Why You Should Never Do a Hot Yoga Class | Tampa Bay Hot Yoga
You’ve heard it before. Maybe you were the one making the statement. Maybe these kind of things keep you out of a hot yoga class.
”Hot yoga is dangerous!”
”Hot yoga is so hard you will hurt yourself.”
”Hot yoga scrambles your brain like eggs and you’ll never be the same again.”
Well let me tell you all of those things are mostly untrue if you’re in a supportive and safe studio with teachers who care about your experience. All of those good and important things you will find here at Gaze.
Before I go on, for the sake of transparency, I will admit my implicit bias- I am Gaze founder Wes Bozeman’s wife. For even fuller transparency though I have never been in love with 26 & 2/hot/Bikram style yoga. I have found it to be everything from boring, to too difficult, to the culture of it being annoying A F over the years. I love my husband though, and I have always believed in this yoga even if I did not necessarily believe it was for me. I have practiced since we opened but only occasionally, and only 60 minute classes. I really didn’t believe those 90 minute classes were for me.
I have always been active for the most part in other ways. I love spin classes, dabbled in some powerlifting, and have done a couple triathlons. Moving my body has always been therapeutic and necessary for me but definitely has never come easily. I have been overweight my entire life and seemingly never able to break away from that regardless of my diet or movement levels. During my last pregnancy I was very active and determined to have a healthy pregnancy and birth after experiencing 3 losses between our 2 daughters. Once our youngest was born all of the normal new motherhood things took over and I found myself in a place where I had very little time to myself. I am a midwife and also operate a nonprofit community center that I founded. Being self employed and a mom to 2 means that even with ‘maternity leave’ my work is never done. I tried stroller fitness classes. I tried moving my body in ways my girls could be included. Nothing stuck and nothing was enough. My mental health was waning, my life felt chaotic, and I was struggling to function at the high level I was accustomed to.
Enter a 30 day hot yoga challenge. Selfishly I knew my husband would be supportive because, well, its his shtick. I also knew that I can never deny a good challenge. I like to win. I figured it was worth a shot and it would give me a time out (in?) every day. Logistically, I honestly had no clue how we were going to make it work. Childcare, adjusting our schedules, and making the time felt impossible. Luckily we are surrounded with an amazing community who was happy to step up and make it work!
The first few days were hard being back in the space. The heat, the challenge, getting to know new teachers and their styles. I never wanted to go but I always felt better when I did. After the first week I started to look forward to showing up. I liked catching up with teachers and other students and I selfishly liked seeing the ‘other side’ of my husband’s world in a different way. With my schedule the reality was that all of the classes I would ‘never do’ became necessary for me to get to practice. I had to show up at 6am sometimes and I had to go to 90 minute classes to boot. After the 2nd week I started to realize that not only was I * gasp * enjoying the 90 minute classes I was actually looking forward to them. 60 minute classes started to feel super do-able and sometimes even not enough! I even stopped bringing water into class with me by my last few days! By the end of my 30 days I was trying to figure out how I could make it 60 days!
The whole point of this post though was that I wanted to share with yall some things I learned over these 30 days that I think could really benefit everyone. Especially those of you who feel intimidated by hot yoga, or staring at your body for a whole class in a big mirror, or are turned off by toxic ‘yoga culture’ that is sometimes present in other spaces.
Come hydrated. I cannot stress this enough. We talk about it all the time but trying to hydrate or nourish quickly before class is futile. Your body needs some good stores. Coconut water, electrolyte powders, magnesium supplements, etc… will go a long way in how you feel on the mat and after. Don’t eat any big meal within about an hour of class but do be sure you’ve had something to eat earlier in the day.
Bring a friend! If you feel intimidated about coming whether it be because you don’t know anyone, you don’t know the practice, or you are feeling less than inspired then the good ol’ buddy system works well! A friend can help keep you motivated and you can decompress about class after you both survived. Once I was a few weeks into my challenge I found myself really wanting friends to come who hadn’t practiced before…and a few did! If I could make the time, they could too!
Come as you are. I have never…NEVER been in a fitness (sorry Yogis who hate this term!) space that is as diverse, inclusive, or truly supportive as Gaze. All ages, races, gender expressions, and ability levels can be seen in literally every class. I experienced this week in and week out during my 30 days. Bring your big bod, little bod, fit bod, fluffy bod, hairy legs/pits, perfect pedicures, full yoga princess outfit or dad’s tshirt wearing self to class just.as.you.are.
