Roll open a yoga mat these days and you’ll touch a yoga studio. Yoga is more popular in Singapore than ever before and there seems to be studio in every other mall and shophouse corner. Different styles of yoga are on offer and amongst those hot yoga is growing faster than any other kind right now. ‘Hot’ and ‘Non Hot’ versions of yoga are available in more and more studios.
But hot yoga, done properly, involves more than just turning up the heat and making you sweat. The postures you do, the sequence you do them in, how the heat is managed matter a lot. So with an increasing number of ‘hot’ yoga studios out there, how do you choose one that is good? Here is a quick guide:
Good heating. There are different ways to heat a room and a good hot yoga studio will invest in a heating system that heats the yoga room evenly, or as evenly as possible. Poor heating systems will have you roasting in some parts of the room and cold in other parts.
Good ventilation. You want hot air not stale air. In some studios, there is insufficient ventilation and the yoga rooms get way too stuffy. There’s nothing worse than a crowded hot yoga class with no air. If you see the teacher having to open the door frequently to let air in, it’s because the room is badly ventilated. Ceiling fans help, and at BYCH Hot Yoga, there is a fresh air exchange system that sucks out the hot air and pumps in fresh air from outside, keeping air circulated and humidity under better control.
Teachers trained to teach hot yoga. Teaching hot yoga is not just about teaching whatever style of yoga a teacher normally teaches, just with the heat on. It’s about knowing what yoga works best in the heat, what the heat does to your body, and how to control the heat. For instance, traditional hot yoga is designed to be practiced in 40°C — this series of 26 Hatha postures and two breathing exercises, with the heat, is a complete practice, mentally and physically, top to toe, from the inside out. A specially trained hot yoga teacher will also know how to keep the temperature and humidity at the right levels, so that students are working in the heat and not dying from it; and will also know that adjusting the temperature by even one degree can affect one’s heart rate. They are also trained to look out for signs of dehydration and fatigue, and know how to handle students who get dizzy or lightheaded.
Dedicated hot yoga rooms. A good heating system takes time heat a room up properly and keep it at the right temperature, so hot yoga rooms should be used for only that for a significant period of time. If you see a yoga room that’s used for hot yoga at 5pm then non-hot at 7pm, it’s not a good sign. Heating is not like air-conditioning that can be flipped on and off.
Manageable class sizes. This applies to any yoga class, and definitely to hot yoga. The last thing you want in a hot yoga class is to be showered with your neighbour’s sweat or to be hit with the pong of their body odour. Hot yoga rooms should not be filled over capacity.
Educated water policy. When you are struggling in a hot yoga class and the heat is getting to you, gulping down loads of water might seem like a good idea — but it’s not. Drink a lot and you might bloat up; and water drunk during class won’t do much to hydrate you then anyway as water takes about an hour to make its way through your system. It’s best to limit yourself to drinking small amounts in class, just enough to quench your thirst; and make sure you hydrate yourself properly before and after class. Teachers at a good hot yoga studio will tell you this.
Elaine Ee is trained as a Hatha yoga and hot yoga teacher. She currently teaches at BYCH Hot Yoga (252 North Bridge Road, #02-14 Raffles City Shopping Centre; 6339 6639; www.bych.sg). She advocates the safe and proper practice of hot yoga.
How to Choose a Hot Yoga Studio
Pick the right hot yoga studio so that you get a safe, beneficial sweaty practice
First published on insing.com