Pick a class:
There is difference between Bikram and hot yoga. Bikram is a type of hot yoga where you do the same 26 postures every time. It's heavily structured, it has to meet certain requirements to use the Bikram name, and the instructors actually have a script they use to instruct the class. It's 40% humidity and 105 degrees and classes are 90 minutes.
Bikram is probably OK for people who have never done yoga before. I mean it will probably still wipe the floor with you, but I don't think it would be as frustrating for a beginner as an intermediate or advanced heated vinyasa class.
Just check out this chart of Bikram poses, I'm sure you could do some version of these poses (although probably not for the entire time prescribed) versus some of the crazy balances you'd see in a vinyasa or ashtanga class.
Hot yoga is simply yoga performed in a heated room. At my studio the classes are different every time and there are different heat levels: "heated" at 90-92 degress, and "hot" at 95-98 degrees. Classes are usually 75-90 minutes.
I do hot yoga because there isn't a Bikram studio near me, but at the hot yoga studio I attend there is a "Hot 26 postures" class that's the same sequence as Bikram, just without the Bikram name (because Bikram's kind of crazy)
If you've never done yoga before, go to an "intro" vinyasa style class. If you don't know what it means when an instructor tells you to "vinyasa through", a higher-level class probably won't be very much fun.
The day before:
Start hydrating! Make a conscious effort to drink plenty of water the day before you go to yoga. It will make a difference in how you feel the next day.
What to eat:
At least two hours before class: eat a little bit, nothing heavy, but something with lots of protein in it. I like scrambled eggs and bacon. Keep drinking water!
If you don't have time or if you're just waking up for a morning class (let's be real I'm usually just dragging myself out of bed at 8:30AM for a 9 o'clock class), have a glass of water and a whey protein shake with a pre-workout energizer 30 minutes before class.
What to wear:
Wear quick-drying athletic clothes instead of a cotton tee shirt, it's going to get soaked quickly and weigh you down.
If you're going to Bikram or a Bikram-style class, wear as little as possible: skimpy top and shorts.
Wear a headband to keep sweat out of your face. My favorite is the lululemon bang buster for $14:
|lululemon bang buster headband|
You don't need shoes or socks, flip flops will suffice to get you to the studio. You'll leave your shoes outside the yoga room anyways.
What to bring:
A mat if you have it, a yoga towel or a beach towel, a small towel to wipe your face with, and at least 32 ounces of water. I also like to bring tea tree oil face wipes to wipes my face immediately after class so I don't break out.
Get to class early:
At least 20-30 minutes early your first time. Tell the instructor it's your first time, register, pay for the new student special, put your shoes up, borrow a mat if you have to, and then go into the room.
Pick out your spot:
I recommend the spot right next to the door. People coming and going will use that door and give you a breath of cool air. Also, if you need to leave, you won't disturb other people.
After you've camped out, go to the bathroom. Not fun practicing with a full bladder.
Come back to your mat, lie down, and relax or stretch before class begins.
Breathe. You (probably) won't puke. Take a break to wipe your face off and take a drink if you need to. Don't be too proud to take a child's pose.
What's your advice for someone who is going to their first hot yoga class?