Yoga is commonly offered at fitness clubs and specialty studios. Hot Yoga, a specific type of yoga practice, has become increasingly popular over the past decade as studios are opening up across the country at a rapid pace. This edition is a follow up to “Ask the Expert – Hot Yoga Basics”. The questions for our resident expert are directed towards the needs and concerns of the first time Hot Yoga student.
Lisa Sullivan, Utah Regional Team Director for CorePower Yoga, has been a student of the Hot Yoga practice since 2004. As a Hot Yoga Teacher Trainer for CorePower Yoga since 2006, and assuming a leadership role at the new CorePower Yoga Highlands location in Salt Lake City, she brings a great deal of knowledge and expertise to today’s topic.
How should a student prepare for their very first Hot Yoga class?
LS: Attending your first Hot Yoga class can be intimidating. If you are new to Hot Yoga, I suggest the following:
- Come to class well hydrated.
- Bring a mat, water and a towel.
- Have an open mind.
- Don’t be afraid to take a break!
What is the proper dress for a Hot Yoga class?
LS: The room will be heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius) so you will want to wear clothes that you will remain fairly comfortable in throughout the 90 minute class (i.e. not to hot, not too sweaty and not too revealing). Sleeveless yoga/athletic wear is suggested (but is not mandatory). Shorts are suggested as pants get too hot and too sweaty.
What investment would someone make before starting Hot Yoga (i.e. mat, towel, water bottle, etc.)?
LS: Before making any type of investment, try a Hot Yoga class (or a trial week) first. Most studios have mats available that you can rent on a class-by-class basis. If you decide you want to continue with the Hot Yoga practice there are three items to consider purchasing:
- Water bottle – A water bottle is a good investment if you are participating in any physical activity. Disposable bottles of water simply hold water. More sophisticated water bottles can hold significantly larger amounts of fluids, can insulate the beverages to keep them cool (even though the room is hot) and some may even have filtering capabilities.
- Yoga mat – Mats can range in price from $25 to $100 . Speak with an instructor to find out what mat will be best for your specific needs. Higher priced mats usually have better durability, better slip resistance, more support (i.e. firmness or thickness) and may be produced using natural materials.
- Towel – You don’t necessarily need a yoga towel to do Hot Yoga. You can start off using a regular beach towel (which tends to soak up a lot of sweat and moisture during the workout). Many Hot Yoga students invest in a yoga towel which is designed to fit on the mat, have better grip and not hold too much moisture.
Is it mandatory to have yoga experience before trying Hot Yoga?
LS: Hot Yoga is for any level of practitioner. Depending on the practitioner, Hot Yoga can range from a very healing practice to a very challenging activity for the participant. The goal is to do the best you can (without pain or discomfort). Most instructors will help students find a version of each pose that is right for each student (what their body is ready for).
What are the 26 Hot Yoga postures and how does each benefit the practitioner?
- Standing Deep Breathing (Pranayama) – Expands the lungs to their full capacity, and increases circulation to the whole body
- Half-Moon Pose with Hands-to-Feet Pose (Ardha-Chandrasana with Padahastasana) – Improves circulation in the legs and to the brain and increases the flexibility of the spine, sciatic nerves and most of the tendons and ligaments of the legs
- Awkward Pose (Utkatasana) – Increases hip joint flexibility, strengthens and firms upper arms and all muscles of thighs, calves and hips, and increases circulation in the knee, toe and ankle joints
- Eagle Pose (Garudasana) – Improves flexibility of all 12 major joints of the body and strengthens and firms legs, arms, and abdomen
- Standing Head-to-Knee Pose (Dandayamana-Janushirasana) – Develops concentration, determination and patience, improves flexibility of the sciatic nerve, and strengthens and firms abdomen, thighs, legs, upper body and arms
- Standing Bow Pulling Pose (Dandayamana-Dhanurasana) – Improves the flexibility and strength of the lower spine and most of the body’s muscles, stimulates the heart and lungs (cardiovascular), and flushes out kidneys helping to eliminate toxins
