by Barbora Simek
You know the feeling, you hit the floor and it feels like the heat just hit the roof, suddenly you notice how bad your neighbor smells, how loud the teacher is and how much you just want to run for your life… relax… you’re just hot.
With New Years Resolutions and 30 Challenges kicked off at studios across the city, hot rooms across Toronto have never been busier. More bodies bring more heat and humidity. I got my ass kicked (in the best way possible) in a gloriously steamy 6pm class Nikki taught at Bikram Yoga Bloor.
While I was dying in my savasanahs, I got to thinking about my fellow class mates who died along with me, and thought it was about time to share some heat strategies with you all. In no particular order…
1) Hydrate Hydrate Hydrate
- Your body needs 1.5 liters of water per day to maintain healthy hydration
- For every Bikram class you take you should add at least 1 or 2 liters more to your intake
- Drink before class trying to hydrate during class is already too late, it takes 20-40 minutes for your body to absorb water so spend a little extra time at the water-cooler!
2) Get your electrolytes
When you sweat your body releases electrolytes (mainly sodium and potassium) which are important to maintaining your hydration. Early signs that your electrolytes are low are: tingling in your hands and feet, headache and/or cramping. If you feel these symptoms in your class, let your instructor know so they can help you. You can replenish your electrolytes in a few ways: electrolyte supplements like trace minerals or Emergen-C, coconut water, sports drinks and through foods like bananas and adding a little extra sea salt to your diet.
3) Stay still, and breathe…damn it!
You’ve been told to lay still in class before, but here is a detailed explanation of why its such a good idea:
Savasanah is an anatomically correct pose. This means that it that it takes less effort for your heart to distribute nutrients and oxygen to your muscles. As you stay still your heart gets the opportunity to slow down and your body regulates its temperature.
As soon as you begin to move, whether to fan yourself or to fidget and distract yourself, your heart rate rises again, raising your internal temperature. This means that you get hotter. It feels like moving makes things easier only because with stillness comes awareness, and your mind becomes more aware of how you feel. As usual, your thoughts are an illusion, you are safe, trust your body.
4) Stay with your teacher, word-by-word
Turn your focus to doing the individual instructions one step at a time, and do not go ahead. Be specific with your postures and stay present instead of going off of your memory of the class. When you turn to your memory, you get into your mind which, as one of my favorite teachers, John Salvatore, likes to say, “is a bad neighborhood.” When you get thinking, the thought of how hot, tired or miserable you are, is not far away. So focus one small increment at a time, one inhale, one exhale, one direction and then another, present and still.
What are your heat survival strategies?