If you have been considering doing hot yoga, but have not quite managed to motivate yourself to go, then this article will make the difference. Once you understand the amazing benefits of hot yoga, you’ll have your non-slip yoga mat ready in no time.
In addition to the benefits of hot yoga you will learn what you can expect in a class, how to prepare and who should avoid doing hot yoga.
What is Hot Yoga
The idea of Hot yoga came from Bikram Choudry. He wanted to create the same hot climate people practiced yoga in India.
He believed the heat enhances the benefits already available from practicing yoga.
People often associate Bikram yoga with hot yoga and use the terms interchangeably. However, Hot Yoga is a blanket term for any yoga that is practiced in a hot room.
Some other examples of yoga that are practiced in a hot studio are Vinyasa yoga and Moksha yoga. You can do any style to get the benefits of hot yoga.
For hot yoga classes the room heat is raised up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit, this raises the humidity of the room and makes you sweat buckets. As we will see this has many advantages (and also things to be careful about.)
Benefits of Hot Yoga
Lets look at the benefits of hot yoga you can expect when you do a regular hot yoga workout.
Often when people think of yoga they think of the flexibility of expert yogis. Hot yoga gives this a boost.
The heat warms up your muscles which makes them more flexible and less likely to be injured. This will allow you to give them a deeper stretch, safely.
As your muscles will be loose, it will also increase the range of motion of joints. This will help your posture and body alignment.
Many of our aches and pains come from stiff muscles and poor posture from sitting all day in front of a computer screen. Hot yoga will balance and correct your posture and loosen your stiff muscles and joints.
If you do sport, you will notice and improved performance as well.
Holding the yoga poses and moving from one to another increases your strength and helps build muscle.
Yoga focuses on movements that need a strong core, which is essential for strength and posture. You cannot balance and hold postures for long if you do not have a robust core.
Although there are other more effective way to build strength, like lifting weights, supporting your own body weight is still a fantastic way to get strong. Especially when you have the added difficulty of a hot environment.
Increased Sweat and Detoxification
Out of all the benefits’ of hot yoga, it’s likely, sweating is at the top of most peoples list.
Sweating has many benefits in addition to it’s cooling effect on our body.
There are differing opinions if sweating detoxifies your body. Some say not at all others think it does.
However, there have been studies that show people who exercise regularly (therefore sweat) have lower level of harmful metals in their body.
It also seems to have an impact of getting rid of harmful bacteria.
But you don’t need to worry about what the studies say, we all feel great after sweating, it’s physically and mentally rejuvenating.
And after a good sweat, we drink more water, this is a good thing for many reasons.
Doing yoga in a heated environment will elevate your heart rate, giving you a cardiovascular workout. You will notice your endurance has improved when you do other activities.
A healthier heart and increased blood circulation through your body will improve your blood pressure if you practice consistently.
Stress Reduction and Mental Focus
Keeping your focus and holding postures while in a heated room is no easy task. A few sessions of hot yoga will improve your mental focus significantly. Your day to day tasks will seem much easier in comparison.
When you are focused you are mindful and in the present, this reduces your stress levels. So regular practice will give you better stress management in your life.
Add the breathing techniques and you have a powerful way to reduce stress and improve mental clarity.
The mental focus is one of the often ignored benefits of hot yoga.
During a hot yoga class you are doing both physical movement and negotiating the heat. Both of which burn calories.
However, that is not the biggest reason you will lose weight in the long run. The biggest reasons are it increases your metabolism and helps put on muscle, which will also increase your metabolic rate. Muscle burns more calories, so you will be burning calories while you go about your day.
Something you should also not overlook is that a being part of a hot yoga class encourages a healthier lifestyle and diet choices.
Heat expands blood vessels, improving circulation. This increases blood flow which delivers more oxygen and nutrients to muscles.
You will notice you do not feel sore after yoga class, or much less your you would expect, this is because of the increased blood flow. It also helps with recovery from other exercise or hard labour you engage in.
Increased blood flow also boosts your energy levels and improves other bodily functions.
A major component of yoga is correct breathing and breath control. Hot yoga makes this even more challenging and therefore more beneficial.
The hot conditions will challenge your lung capacity. To get through the session you will have to be even more mindful of your breath control. This will improve your oxygen intake and efficiency.
This mindfulness will not only reduce your current stress, but it will teach you how to keep your breathing steady in any stressful situation.
Better Balance and Coordination
Yoga develops and improves proprioception (body position awareness), leading to better balance.
And because it strengthens stabilizing muscles, it will aid in injury prevention and improve your coordination and reflexes.
This is why martial artistes often practice yoga as supplement to their fight training.
Enhanced Immune System
The increase in blood flow during a hot yoga session will improve your immune function in the long run.
Although cortisol will rise when you are doing the hot yoga as natural and healthy response to the heat, after the class your cortisol will be lower. Lower cortisol means a better immune system.
You will also find you sleep better, a regular good nights sleep is essential for a healthy immune system.
Again, the healthy life style that you are more likely to engage in will also benefit your immunity.
Studies have shown that practicing hot yoga regularly can reduce mild symptoms of depression.
Researchers believe this might be due the lowering affect of hot yoga on inflammation in the body. Inflammation is a key contributor to depression.
There is also the social element. If you are around like minded people who are positive then you are going to pick up some of those good vibes.
And the the recurring theme of better lifestyle pops it’s head up again. If your lifestyle and diet improve your inflammation will also improve.
Reduces Blood Glucose
Hot yoga is shown to reduce blood glucose levels in older overweight adults. But not in young lean people.
Yoga in a hot environment might be a beneficial addition if you are in the first group.
