In October of 2015, I opened YO BK, a boutique studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. We specialize in Bikram Yoga, the original hot yoga, and Inferno Hot Pilates, a HIIT class that uses Pilates principles, a disco ball and energetic music. Believe it or not, our classes are just as busy in the summertime as in the winter.
Practicing hot yoga and Pilates when it is already hot outside offers a host of benefits that are not available in the winter. Hot classes help you acclimate to the heat by teaching your body to cool itself effectively and efficiently through sweat. They arm you with focus, concentration and breath to cope with the heat. Your body will already be nice and warm when you start class, and you will experience more flexibility to go deeper into your practice.
How to take a hot yoga class in the summer
That said, it’s important to take care of yourself during the summer months so you feel rejuvenated—not beat up—by the hot room. Here are my best tips for keeping your cool in the heat:
This is a no-brainer! The good news is, a hot practice in the summer reminds you to drink more water—at least 3-4 liters of water per day. It takes the body almost an hour to hydrate, so come to class well hydrated or you will be playing catch up. If you’re taking a morning class, be sure to drink lots of water the night before. Invest in an insulated water bottle to keep your water cold in the hot room.
Remember that your body sweats out more than just water. We lose vitamins and minerals in greater amounts in the summertime, namely sodium, potassium and magnesium. My favorite electrolyte supplement is Ultima Replenisher, a delicious, sugar-free powder that can be added to water or taken on its own. You can buy Emergen-C at the pharmacy or do it the natural way: add honey, lemon juice and a pinch of sea salt to your water. Raw coconut water is also a great source of potassium.
Warmer weather often translates into a lighter appetite, which means you’re less inclined polish off a big bowl of chili right before class. This can take your practice to a new level by relieving you of that “full” feeling and letting you go much deeper into the postures. Stick to fruit, veggies, nuts and protein, and eat hydrating foods like cucumber and watermelon. To avoid nausea, eat your last meal no fewer than three hours before class.
Wear light, breathable clothing that lets you sweat and move. Cotton gets heavy, so stick with Lycra. My favorite brands are Toda Boa and Onzie. It’s also a good idea to bring a breezy sundress for after class. There are few things more humiliating than putting on skinny jeans in a busy changing room when you can’t stop sweating!
Let it flow
Resist the urge to wipe your sweat. Wiping can be a distraction to you and the people around you and will not stop the sweat from coming. Sweat is your body’s natural cooling mechanism. Let it flow and focus on your practice. Also, make sure to remove your makeup before class. I’ve tried every waterproof mascara under the sun and none of them make the cut! A clean face is better for your pores as you sweat.
Make up your mind
The summer heat can make you feel stifled and sluggish. Bikram yoga and Inferno Hot Pilates fill your tank with energy by increasing your oxygen intake and balancing the various systems of the body. The hardest part of a practice is getting there, so do your body (and mind) some good and show up for class!
Tune into yourself and respect your boundaries. Feelings of nausea and dizziness can happen when you’re dehydrated, so take rests as you need to and jump back in when you’re ready.
Get friendly and have fun
An exercise buddy keeps you accountable, and you’ll have someone to drink rose with after class. True story: I’m still friends with the woman who brought me to my first Bikram yoga class 13 years ago! Hot yoga and Pilates improve your strength, stamina and balance for fun summertime activities. These amazing workouts burn a plethora of calories and tone your body in all the right places.