Friday, September 7, 2012

My Sweat Is Welcome Here: Hot Yoga

Hot yoga is by far one of the best forms of exercise and therapy I have been introduced to. You sweat. You sweat a lot. Everyone is sweating. The room is heated between 90-110 degrees and often humidity is added.

Imagine that. A room full of sweaty people. I'm starting to sweat more just thinking about it. A place where you are encouraged to sweat. A place where people find it weird if you're not soaking in sweat. I hope you are scouring Yelp for the closest hot yoga studio right now.

Walking LA cliche. 

Foreign Territory
Trying anything new as a sweater is hard. You don't know how to prepare often. How should I accommodate for my sweating? I avoided trying many things out of fear. If you're fearful like me I encourage you, beg you, to muster up a little will power to check it out. I have not met a single yoga studio that was not thrilled to see a new face. Knowing yoga especially hot yoga is new to many instructors try to create a welcoming atmosphere.

Three studios I love in Southern California: Hot 8 Yoga, Ra Yoga, and Core Power. Core Power is a chain with locations across the US. 

Beads of sweat are missing from this photo. 

As mentioned previously, I had surgery to stop palmar sweating. My body now sweats much much more. I find most workout clothes can cover this up. Dry fit is my new best friend. When I come out of class I can literally ring sweat out of my clothes. If you've had the surgery I recommend capris that come past the knee as this will keep that annoying knee sweat in check. Yes, the knees sweat like crazy after you've had the surgery. For men who have had this surgery this may be one set back but I've done it in shorts and survived.

Hot yoga is an invigorating workout but it's also a place where I find calm. I don't have to think twice about my sweating. Instructors will sometimes incorporate mantras or inspiration.  In class instructors will often repeat "Go to your edge" or "Let your ego go." We're reminded that this our yoga practice, not our neighbors and we should treat it as such. Who cares if you're sweating more than your neighbor respect and honor your body. At the end of each class we end with our hands to our hearts and we say "Namaste." We are thanking the instructor and everyone in the room for taking the journey together.

I've truly learned more about myself and it has helped promote a healthier lifestyle.

How to Prepare
Most hot yoga studios will post on their website what to expect.
  • Don't eat two hours prior (I've done it and it ain't cute). Please be sure to eat sensibly prior throughout the day though. You need fuel to burn!
  • Bring a yoga mat if you have one, if you don't you can often rent one.
  • Bring a large towel to cover your mat. I usually bring a beach towel. Some studios will provide you with a towel (if they look small don't hesitate to ask for two!) This goes for EVERYONE not just us sweaters. 
  • Bring a small towel to wipe your face and sometimes to use for certain poses. 
  • Bring a very cold bottle of water.
  • Arrive 15 minutes early to give yourself time to sign up and get acquainted. 
  • Bring an open attitude. No one is judging you here.

Yoga Practice Not Yoga Perfect
If you're new to yoga pick out a spot in the back row. Everyone starts out here. You learn the language of yoga over time. You never perfect poses either. In yoga we practice to explore new places in a posture. It's awesome because you never feel like a failure. Each class feels different from the next. One day I may be kicking ass at my standing bow and the next I'm falling over every two seconds.

One day in class I was so emotionally drained. I mostly sat through the entire class. The instructor checked in with me very kindly to see how I was doing. "Are you OK? I love that you're here doing what you can." I look at her, nodded yes and immediately started to cry. She smiled and let me be. It was an incredible emotional release and I hardly did anything in class. My point is don't fret if you don't know what you're doing or just can't keep up with everyone else.

Side Bar Note
One style of yoga I have not quite been able to get on board with is Bikram. Bikram is a series of 26 postures that feels wonderful. I do enjoy the series of postures but have found the instructors to be less than friendly and the studios quite stinky. Bikram studios often have carpet flooring which doesn't fair well with constant sweat abuse. This may not be for every Bikram studio. Yelp is your friend.

Can't Find Hot Yoga?
If you can't find hot yoga but are interested in trying yoga there are ways to beat the sweaty hands and feet. Yogi toes (they're towel for the yoga mat) and Yogi Socks (they are glorified toe socks for yoga). I've used both and love them.