Things can get pretty steamy in a hot yoga class, where the temperature is between 90 and 108 degrees Fahrenheit. All that sweat, coupled with the fact that you're barefoot, increases your chances of sliding around on your mat. Luckily, there are ways to prevent slipping during your favorite Bikram class.
And if you do slip, you can do it safely and embrace your less-than-graceful moment as a learning opportunity. Here are some tips from yoga instructors who see it all the time during class.
1. Be Careful of Transitions
"Quick transitions on a slippery mat can be an accident waiting to happen," says Jenny Finkel, yoga instructor and Hot Yoga Instructor at Studio Three in Chicago. Be mindful when making sudden movements during a sequence, since that's when slipping is most likely to happen.
Take a deep breath and pay attention to the movement as well as the mat and the accumulated moisture, locking in your balance and steadiness. "Remember that yoga is a practice of awareness, and use this as an opportunity to stay mindful during transitions," she says.
And pay extra close attention to specific slip-prone poses. "Hands sliding out from under you in Downward Facing Dog and feet slipping in standing poses such as Warrior II are among the most common instances of slipping in hot yoga," Finkel says. "It's not just a matter of comfort, but one of safety." Go into them slowly.
2. Look for a Mat With Grip
Don't pick some cheap, flimsy mat that doesn't have a sturdy gripping texture. No matter how cute or stylish it may be, it won't be your safest option. "Choose a mat with grip!" Finkel says.
"Mat preference is deeply personal to each practitioner, so you might have to try out a few before you find your perfect mat match." Her top picks include The Mat by lululemon, Jade mats and Liforme yoga mats, as they offer both grip and support.
3. Bring a Mat Towel
"In a deeply sweaty practice, a grippy mat will only get you so far; hence the mat towel can be a hot yogi's best friend," Finkel says. You can use a towel you already have, like a beach or bath towel, or you can buy one that's specifically made to go over your mat. (Finkel recommends Manduka's yogitoes towel.)
"As an added bonus, a mat towel provides a protective, sanitary barrier between you and the mat, so you can use a studio rental mat without fear," she says. It's also easier to toss in your gym bag and take with you than lugging around a heavy yoga mat, so it makes heading from the office to the yoga studio after work a breeze.
Towels should be slightly damp in order to provide optimal grip and extra traction, so spritz it down before the start of class, she says.
4. Embrace Slipping With Grace
"Looking back over the history of yoga, the yoga mat itself is a fairly modern invention," Finkel says. "We've gotten accustomed to the traction that mats provide, but that's not inherent to the practice." Our ancestors were used to slipping a bit, and they even looked to it as a benefit to help them improve their practice.
"If you catch yourself sliding around in class, focus on muscular activation to keep you in place, and embrace that it's allowing you to experience your yoga practice in a different way," she says. Just be super careful when doing so and realize it may take some time to get the hang of it.
5. Clean Your Area
The golden rule applies to yoga class, too. Clean up your sweat off the ground — just as you want others to do — so people in the next class don't have a wet, sticky surface to deal with. "If everyone wipes up their own sweat after class, then nobody has to step in someone else's puddle after class," Finkel says.
6. Don't Do Hot Yoga All the Time
If you're the kind of person that gets really sweaty even after a few minutes or if you're so worried about slipping you forget to focus on the class, try a type of yoga that isn't heated to make it a bit easier.
No matter what you do, moving in a hot, humid environment means you can't avoid slipping and sliding 100 percent of the time. So if you can't seem to maintain control during class, try a cooler environment for your practice instead. You'll still get the same benefits for your body and mind.