A few people have been emailing me about this recently, so I just wanted to put together an article which might answer some of your questions and allow me to share my experience of hot yoga.
As some of you might have read in this article, I am trying to get into a regular yoga routine, but find it very hard because, after running around all day as a teacher (seriously, you’d be surprised how much running around teachers do!), I’m absolutely exhausted, not in a worrying way, but I sometimes feel as if my body has had all the exercise it needs for one day.
However, and this is going to sound disgusting(!), I sometimes enjoy getting all sweaty during exercise. Whether or not you believe that it truly detoxes the body, I often feel better after a good sweat, so it seems as though doing hot yoga would be the natural thing to do. Sometimes however, as I mentioned above, I instinctively know that a hot yoga session is going to be too much, and this is especially true of coupling hot yoga and Chronic Fatigue.
Should I try hot yoga if I have CFS or fatigue?
Honestly, I would be very, very careful about going to hot yoga if you have CFS. I’m sure that some hot yoga teachers might disagree with me on this one, but hear me out. Check that you’re doing it because you and your body feel ready for it, not because you feel as though you should be doing exercise and/or that you can ‘beat the heat’. Your ego shouldn’t come into it at all. Do it for the right reasons, not because you’re trying to prove a point (the same goes for exercise in general, by the way!) Hands up, I often used to come out of hot yoga giving myself a silent pat on the back, “Well done, you didn’t sit down once- yeah!”. Not so great my darlings, not at all. There is no way exercise would even have entered my mind if I’d been in the very early stages of recovery- most of my time was taken up with sleep!
Some people presume that yoga is easy because some of the postures don’t look particularly athletic. Any yogi worth their salt will know that this isn’t true. Add in the 40 degree heat and your heart will be jumping around like anything. In theory, this is a good thing, but not if you’re already stretched to the point of exertion. If you have CFS, you don’t want to be more tired than when you came in. The possibility of relapse in this case might also be quite high.
Tips if you decide to give hot yoga a go
- Tell the teacher before the class that you’ve been ill or have an ongoing illness related to extreme fatigue (you don’t have to go into too much detail if you don’t want to.) Better still, phone the studio and ask them to advise you on whether they would recommend their classes to someone who has an ongoing illness (beware of any doubt or gut sense that they just want to get you in the studio for your dollars- you can’t mess around with your health.)
- Drink up to 2 litres of water before the class (not directly before, as you’ll be too full) and make sure you’ve had a big meal at least 2 hours before the class.
- Sit out of any of the poses if you’re feeling ill and even ‘not quite right’- there is absolutely no shame in it and your teacher will encourage this.
- Rest properly afterwards. I often feel as though I have a lot more energy after yoga, but don’t overdo it. It’s all about balance.
- Stay hydrated after the class and make sure you eat normally afterwards.
- Listen to your body in the days after the class and if you’d like to go back, make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons and not because your ego is pushing you.
To be honest, I often felt really, really good after hot yoga. I felt as if I’d really ‘done’ something (and that wasn’t just my ego talking.) However, I think there is still a stigma attached to it, as many people believe that it isn’t ‘real’ yoga, and to be honest, I’ve often pretended not to like hot yoga when I actually don’t mind it so much. I think that the heat does help to loosen your muscles a little bit, making it easier to move into some postures. Also, the fact that everyone is just as sweaty as you are means that you’re not so focused on how you look. This doesn’t stop you staring at other people’s postures entirely, but it does help.
However, I sometimes feel as if I’m not enjoying my classes as much, because I feel as though I’m pushing through the class rather than taking it as it comes. You could say that this comes down to my attitude on the day, and I would accept this entirely. But you should never, ever push through a class (even using the word ‘push’ makes me feel a little sick!) The yoga should meet you where you are, not the other way around.
Studios to try in Sydney
Hom Yoga is located in the CBD and has a variety of styles of yoga, all conducted in a hot (around 38 degree) environment. They also have some great weekend workshops and the teachers are experienced and generous with their time.
I once had a trial pass for Bikram Yoga in Darlinghurst (very close to the CBD) and to be honest, I really should’ve taken advantage of my pass a little bit more. The instructor was incredibly helpful and I found the studio very welcoming.
All-in-all, if you’re at an advanced stage in your recovery, you can only try hot yoga for yourself and see what happens. If there’s one piece of advice I would give you, it’s that you must know 1000% that you are ready for this new experience- don’t push it and you must look after yourself after the class.
Let me know if you’ve tried hot yoga below or you’re tempted to give it a go!
Love and patience,
Disclaimer: This blog was set up to document my healing from ME/CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) in the hope of reaching out to others and sharing our journeys together. The blog is based solely on what has worked for me and my own, personal experiences. I am not a professional counsellor or doctor, I have no medical training of any sort and no background in medicine. If you are receiving medical help, please continue to do so, and do not substitute anything you read about on this website for professional advice.
I will take no responsibility or liability for anything that happens as a result of any advice or tips given on this blog. What works for one person might not work for another person- we are all different and our bodies will take different times to heal and recover. If you choose to follow any advice given on the blog, please know that I cannot and will not take responsibility or liability for situations, losses, damages or consequences which ensue.