Learn to Love the Heat in Bikram Yoga

Learning to love the heat in yoga class comes slowly for a lot of us. I frequently hear people who rejoice after their first class, talking about how good the heat feels. I wasn’t one of those people. I would get “pre-class jitters” nervously anticipating the heat, wondering how I’d feel during class.

But over time I transformed — and I now love the heat I used to dread. I never thought I’d say those words. Thankfully, we can change.

Take a long final savasana

Your instincts will tell you to jump up and leave, the moment the teacher leaves the classroom. And if you’re like me, the thought of laying in a hot sweaty heap one more millisecond sounds like torture. Rest assured taking a long savasana after class will help you handle the heat in future classes. When teachers first told me this I filed it away in the “yoga teacher BS” category, but here’s how and why it works:

During class you’re working your ass off. You’re heart rate is up, the heat feels intense and you’re constantly moving. When you have time at the end of the class to relax, all of your body’s systems slowly go back to normal. This process is important for several reasons, but when it comes to the heat, you’re body has time to adjust in a way it can’t during class. When you’re in final savasana the process of adjusting to the heat happens ten fold. Think of it as a period for your body to absorb the muscle memory from the work you did in the postures AND a time for it to recalibrate to the heat.

It’s kind of like your body getting used to a hot bath. After those first few painful moments, your body eventually adjusts to the temperature of the water.

Stay in savasana for at least twenty deep, slow breaths. Your future self will thank you.


Get to class early

I used to wait in the lobby until the teacher was about to start class. I didn’t want to spend an extra second in the hot yoga room. Getting to class early and spending time stretching or relaxing in savasana and your class will be easier. Similar to your final savasana, these are precious moments in class where you’re not exerting yourself and your body can calibrate to the heat.

You may start to sweat before class — lucky you — you’re already cooling down.

Skip the cold towel at the end of class

If you live in the Washington D.C. metro area or Virginia, you may have become accustomed to a small cold towel at the end of the class (most studios do not do this). Do your best to enjoy your savasana without the cold towel on your face. This will not only help you adjust to the heat, it will build your discipline!

The cold towel shocks your body. By letting your body naturally cool down, you can enjoy the benefits of the long savasana I described above. Once you’re fully cooled down and have taken 10-20 deep breaths, then you can go-to-town with the cold towel.

Paying it forward and resisting the towel will make future classes less hot. Don’t believe me? Try it!

Skip or reduce alcohol consumption

Alcohol will make you feel hotter in class. If the heat is unbearable, skip the beer or wine on night’s before yoga class.

Drink room temperature water

Avoid drinking ice cold water in class, pouring water on yourself or indulging in too much water. All three of these things will make you feel much hotter than you need to during class.

Avoid wiping away your sweat

This is your body’s cooling system, if you wipe sweat from your face or other body parts, you will feel hotter throughout class. You can read amazing facts about your skin (and it’s ability to maintain our temperature) here.

Release the heat

We all have different bodies and have different thresholds for heat. But at the end of the day, you just need to stop thinking about it.

Whether class seems too hot or too cold, we can get caught up in repetitive, unproductive thoughts that take us away from our practice. Notice when this is happening, acknowledge it, and let the thoughts go. Come back to your breath, focus on the teacher’s dialogue and get back to being present for your beautiful practice.


Work really hard in the opening breathing sequence to get your body’s cooling system started (sweating). This will generate internal heat which will help you start to sweat. More heat Lindsay?!

Practice, practice, practice

The more you practice the easier it gets! It’s easy to want to adjust to the heat right away, but like all things in yoga the more you practice the easier it becomes.

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(Photo credit: MissN (cropped) Flickr CC, Nick Wheeleroz (adapted) Flickr CC)

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