Yoga is one of the oldest known forms of both physical fitness and emotional development. Practicing yoga is an opportunity to exercise while being in tune with your body, and it has many benefits, especially for otherwise sedentary adults. As a form of meditation, yoga can help you overcome stress and reflect on your life’s choices. Plus, it’s a great way to socialize. Today, hot yoga is one of the hottest trends in the fitness world.
What is hot yoga?
Founded in the 1970s, a hot yoga workout is essentially the practicing of yoga poses in what equates to a sauna. A hot yoga room will have a temperature of approximately 100 to 108°F with a 40 to 50% humidity level. The goal here is to increase the heart rate and loosen the muscles. Unlike with regular yoga, which usually takes place outdoors or in a cool and comfortable studio, you will sweat profusely within minutes, and you can expect a class to last a minimum of an hour up to 90 minutes.
Is hot yoga safe?
Because hot yoga includes sweating for extended amounts of time in a hot room, it has risks. These include heat exhaustion and dehydration. However, the vast majority of healthy individuals can safely practice this and other physical activities by drinking plenty of water and listening to their bodies.
Hot Yoga And Pregnancy
Pregnant women should avoid hot yoga (and any other intense workout) until after the baby is born. Even then, they should wear compression leggings along with a fitted sports bra to reduce injuries to a still-healing body. If you’re unsure about safety, ask your yoga instructor about the health benefits and risks of working out in a higher temperature.
Benefits Of Hot Yoga
Now that we’ve covered what it is and how to practice yoga safely, it’s time to look at the unexpected benefits of sweating through your asanas. These include:
As with other forms of yoga – goat yoga is also popular – hot yoga gives you a chance to focus on yourself without being distracted by the stress of the day. It can take your mind off of perceived stress triggers.
Well And Good points out that the vast majority of detoxing happens by the liver and kidneys. But, all the sweating you do during your hot yoga class can help your body push out fat-soluble toxins. Something to keep in mind here is that you must shower soon after your sweat session. Otherwise, these toxins will be reabsorbed right back to your body.
Hot yoga can help you burn about the same amount of calories as a traditional Vinyasa session – approximately 400 an hour. However, your muscles experience increased flexibility during a hot yoga session, This means that recovery time is likely quicker and you may be able to do other workouts with less pain in the hours and days following your hot yoga class. Ultimately, any type of yoga is a great way to burn calories.
We’ve already mentioned that your muscles are more flexible when you work out in a hot room. Over time, this improved flexibility while working out can result in you being more flexible in your daily life.
Countering Bone Loss
According to a 2010 study posted on ResearchGate, Bikram Yoga (named after the first hot yoga studio) may improve skeletal health and even prevent some measure of bone loss. This is of special interest to women over the age of 30, which is when the body naturally decreases bone growth.
There’s no way to get around the difficulties you may encounter breathing during your first few hot yoga classes. But, Runner’s World recommends yoga as a way for athletes to improve endurance, which is a crucial component when coping with physical stress.
More Restful Sleep
Virtually all types of exercises are known to help you sleep. A hot yoga class is no different, and working out in the heat early in the day may help your body wear down quicker so that you can fall asleep faster and enjoy a more restful slumber throughout the night.
Depression is a serious mental health disorder that should first be discussed with your healthcare provider. However, the American Academy of Family Physicians points out that yoga, among other exercises, has been studied to treat mild to moderate depression. While no form of exercise should be considered a standalone treatment (except with your healthcare provider’s prescription) the endorphins your body creates during physical activity can have a powerful effect on mood.
Anytime you sweat, your body has better circulation. Better circulation results in more nutrients and oxygen circulating throughout the skin. Yoga in a humid room can give you that healthy glow that we all desire.
Eases Back Pain
Any time you focus on flexibility, core strength, healthy weight loss, and muscle tone, you’re doing your back a favor. Considering that back pain affects approximately 80% of adults at some point, anything you can do now to stave off discomfort is a boon to your well-being.
How To Practice Hot Yoga Safely
Many hot yoga studios are known for implementing best safety practices. However, if you have a pre existing health condition, such as high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease, you’ll need to take extra steps to keep yourself safe when you’re on the yoga mat. This includes drinking water and stopping if you feel dizzy. You also want to pay close attention to your body temperature, and stop if you experience heat intolerance.
During any hot yoga session, bring a towel and practice breathing as a way to cool your body down. Take plenty of breaks, and, most importantly, talk to your doctor if you continually feel fatigued, have issues with dehydration, or have heart disease, osteoarthritis, or rheumatoid arthritis.
Ultimately, hot yoga has many benefits that, for most people, outweigh the potential risks. It is an excellent way to aid in everything from weight loss to recovery after an accident or injury. But, make sure that your yoga studio has safety measures in place to keep you safe, and don’t forget to bring your water.
If you would like to follow step-by-step instructions to perfect your yoga poses, check out the articles from our expert yoga instructor Amanda Helms.