Hot yoga is not an easy practice, and you may already have noticed that when you come into the hot room and you haven’t eaten properly, slept enough or drank enough water, then the class will feel a lot harder. Here are a few easy steps that you can follow, to make sure that you look after yourself outside the yoga room too.
- Water. Our bodies are made up from it, we all need to drink it, and you already know it! But what you might not know, is that your body can only take up so much water every hour. So it’s important to try and drink water throughout the entire day. What happens if you forget? No so much really, try and drink a couple of glasses when you remember. But avoid chugging down a whole litre in one go an hour before class. You will inevitably end up needing the toilet half-way through class (don’t worry, we’ll let you!) but by now you probably know that leaving the yoga room is a bad idea, the sudden temperature shifts will just make the rest of the class feel harder.
- Electrolytes. If you practice three classes per week or more, or if you are a Big Sweater, then you may need to add electrolytes to your hydration intake. Electrolytes are salts and minerals that occur naturally in your bodily fluids, but if you sweat a lot your body could become depleted of them, which can make you feel weak and faint and can lead to muscle cramps and headaches. You can add electrolyte drops to the water you take into class, you only need a few drops to compensate for a whole class of sweating.
- Coconut water. A great source of naturally occurring electrolytes, and it tastes amazing when you drink it after class! Did you know that the consistency of coconut water is so similar to human bodily fluids that during World War II, when medical staff in the pacific islands ran out of blood plasma, they used coconut water instead? And it worked!
Taking the time to practice yoga regularly probably means you are already making some big changes to your daily routine. Making time to practice can take a big chunk of time out of your day. You need to make sure your body gets some good nutrition, but this is probably not the best time to make any drastic or complicated changes to how you eat. Keep it simple. The key word is sustainability. If you are making changes to how you eat, then make sure that you can manage the amount of time and effort you have to put in to achieve them.
- Whole foods vs. processed. We all know that eating whole foods, ie buying unprocessed ingredients and cooking your own food from scratch will give you the best nutritional value. But it can also be very time consuming. A good trick is to just go for the “Best Option Available”. This could mean cooking as much of your own foods as you have time for, perhaps making big batches for freezing, and fixing it up with Best Option ready-made foods. There are many good ready-made options available, try to choose ones that have a good portion of vegetables, or just add a small salad with plenty of green leaves (great for both protein and iron!).
- Plant based vs. omnivore. It is a myth that everyone who is really into yoga is a vegan; we’re not! Going plant-based is a personal choice, and it really has nothing to do with your yoga practice. That said, when you have been practicing for a while, trying a plant-based diet can be interesting. You will most likely find that your body will respond immediately, and you will see a difference in your flexibility and mobility when practicing postures. But again sustainability is key, so keep it simple.
- Cleansing and fasting. Doing a juice cleanse or practicing intermittent fasting can be really beneficial on many levels. But if you are new to hot yoga then this might not be the right time to try any new and drastic fasting regimes. Practicing a 90 minute Bikram class on an empty stomach can be totally fine and might even take your practice to a new level when you have been doing this yoga for a while, but if you are still on your 30 Day Intro then it is probably best to wait until you are fully acclimatised to the heat and the postures.
- Cravings. Like Oscar Wilde said: “The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it.” Cravings are normal, again go for the “Best Option Available” approach. There are many healthy-but-satisfying snacks, sweets and desserts available. Look for anything that says “raw” and you can be sure that it will have no processed sugar, artificial sweeteners or other unhealthy additives in it. It is also possible that if you are new to hot yoga, you have already noticed how your cravings have changed. Many people notice that practicing hot yoga will make them crave healthy things, and that they start eating healthier not because they make themselves do it, but because now, they want to!