This year marks my 6 year yogaversary.
I started waaaaay back in 2008, totally unsure of what I should expect outside of making a total fool of myself in front of a room full of experienced, bendy people. I was positive that would happen.
But then it didn’t. The thing about yoga class is that it’s impossible to make a fool of yourself because the people that are serious about their practice don’t care what you look like. You could fall out of mountain pose and it wouldn’t matter. The yoga community reminds me a lot of the running community in that regardless of your experience level, you are warmly welcomed. I have met some seriously wonderful people in my yoga classes.
But I get it. The first class – much like any new experience – can be nerve wracking. If you think you need to prepare at home beforehand, you don’t. I believe it’s actually better to start in a studio where they are trained to make sure you are properly aligned and won’t injure yourself. That’s something you can’t get from any DVD or YouTube video. I still get adjusted and pick up good tips from my teachers. It’s a learning process that goes on probably forever.
My first class was at my old fancy gym back when I didn’t have a child and could afford to frivolously shell out a hundred dollars a month on such things. It was an all-level, unheated, yoga fusion class – meaning it was non-specific in style – and I loved it. If you are attending a class like this (or any unheated class for that matter), I would suggest you bring with you the following:
- A mat.
- Optional hand towel. I don’t really get sweaty in unheated classes, but it is nice to have nearby just in case.
That’s it. Depending on where you go, you might even be able to procure these items for a small fee when you get there in which case you can just show up empty handed (I wouldn’t chance it though). Often times a yoga class will utilize props such as blocks and straps and I haven’t met a studio yet that can’t provide those for you. After doing this for 6 years, I still don’t have my own strap and while I do have blocks, I don’t bother carrying them around with me.
It wasn’t long before I decided that I wanted to try out a hot class. I’m naturally very flexible, but when I heard that a heated room could make me even MORE flexible? Where do I sign?
Oh. Right there on that line that waives the studio’s responsibility if I pass out.
I’m just being dramatic, but they probably will put a waiver in front of you and if they do, don’t be scared. I’ve had to sign one at every hot studio I’ve ever visited and one for aerial yoga too just in case I fell out of the ceiling and tried to sue anyone. In the hundreds of classes I have attended over the years, I’ve only seen one medical emergency happen. I also saw a much worse medical emergency at the DMV so there you go.
Depending on what kind of hot class you’ve chosen, the temperature in the room will vary from lukewarm to blatantly uncomfortable. I went with Bikram first which would be on the blatantly uncomfortable end of the spectrum. Bikram is heated to 105 degrees. Other classes are heated between 80 and 100 or so. The vinyasa classes I frequent are 90 degrees and I always have to hang out by a space heater because at this point I’m mentally ill and 90 degrees feels doesn’t feel hot anymore.
They will also rent you mats and stuff, but I especially suggest taking your own to one of these classes unless you’re okay with laying on a mat that countless people have sweated all over in the past.
Spoiler alert: I’m not.
For any hot yoga class you will want to bring:
- A mat. Trust me on this one. I did rent one time ever and the mat smelled like roast beef. I don’t want to know why.
- Water. I like to take at least a liter. I never drink the whole thing in class, but afterwards I am always SO THIRSTY.
- A hand towel.
- A mat towel.
Any standard size towel will do. People bring in beach towels or bath towels all the time. This one guy in my Bikram class used to bring in a giant Shamwow which was freaking BRILLIANT. Basically you just want something to put down on your mat so you don’t slip in your own sweat. Because trust me…you will.
First, the Hand Towel. It is made of a very fast-drying microfiber. When I first felt it I was skeptical because the material is so thin. As a true test, I first took this towel to a Bikram class where I knew I would be at my sweatiest.
You know those paper towel commercials where it shows a person cleaning up an unfortunate juice spill in an instant with just one swipe? That was this yoga towel on my face. It doesn’t feel as if it should be more absorbent than the bath hand towels I had been taking to class, but it worked SO much better. I’m never going back to those old towels again.
The main complaint I have had about every single one of my mat towels is that they bunch up a lot as I move around on them. I am OCD about the flatness of my towel and the constant adjusting was really throwing me out of my zone. Enter: Diamond Grip Mat Towel. It is made of the same highly absorbent microfiber, but the weave is diamond shaped to reduce slippage.
Basically it’s the best of all worlds. Not only does it not slip, but I don’t find myself laying uncomfortably in a pool of sweat during savasana because it wicks away moisture so well. Also, because the material is thin, I feel like I have really good contact with the mat at all times. So important while in a balancing pose!
One unexpected thing about this towel that I absolutely love is that it is also longer than any of my other ones. My most favorite mat is longer than standard size and my other towels didn’t completely cover it while this one does with a little extra to spare.
I’m so glad no one came in the room while my yoga mat was taking selfies. That would have been so embarrassing.
No matter what kind of yoga you decide to try and regardless of the temperature of the room, the most important thing to bring with you is a positive attitude and know that you don’t have to do every single posture in order to get amazing benefits from the class. Sit down and take breaks if you need to, hydrate properly, and take care of yourself.
Have you been to a studio class before? If so, were you nervous when you first went? Did it meet your expectations? Have you ever rented a really gross mat from the studio?