6 Ways to Completely Exhaust Yourself in a Hot Yoga Class

Have you ever left a hot yoga class and felt completely wiped out for the rest of the day?  I remember in my yoga beginnings, about 8 years ago now, this would happen every once in awhile and it always left me wondering why?  Didn’t the instructor yammer on and on about how yoga was one of the few activities that gives you energy instead of taking it away? That it was the gas tank fueling us up for the rest of the day?

Last night I taught the most amazing class.  It was the kind of class in which the students moved in exact synchronicity with one another, in which every correction was heard and completed.  There was a beautiful stillness in between the postures.  You could hear the breath of the practitioners create this unified sound, as if they were a choir trying to sing a single note in perfect unison.  After the class was completed, several questions were asked about how to go deeper into certain postures, what correct form was, or how to deal with certain physical limitations. These people were serious about their yoga.

Not serious in a bad way – but curious, ready to learn, and seeking a greater discipline in their practice. They already seem to know that there is no perfect in yoga, just being in class, trying their hardest, was perfect enough. These students had already let go of some stuff – not all of it, but enough that it wasn’t getting in the way of them fueling up their tank, helping to give them enthusiasm for their practice, and what it was bringing into their life.

There are so many things that all of us do (teachers included!) that can really take the wind out of our sails in a hot yoga, or Bikram Yoga class.  Most of the time just being aware of what some of our quirks are is a huge step towards change in our practice.  The smallest things can take away from your time in the hot room, including, but definitely not limited to:

  1. Leaning into the drama.  I often see students indicate how hard they are working.  Falling out of postures with bravado, making, “ I am working so hard,” faces in the mirror, or moaning on their mats.  Believe me, I know you are working hard.  That’s what you showed up to do.  When you stop putting energy into these things you will have more energy for the postures and the discipline of the practice.
  2. Wiping the sweat. I used to love my hand towel.  It really wasn’t until teacher training that I had to let it go and just let the sweat drip.  The more you towel off in the hot room the more your body has to work to create more sweat to cool you off.  So, I know it feels great to wipe and swipe, but you’re actually making it harder on yourself in the long run.
  3. Fixing the hair or pulling on the outfit.  This seems like a tiny thing, but if you are futzing with the hair, the outfit, the headband, the hair tie, the mat, or the hand towel in between every single posture you are going to wipe yourself out.  Just know your appearance is not going to be the same when you leave the room as when you entered it.  You will look like you went into the shower with your clothes on.  Try and only adjust the clothes or the hair when it becomes something that will truly distract you or steal your focus.
  4. Grabbing the water bottle.  Try and take water when you truly need it.  Once or twice throughout class is probably enough.  If you are in the standing series and need a sip, try to take it and remain standing.  Often we take a seat to get to the water and it becomes a full on break.
  5. Comparing your practice to your neighbor’s.   Your practice is your own.  Don’t try and compete with the person next to you.  This leads to an aggression in the postures, which will have you forcing a posture to happen instead of allowing the body to open up to it. 
  6. Acting like a professional.  When you become a professional at anything you are telling the Universe you already know everything about that subject.  In yoga you always want to be open, to hear new things, and explore the deepest parts of our Self.  Stay new to your practice every single time you hit the mat.  Each posture has layers of learning attached to it.  Each breath we notice wakes us up to the Now.  Each moment holds new possibilities.

Have you ever gotten wiped out in a hot yoga class and wondered why?  What did you have to let go in order to move forward?


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16 thoughts on “6 Ways to Completely Exhaust Yourself in a Hot Yoga Class

  1. Do you read my mind? This past Monday was the most challenging class – I had to stop and just lay there from Rabbit onward (only one camel too). I couldn’t catch my breath and it took everything I had to not leave the room – as well I totally hyper-extended my shoulder in the standing series and was just about done in by the last round of breathing. I left really disappointed in myself and wondering WHY that happened – I’d been in a hotter room…

    So now I’m sort of half anticipating and half scared of Thursday’s class (I take Tues & Wed off ) as it’s the last class of the evening and always rather hot.

    I’m also guilty of #3 – re-adjusting my clothing especially if it’s something new that I’m wearing 🙂 – not horribly fidgety but definitely hyper-aware if I think i’m going to have a clothing malfunction!

    So we shall see what Thursday brings – but I typically learn that when I just go in with a gentle attitude it’s A-OK.

  2. I am so grateful that you liked my post because I don’t know how I would have found you otherwise! I have been (and still am some days) guilty of all the things you mentioned in this post. I’ve been working on #1 by smiling in the mirror at my sweat streaked face. I still have days when I work so hard I fall out of postures, but I have started counting to 3 before starting again. I am also guilty of #3 more often than not. Usually it is because I’m trying a new pair of shorts or my sports bra straps are slowly loosening due to the incredible moisture it has soaked up during class. I usually pull and tug to prevent a wardrobe malfunction, but it’s still really distracting to my practice (and probably other people’s). Not really sure how to remedy this, but some miraculous solution will come to me 🙂 Thank you for your inspirational posts.

    • So glad you liked the post this week! Just know that little by little all of these things will literally melt away as you continue to practice. Just set your intention for what you would like to let go of first and then work towards releasing the habit. I had a student tell me she fidgeted too much between each posture. Once she realized she was doing it she decided to make the whole class about not moving once the posture was over. She said she couldn’t believe how much energy she had after class. Sometimes it’s just knowing what your stuff is :). Thanks for reading and your kind words – they mean a lot!

  3. Oh man! When it’s going to be one of those classes I just have to accept that it’s going to be a hard one and do my best. I usually accept that’s it hot, accept the heat, and move on! I find that newer practitioners can’t move past the heat.

    I don’t use a towel to wipe but I TOTALLY wipe sweat from my eyes and ears with my hands, fix my shorts, and fix my hair in class. I know I shouldn’t but it’s so hard!!! Esp. sweat dripping in my ears- yuck!!!

    One thing I’ve consciously STOPPED is fixing my mat and towel. A lot of people at my studio immediately fixes their mat before balancing stick. As if a crooked mat or a wrinkle in your towel is going to make you lose balance!

    I wonder sometimes if teachers are holding their tongues when people are fidgeting. I’m sure we’re all totally predicable in when and how we fidget too!

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Glad you liked it and could relate! We all have things that distract us in the room, but the longer you practice the more it all just drops away. The biggest thing is becoming aware of the things that we do – then we can work towards changing it. Thanks for contributing to the conversation! Hope you have a great week in the hot room 🙂

    • They are energy sinks, but they are something to overcome in any practice. Once you let go of the extra stuff that’s when you’re truly there in that moment, that breath. It’s becoming aware of these things and then working to release them that can be the greatest challenge. Thanks for reading this week and contributing to the conversation!

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