During the Summer, practicing yoga in an already hot and humid room can make breathing unbearable — especially when the guy next to you forgot his deodorant. If you're not used to practicing in high temps, then you'll need to take these precautions to get through a class without passing out.
- Before class: Take a shower and twirl your wet hair up in a bun. Eating cooling foods, such as salads and fruit, can also help.
- What to wear: Skip the cotton and wear yoga clothes made of lightweight, breathable material designed to wick moisture away from the skin. You'd think sporting less clothes, like spandex shorts and a sports bra, would be the perfect outfit for a sweaty practice, but you may want material to cover your body. Slip on your regular tank top, but wear leggings on the bottom that cover your calves. Loose shorts or pants tend to trap heat, so make sure they're skintight. Pants or capris won't make you feel that much hotter than shorts, and they'll help absorb your perspiration, keeping puddles of sweat off your mat.
- How to hydrate: Make sure to drink water throughout the day to prevent dehydration during class. Also, bring an insulated water bottle with ice water with you; be sure to sip your chilled water every 15 minutes or so to cool yourself down and prevent overheating.
- How to handle your slip-and-slide mat: Some mats become dangerously slick when wet. When it's really hot and humid, sweat may pour off your body like a leaky faucet, so invest in a rug or mat towel. It'll absorb dripping perspiration and offer a stable surface you can grip without slipping. Don't forget to bring along a hand towel to wipe sweat off your face and arms.
- Classes to avoid: You might want to save the really hot types of yoga like Bikram and Ashtanga for days when the humidity and temperature levels aren't so high. Our bodies aren't used to exercising in such hot, thick air, so give other styles a try that aren't as focused on heat, such as Iyengar, Kripalu, Jivamukti, or some Vinyasa classes.
- How to prevent injury: Heat helps warm up our muscles, so keep this in mind when practicing. Your sweaty, open body might surprise you when previously you struggled to do splits, and all of a sudden you find yourself parallel to the floor. Welcome your more flexible body during a sweaty yoga class, but don't go so deep into poses that you end up with a pulled muscle.
- How to keep cool during class: Do less-intense modifications of postures since heat tends to zap your energy or just sit cross-legged on your mat, close your eyes, and do Sitali, the cooling breath. Try it: curl your tongue like a hot dog bun, and take deep breaths through your mouth and exhale out your nose. If that doesn't help and you're feeling overheated, go to the bathroom to splash some cold water on your face and hair. The moment you start feeling dizzy, nauseous, or lightheaded, stop practicing ASAP. These are signs of heat exhaustion and dehydration.
- When it's too hot: If it seems nuts to practice yoga inside because it's a high of 101 with humidity levels at 90 percent, then give a paddleboard yoga class a try. Since balancing on a board is so challenging, you may end up doing the doggie paddle more than Downward Facing Dog, but at least you'll stay cool!