fusion and CorePower Yoga, combine a heated environment with the flowing style of Vinyasa and a focus on core strengthening.  They also offer Yoga-Pilates and Yoga Sculpt allowing students to find a practice that is truly right for them.

Related reading:

What to Expect at Your First Hot Yoga Class

Hot Yoga: So, Why the Heat Anyway?

Thanks for reading! I'd love to here from you. Please leave a comment below with any thoughts or questions.

Namaste,

Lindsay

Sun Salute

Hot Yoga: So, Why the Heat Anyway?

This is probably the question I am asked most often as a Hot Yoga teacher.

Yes, the room is intentionally heated to about 90-95 degrees and in some studios, even hotter (Bikram studios will be around 105).  While it is true that the heat is not necessary to practice yoga, it is absolutely safe and, in fact, has many benefits.*

Sun Salute

Here are a few examples:

  • The heat warms your muscles which allows for extra flexibility and a deeper release in your body with less chance of injury and improved resolution of injury.
  • Capillaries dilate in the heat. This in conjunction with the specially designed asanas (yoga postures) helps to oxygenate the tissues, muscles, glands and organs more effectively.
  • Improved circulation. The body, as it is trying to regulate a safe body temperature, increases heart rate and volume of blood ejected from the heart with each beat in order to transport heat from the body’s core to the skin surface.  The benefit of this is improved circulation to your extremities.
  • It is great for endurance and willpower. A challenging environment strengthens self control, concentration and determination (if you can do this, you can do anything).
  • Sweating flushes toxins through the skin which, after all, is the body's largest organ of elimination.

All that said, the heat will effect people in varying ways and caution should always be exercised.  The heated room is a tool and not something you should have to survive against.  Always listen to your body and take care of yourself.  Proper hydration is essential before, during, and after class.  As the sweat rate increases in a hot yoga class, body water loss increases, and without adequate fluid replacement, the body’s ability to dissipate heat is compromised.  Electrolyte supplements like Ultima Replenisher are also helpful, especially when beginning a hot yoga practice and acclimatization process.

One final note, I have found that reminding myself of the benefits that the heated room brings during a difficult part of class completely shifts my energy and I am able to push though those layers of self doubt.  It is my hope that this information also helps you in your personal practice.

Here are some related Hot Yoga articles:

What to Expect at Your First Hot Yoga Class

What is Hot Yoga and How is it Different From Other Yoga Styles

Hot Yoga Hydration Tips

Thanks for reading!

Lindsay

 

 

 

 

*Practicing yoga in a heated environment is contraindicated for people with Multiple Sclerosis. Always consult your physician before beginning any exercise regimen.

(ref. "Physiological Concerns while Exercising in the Heat " by Leslie S. Funk www.wellness-design.com )