Dear lovely yogi’s
I wanted to share the hot yoga lowdown in regards to sweat, electrolytes and how to get
the most out of a practise session. This is a brief overview and there is more detailed info
out there, also if anyone ever has any questions big or small during a class, we are always
here to answer any wonderings and ponderings when it comes to the understanding of the
intricate workings of your hot yoga praccy.
Some sessions are hotter than others. You know those ones where you sweat so much
that you seem to wring out your elbows in Garudasana! Well there are a couple of really
important do’s and don’ts to bare in mind when it comes to dealing with this slippy, drippy
DON’T wipe away your sweat. Leave it. You are sweating for a reason.
Think beach holidays. When you are in hot, high temperatures and you’re so hot that you
need to jump into the sea to cool off…When you get out of the sea, despite the high
temperatures in the air you can still feel a chill and might reach for a towel to wrap around
This is because the water from the sea/pool on top of the skin interacts with the air and
cools, thus cooling the skin.
The cooler skin then cools the blood directly underneath the skin which in turn is pumped
back round the body and eventually to the heart. This cooling process is set into motion by
the water on the the skin and has a cooling effect on the whole body.
The same theory applies to sweat. And so as you can imagine, if the sweat can sit on top
of the skin, then it can interact with the air, thus cooling the skin, circulatory system and as
a result calming the heart rate.
In hot yoga the heat and the challenging asanas raise the heart rate (hence the great
workout). As a result of the increase in heart rate, the body produces sweat in order for
the sweat to interact with the air and cool the blood (the body’s natural cooling process).
Hopefully this is making sense… if you wipe away your sweat you are taking away your
body’s ability to cool. Therefore impeding the process of calming your heart.
Food for thought
- DO notice when you wipe away your sweat.
- DO notice when you leave your sweat alone, suddenly you don’t sweat so much…?
- DO pay attention to your electrolytes…
Understanding that when we sweat, we don’t just lose fluid. We lose vital minerals called
electrolytes. You may have noticed that some days it really doesn’t seem to matter how
much fluid you consume after and before a hot yoga class, you can still feel tired,lethargic,
perhaps have a headache, maybe feel slow on the uptake or forget what you were saying,
thirsty for something, hungry for something?
DON’T worry – you are not going as crazy as a thirsty goldfish! Any of these could be signs
that you are lacking in some vital minerals. And what your body really needs is some
things more specific.
Researching into electrolytes can help. It really isn’t just about eating a banana and
drinking a vita coco carton post praccy. Of course this can help, certainly with potassium
intake, but it’s highly likely that it could not be enough of what you need.
Mineral deficiencies and consumptions are complex. Levels and required intake isn’t
necessarily dependent on your physical activities (deficiencies can be caused by many
things, we are all so very different!).
Also practising hot yoga once a week say, would not necessarily call for a mammoth
electrolyte restoration. Mindfulness and personal assesment is required. And like most
practises, listening in to the signs and signals from your own body will tell you what you
need to know.
Personally I practise and teach in a hot yoga environment up to 10 times a week, and I try
to balance out using electrolyte tabs with natural juicing and mineral consumption from
foods – trying to tune in daily to what may be needed.
It does depend on your amount of weekly practise – one session a week combined with a
healthy plant heavy based diet should be fine. However practising more frequently or
combined with an active, athletic lifestyle could benefit from a raised awareness regarding
your bodies upkeep and balance of minerals, and therefore a consumption of all the
electrolytes and not just one.
Which Electrolytes do we need to balance from all this SWEATING?
The most common known electrolytes are Sodium, Potassium, Chloride, Magnesium
Many different foods give us each of these. Even balancing such combinations can enrich
or deplete an intake (see particularly info on magnesium).
Below I have given a basic list of each. This is a simple introduction and I must stress that
it isn’t just a case of sticking to these things. The variety and beautifully colorful multitude
of foods that can give us so much of what is good for us is endless.
Let this just be the beginning of your electrolyte awareness
- modest amounts (& not overused) of (Himalayan Pink) Rock Salt (is the best)
- nuts and seeds
- meats and dairy
*It is said healthy adults should consume no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day.
- greens (kale, sprouts, asparagus…etc)
- apricots, bananas, strawberries, lime, melon, orange, lemon, grapefruit, dates…
- rye! !
- Himalayan rock salt
- peas! !
- whole unrefined grains: quinoa, bulgar wheat, buckwheat, spelt, rye, brown/red rice
Electrolytes On the GO
There are also tablets and liquid forms of electrolyte supplements that are available on the
market that have all the essential electrolytes you may lose through your training.
This can be another option, especially if you are practising regularly or more than twice a
day (I would not recommend back to back classes but that is another topic for another
Please see the web link below for further guidance on electrolyte additives.
Always use caution when using additives, check labels and of course contact your GP if you have any
concerns. What works for my body may not for yours.
See you on the mat!
Love Rachel x