Improves Bone Density
Holding your body weight and moving through different ranges of motion will improve your bone density.
Bone is not a solid inert thing, it is alive and changes when pressure is put upon it. Your bones will adopt to the pressure hot yoga places on them.
A hot yoga session will open your pores and cleanse your skin. And the extra blood flow will give you colour and nutrients that will improve it’s elasticity and health.
Things To Know Before Starting Hot Yoga
Before you start hot yoga keep in mind that it is challenging. Even if you have done yoga before, the heat makes a big difference.
If you are new to yoga, the combination of the postures and the heat will test you.
Go into your first class with this in mind and you won’t get a shock.
The good news is, you will get used to it after a few lessons, although it will still be challenging, you will settle in and get the hang of it. You bodily will acclimatize.
Also, yoga classes are friendly and let you go at your own pace, they are a great environment to be. Be comforted that you will have a friendly yoga instructor to help you.
Manage your expectation of the benefits of hot yoga….
Another things is to manage your expectation of the results. Especially if you are doing it for weight loss.
Although hot yoga is great for weight loss, the main thing that will help you lose weight in a significant way is your diet.
For me there are bigger reasons to do hot yoga (it’s great for overall physical and mental health) than weight loss. If you focus on those you will not be discouraged and the weight loss will eventually come.
Safety and Who Should Not Do Hot Yoga
The first thing you need to be aware of is the potential for dehydration. All the sweating means you will need to drink plenty of water, before, during and after hot yoga sessions.
If you feel dizzy and nauseous, this is a sign you need to stop and hydrate yourself.
Also be aware, in the heat your muscles and joints will feel loose and relaxed, don’t let this lead you to getting overconfident and pushing yourself too hard. Take it slowly and you won’t get injured.
Finally, if you feel light headed (not dizzy, which could be a sign of low blood pressure), it does not mean anything is wrong, it’s your body reacting to the heat. Take a break or get yourself into a more solid stance until it passes and have a drink of water. If it gets extreme speak to a professional.
Avoid Hot Yoga or Speak to Your Doctor If…
If you are pregnant definitely seek medical advice as it can be harmful to raise your body temperature to high.
Also speak to your doctor or health care advisor if you have high blood pressure or heart disease.
Exercise and a warmer climate are generally healthy for people with asthma, however if you severe asthma or or are concerned get advice before starting.
Also take advice if you have injuries. Injuries do not have to stop you. You may still be able to practice hot yoga by avoiding certain movements and postures. In fact the heat will help you recover, if you approach it correctly.
What You Need to Practice Hot Yoga
Lets start by saying what you don’t need, and that’s a full stomach!
You can have a small snack an hour or so before, but do not have anything that won’t digest quickly.
Ok, lets get what you will need…
Take enough bottled water with you. Be extra prepared and take more than you think. If this is your first time, you will be surprised how much you sweat.
Take your non -slip yoga mat. You will also need a towel to use during practice. I recommend taking a second towel just in case the first one gets too drenched.
Wear clothes that are comfortable and allow you enough room for movement, but are also not warm. Athletic gear that lets your skin breathe is perfect.
You don’t want to leave the yoga studio in your sweaty clothes as the outside air will make you feel a chill. So take an extra pair of clothes to change into.
And after yoga class take a warm shower as soon as you can to avoid skin problems.
How to Look After Your Skin If You Do Hot Yoga
As we have seen hot yoga has benefits for your skin. however, there can be a a lack of fresh air in hot yoga studios, couple this with the intense workout you get, it can have a negative impact on your skin.
Here are some ways to avoid skin issues…
Hydration is key. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your yoga session to keep your skin hydrated from the inside out.
Wear Moisture-Wicking Clothing
Choose yoga attire made from breathable, moisture-wicking materials. This helps to prevent irritation from sweat-soaked clothes sticking to your skin.
Cleanse Skin Before and After:
Make sure to cleanse your skin before the session to remove any makeup or lotions that might clog pores. After the session, cleanse again to remove sweat and bacteria to prevent acne and rashes.
Use Non-Comedogenic Products
If you apply any skincare products before yoga, ensure they are non-comedogenic (won’t clog pores). This is especially important in a hot yoga environment where pores open up more due to the heat.
Avoid Heavy Make-up
Wearing heavy makeup during hot yoga can clog pores and lead to breakouts.
Bring Your Own Mat and Towel
This helps to avoid exposure to bacteria and germs from shared equipment which can cause skin issues.
Moisturize After Cleansing
After showering, apply a gentle moisturizer to help soothe and rehydrate your skin.
Avoid Hot Showers Right After
Hot showers can further dry out your skin. Opt for a lukewarm shower instead.
Consider a Protective Barrier
For those with sensitive skin, a light, non-comedogenic barrier cream or gel can be applied to areas prone to irritation.
Listen to Your Skin
If you notice any adverse reactions like excessive dryness, rashes, or breakouts, adjust your skincare routine accordingly.
Conclusion: Benefits of Hot Yoga
Hot yoga is a term used for any style of yoga that people practice in a heated room. It varies, but most classes heat the room up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit.
Hot yoga has many health benefits for your physical and mental health. It reduces stress, improves mild symptoms of depression and helps with cardiovascular health.
If used with a healthy diet it can also help with weight loss and strength. The increase in blood flow from the heat will help your skin look more vibrant and supple.
It will also improve your balance and ordination, and because it works your core muscles, it will give you excellent posture.
Hot yoga is safe to practice, however if you have high blood pressure, heart disease, asthma or are pregnant take professional medical advice before beginning.
Remember, start slow, have realistic expectations and enjoy the experience and reap the hot yoga benefits.
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