If you’ve been thinking about trying hot yoga, or Bikram yoga as the original form is called, but are feeling a bit intimidated, you’re not alone. I remember feeling apprehensive before my first class, especially since one end of the room was a wall of mirrors. Everyone looked incredibly bendy, but I soon realised that bendy-ness was a condition seriously aided by the warmth in the room!
I signed up for a 30-day class pass and ended up going to 26 out of the 30 days. Yes, hot yoga is definitely one of those love it or hate it things, and if you love it you simply can’t get enough. At the end of the 30 days, I felt stronger, slimmer, cleaner, lighter and pumped with energy.
What is hot yoga?
Traditionally performed in a room heated to around 40 C, with a humidity of 40%, hot yoga is a vigorous sequence of exercises performed for 90 minutes. That’s the Bikram method, as developed by Indian yogi Bikram Choudhury, whose proponents teach 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises per class at a strict temperature level. But as with many things, hot yoga has adapted and been taken in different directions by different teachers. Now, any yoga performed in a heated room may be called “hot yoga”.
Whatever kind of yoga you do in the hot room, prepare to sweat! It’s a key part of hot yoga, and the reason why a lot of its fans love it so much. Proponents argue that one of the benefits of hot yoga is flushing out toxins and feeling great afterwards. Other benefits touted include increased flexibility. Yoga Haven in Brighton describes the benefits as follows:
“Using heat ensures that participants will sweat, which helps to flush toxins from their system whilst internal organs and glands are gently massaged. This hot yoga class is designed to increase the heart rate, which prepares the cardiovascular system for more intense activity, it increases blood flow through active muscles, increases metabolic rate, increases speed of nerve impulses which facilitates more subtle awareness of body movements whilst cleansing and rejuvenating the entire system.”
There are also several contraindications to practising hot yoga, including pregnancy and heart conditions. It’s best to check with your doctor before trying it, and letting your teacher know before class about any health conditions.
So I’m going to sweat…what should I wear?
As little as possible! No, really, the more you get in to hot yoga, the more you’ll want to shrink your yoga wardrobe to the lightest and smallest clothing. What you’ll definitely NOT want is layers. Even if you feel self-conscious about your body in front of the mirrors, the heat soon helps you see sense! When you sweat you’ll want to know that the fabric against your skin is effective at cooling you down, but is also 100% natural. You definitely won’t want chemicals leaching against your precious skin when you’re super hot.
Close-fitting and comfortable
Clothes that flap around your body are out. Close-fitting clothes are the way to go. Short shorts and cropped tops are the best, but if you’re not quite ready to bare your midriff, a tight-fitting vest is also good. Tight seams are likely to aggravate and you’ll want the feel of your clothing to be soft and comfy against the skin as you’ll be moving vigorously.
Our Gossypium yoga shorts are great for lots of poses – with their reinforced gusset you can rest assured that you can stretch to the absolute max without the risk of losing your dignity! They also have a great smoothing waist band/tummy panel that looks great and doesn’t cut in at the waist.
As for a cropped vest, you’ll love our super soft and comfy organic cotton vest top. No tight seams, and nothing that rubs against the skin, but a range of gorgeous colours and all natural fabric makes it a firm favourite.
Men will want to opt for cool, comfy and natural clothing too and our men's cropped harem pants are perfect - they don't move up and down and have a fully adjustable drawstring waistband.
What about after class?
There’s no doubt you’ll be feeling great after you’ve finished the class especially if you push through and surprise yourself with your inner strength. A shower will wash off any lingering toxins and then you’ll want to make sure you keep your body at an even temperature. Have a hoodie or a sweatshirt ready for post-class hanging out, and some light and comfy trousers. You’ll be bouncing home with a great post-yoga glow!