The First Class is a series of posts where I discuss what to bring, what to wear and what to expect when you go to class. While this is aimed mostly at newbies, this is certainly applicable for people looking for tips on how to improve their yoga experience.
As with any physical exercise, yoga is best practiced with proper hydration, namely before and after class. If you’re planning to attend a class with some heat (internal or external), make sure to drink plenty of water beforehand in preparation for all the sweating you’ll be doing.
Proper hydration throughout the day and maybe just a glass of water before you head to class should be plenty. No need to guzzle a gallon RIGHT before class or you’ll end up feeling like your stomach is sloshing around, especially in downward dog or any inversion. On that note, you may also want to empty your bladder before class. Ya know, for comfort.
After a vigorous practice, load up on water to keep your muscles from feeling too sore. Even better, enjoy a cup of hot tea. Yes, even when you’re doing ashtanga on a hot Texas summer day! In traditional Chinese medicine, hot liquids help with digestion, fatigue, bloating and a number of other health ailments. You might as well keep burning those calories after class is done.
But what about during practice?
A class like Bikram takes breaks in between each pose where you lie in savasana before starting the next pose (that’s how it’s been explained to me by Bikram yogis). Because the room is heated to 105 degrees, use those breaks to drink a little water to ensure you don’t overheat and dehydrate.
For styles like ashtanga and vinyasa that work on building internal heat, you actually want to hold off on water. While you might be sweating buckets, the room is usually only set to about 80 degrees. The rest of that heat is all yours! Take a sip here and there in the beginning if your mouth is feeling dry or you need to rest in child’s pose to catch your breath. But don’t slurp it down or you’ll undo the internal heat you’ve just built.
You’ll find over time that your body becomes more efficient in keeping cool and regulating your temperature, so your internal heat doesn’t get cranked up too high too fast. The sweat and the heat become more manageable, and you won’t feel the need to reach for that water bottle after every vinyasa.
Whether you rehydrate during class or wait until after, just make sure to replenish all that lost water and continue flushing out toxins. A hot shower afterward will feel extremely relaxing afterward as well. Enjoy all the benefits of that soothing heat!