I adopted hot yoga as a regular practice of my wellness routine about six years ago. It wasn’t an easy transition. In fact, I was quite resistant at first. It felt suffocating to be in such a hot and humid room, and I was unamused by the slow progression of the class. Instead, I preferred that my self-care activities relied on fast-paced HIIT classes so that the blasting pop music could drown out my thoughts.
I’m here to tell you why I decided to continue practicing hot yoga and how it’s boosted my mental and physical health over the years to encourage you to kickstart your own wellness routine that includes hot yoga.
The benefits of hot yoga
At around 100 degrees Fahrenheit, regularly practicing hot yoga can make you sweat out all the toxins and make you feel revived. But that’s not all — yoga has many other proven benefits on your mind and body, such as:
- Promoting flexibility
- Improving strength
- Helping you burn calories
- Easing stress and anxiety
- Guiding you toward seeking mindfulness
- Bringing you back to the present moment
Why stick with hot yoga?
After three classes where I made a promise to myself to surrender to the practice without judgment, I began to feel its physical benefits. Yes, the room was still uncomfortably hot, and frankly, that never went away. But eventually, I became more accustomed to it and no longer focused on the heat.
When I noticed heavy drops of sweat fall off of my face and onto my yoga mat, it felt almost freeing — as if I were releasing all of the toxins and negative energy inside of me (similar to how my journaling habit takes my thoughts out of my head and onto paper).
Each time I started focusing on my thoughts during class, I reminded myself to return to my breath. Inhale, exhale; inhale, exhale. Saying these simple words repeatedly in my head shifted my attention away from my worries and back to the present moment.
As I struggled to balance in Crow Pose, Half Moon, or Warrior II, I also noticed that my thoughts began to dwindle as I concentrated on the difficulty of the pose and improving my strength and flexibility instead.
Find your zen in a heated room
Hot yoga is different from other workouts. It allows you to feel a sense of community and closeness to those around you. The instructor guides you through the practice, helping you to set an intention at the beginning of class and reminding you to prioritize mindfulness along the way. You can also hear the breathwork of the other yogis sitting next to you, fostering a sense of connection and collectiveness. Hot yoga isn’t just a physical workout for your body but a modality to mental clarity as well.
At the end of each class, I often notice feeling lighter as I lay on my back in Shavasana (the final resting pose). My body feels strong, and it seems as though a weight has been lifted off my shoulders and from my mind. My practice allows me to escape into a fantasy world where my thoughts are muted, and the external factors of reality don’t matter for the time being.
If you’ve been itching to try hot yoga but aren’t sure you’ll like it, remember that you don’t have to practice every day to reap the full benefits. Start small until you get the hang of it, and heed my warning — you’ll become obsessed with it eventually.
Hot yoga essentials
If I’ve encouraged you to try just one class, then my work here is done. Sign up at the closest hot yoga studio near you, and make sure to bring the following:
- Yoga mat
- Hand towel
- Mat towel (optional)
- Water bottle
- Tight, comfortable exercise clothing
- An open mind!
Nothing comes easy
Write down how you feel before and after class to take note of any changes you notice in your mind and body. Remember that your first class might be a struggle, but the benefits can be astounding if you stick with it. Plus, you can look forward to an ice-cold shower following your practice for even more health-boosting benefits.