It’s so tempting to temporarily step outside of the 105 degree hot yoga room, isn’t it? You can take it from me, I hated the heat when I first started practicing Bikram’s hot yoga over 10 years ago. I was the worst student possible, I would drink water constantly, wave my hands in exasperation, give the teachers dirty looks, and I would inevitably leave class at least once.
It only took me a decade to figure this out, but leaving the room doesn’t do your body or spirit any favors. Here are some of my top reasons to stay in the room during my hot yoga practice.
#1 – It makes you feel hotter
If you’re burning up in class, leaving the room isn’t the solution, in fact it can make your body feel hotter. When I first started practicing yoga, my body always ran hot, so adjusting to the heat of the room was a challenge. After you sit in the lobby, coming back to your practice will feel hotter due to the contrast of temperature on your skin and it will be very hard to get back into the meditative yoga mindset needed to complete class. By leaving you think you’ll cool down, but you’ll actually feel hotter when you head back to class. The biggest thing is that you take away your body’s ability to adapt to the heat, which means leaving class just delays your body’s beautiful and natural ability to adjust to extreme heat over time. The longer you stay in the room, the less hot it will feel next time you practice.
Instead of leaving class, just sit out a posture or two! There is nothing wrong with taking a break, focusing on your breath, and letting your heart rate decrease. These steps will help your body slow down—and cool down—without disrupting your practice or the people around you.
#2 – You gain nothing from leaving the room
I can’t think of a single thing you gain by leaving the room, instead, you have so much to lose. You lose your focus, you lose your momentum, you lose the flexibility you gained by staying in the heated room, you lose the self-confidence needed to stick with your next class, and you do your body harm rather than good.
#3 – It can become a bad habit
Once you get in the habit, this one can be hard to break. It’s kind of like smoking cigarettes, just don’t do it and you’ll never become hooked! Many people leave at a certain time of class (or even worse early!) to avoid certain postures or final savasana. Sometimes this is conscious and sometimes we don’t even realize we’re creating a pattern of avoidance.
#4 – It means you’re not prepared for class
Okay so let’s assume you’re not leaving the room because of the heat, then the only reasonable explanations could be that you want to fill your water bottle or use the bathroom. If you need to leave during a 60 or 90 minute class, this means that you’re either not hydrating properly before class (you shouldn’t be drinking a ton of water during class) or you didn’t use the restroom before hand.
If you’re on the verge of an accident, fine, leave the room. But that will happen approximately once in your entire yoga career. ;)
#5 – It’s disrespectful to the people around you
This one is hard to fully appreciate when you’re in panic mode and all you want to do is leave the “hot yoga chamber”. Yoga is a personal practice, but it’s also a group practice. When you leave the room you can disrupt the mental and physical state of everyone else practicing with you. The second you leave, everyone else thinks about leaving the room too.
I encourage you to dig deep, take a few breaths, and relax on your mat. Leaving the room won’t advance your practice and it has the possibility to disrupt all of your yogi friends.