BEND YOUR KNEE or any other modification that you need! There are lots of ways to make the postures work for you or your body. Don’t be afraid to let the teacher know before class if you have any special circumstances or injuries that could keep you from traditional expressions of postures. Look at other folks in the room for options if it is your first time and don’t be afraid to ask questions after class if there is something that did not feel right or make sense for you.
Just show up. It is so easy to make excuses. We are all busy. We all have crazy commitments and lives and getting to the studio is hard and often inconvenient. The entire battle is just getting there though. Once you are there you will never regret showing up. You will never regret being present. I promise you that you will literally always feel better after class.
Be still. Don’t be Extra. In my years of practicing before this challenge I never knew that stillness was a cornerstone of 26&2. Shocking to all yall die hards reading this, I know! I honestly was probably just not listening or did not care to listen when my husband would yammer on about it. I knew it was important to take a still savasana but I never knew that stillness was basically the whole purpose of the practice. So in postures find your expression where you can be still. In between postures just be still. In savasana you guess it…be S T I L L . For those times you are having a hard time with the heat this especially is so important. This is not a class to showcase your daring yoga skill of extraness. Yall save that for the ‘gram.
Take off your smartwatch. I know you need the points or whatever. “How can my workout exist if it doesn’t in my log?!” I get it. We are data driven people these days. Smartwatches are very distracting in class. Seeing the time is distracting. Seeing incoming calls is distracting. It all serves you in literally 0.0 ways aside from being a huge distraction. Go into the room with nothing but a mat, towel, and water if you need it.
Try all the teachers! I have been so impressed with how everyone teaches their class the same but so different at the same time. I have enjoyed getting to know new teachers, understanding the practice more by their different cues and demos, and just enjoying the different flow of everyone’s individual classes. We all have our faves but it is worth it to explore everyone!
L A Y D O W N. We have all been there. Your heart rate is up. Maybe your vision is tunneling. Its fucking H O T. Your ego is keeping you up so shut that shit down! Let it go! Lay down! Savasana is always available to you. You can sit. You can lay down. DO PLEASE LAY DOWN. I love seeing other students lay down in class. I am giving them a little high five from my spirit every time. When someone lays down it says ‘I respect myself. I respect where I am at TODAY.’ They say it all the time but in class your ‘Only goal is to stay in the room. The postures are all extra’
Be prepared to CHANGE. I am not a spiritual or religious person. (Potentially unpopular opinion alert) I actually find a lot of American yoga culture toxic, highly appropriative, and problematic in a lot of ways. 26&2 here at Gaze though is different. You’ll find that focusing on yourself, focusing your energy, and carving out the space for the practice has the capability to change yourself, your perspective, and maybe even your life. You may make some new friends, learn somethings about yourself, or build community in ways that feel nearly impossible in our current climate.
For me that last one has been the most worth challenging myself in this way. I appreciate my body and how capable it is so much more. My bod has seen some thangs. It has birthed a baby without pain medication at home, climbed some mountains, swam in bodies of water across the world, carried me through so many things. Change has been good for me and I bet it would be for yall too!
Charlie Rae Young, LM, CPM, CLC is a graduate of the Florida School of Traditional Midwifery and Florida Licensed Midwife (MW276). A Florida native, Charlie was called to Midwifery after her own experience with the over-medicalized model of childbirth. She began her service as a doula by founding Barefoot Birth in 2008, and has worked as a strong advocate for better care for families alongside the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services, The Birth Survey, The Florida Council of Licensed Midwifery, and others. She has attended hundreds of births over the last 11 years, filling a niche with naturally-minded families as well as those who are often marginalized from conventional medical care due to social stigma. She has written for and been featured in SQUAT Birth Journal, Tampa Bay Times, Tampa Tribune, FOCUS Magazine, Radical Doula Blog, and been interviewed for the Tampa NBC Affiliate for her community projects The Barefoot Bus--a fully mobile prenatal care unit operating under the easy access model of care as well as her 501c3 The Community Roots Collective. Charlie's belief is that every family deserves safe and quality care, and hopes to continue to build stronger communities through beautiful births.