- Balancing Stick Pose (Tuladandasana) – Strengthens the heart muscle and improves circulation, increases lung capacity, and increases the flexibility of the spine, hip, and shoulder joints
- Standing Separate Leg Stretching Pose (Dandayamana-Bibhaktapada Paschimotthanasana) – Brings blood to the brain, stretches and strengthens the sciatic nerves and tendons of the legs, and increases flexibility of the pelvis, ankles, hip joints and last 5 vertebrae of spine
- Triangle Pose (Trikonasana) – Improves every muscle, joint, tendon and internal organs, helps correct spinal misalignment, and increases strength and flexibility of the hip joint and of the muscles of the side of the torso
- Standing Separate Leg Head-to-Knee Pose (Dandayamana-Bibhaktapada Janushirasana) – Increases blood circulation to legs and brain (helping with some types of headaches) and massages thyroid gland and internal organs
- Tree Pose (Tadasana) – Improves posture and balance, improves circulatory disorders, and increases flexibility of ankles, knees, and hip joints
- Toe Stand Pose (Padangustasana) – Develops balance and patience, helps to alleviate gout and rheumatism of the knees, ankles and feet, and strengthens stomach muscles, weak joints, and feet
- Corpse Pose (Savasana) – Returns circulation to normal and helps to reduce hypertension, nervousness, anxiety, and irritability
- Wind-Removing Pose (Pavanamuktasana) – Massages the colon, helps to relieve/prevent constipation and irritable bowel syndrome, improves flexibility of the hip joints, and relieves lower back pain
- Sit–Up – Strengthens and firms the abdomen, increases flexibility of the spine, hamstrings, and sciatic nerve, and releases heat
- Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana) – Relieves back pain and increases spinal strength (specifically low back) and flexibility
- Locust Pose (Salabhasana) – Relieves back pain, increases spinal strength (specifically upper back) and flexibility, and improves flexibility of hip and shoulder joints
- Full Locust Pose (Poorna-Salabhasana) – Relieves back pain, increases spinal strength (specifically mid back) and flexibility, and improves flexibility of hip and shoulder joints
- Floor Bow Pose (Dhanurasana) – Relieves back pain, increases (total) spinal strength and flexibility, improves digestion, and improves flexibility of hip and shoulder joints
- Fixed Firm Pose (Supta Vajrasana) – Strengthens and improves flexibility of the lower spine, knees, and ankles
- Half-Tortoise Pose (Ardha-Kurmasana) – Provides relaxation and rejuvenation, stretches the lower part of the lungs (increasing blood circulation to the brain), and massages heart, lungs, and coronary arteries
- Camel Pose (Ustrasana) – Stretches abdominal organs as well as throat, thyroid gland and parathyroid, stimulates the nervous system, and opens the rib cage to allow for maximum expansion of the lungs
- Rabbit Pose (Sasangasana) – Maximum stretch of the spine allowing nervous system to receive proper nutrition, maintains mobility and elasticity of spine, and nurtures the nervous system
- Separate Leg Stretching with Seated Forward Bend Pose (Janushirasana with Paschimotthanasana) – Improves the flexibility of the back of the legs, sciatic nerves, ankles and hip joints
- Spine Twisting Pose (Ardha-Matsyendrasana) – Increases circulation and nutrition to spinal nerves, veins, and tissues, improves spinal elasticity and flexibility, and improves digestion
- Blowing in Firm Pose (Kapalbhati in Vajrasana) – Increases circulation, removes toxins, and re-energizes the body
What should someone look for when finding a Hot Yoga studio?
LS: There are three things to look for when choosing a Hot Yoga studio:
- Cleanliness – Well managed Hot Yoga studios are very clean (i.e. hardwood or bamboo floors, NO unsanitary carpet, mirrors are wiped down and clear, and the air is fresh) and the layout is open and easy to navigate.
- Certification – Most studios will audition instructors before they allow them to teach. Regardless, read the instructor biographies provided to find the one you believe is the best qualified to teach a class tailored to your needs. As a rule, instructors who have been actively teaching for longer tend to be better than those with only limited experience.
- Overall “vibe” – A yoga studio should provide a sense of welcoming and acceptance. You already have an expectation of what a yoga studio should be. Find a yoga studio that matches your expectations (i.e. friendly, welcoming, supportive, not judgmental, etc.). Don’t compromise.
Ask the Expert – Questions, Comments or Suggestions?
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