Hot Yoga: Benefits and Best Practices
Yoga comes in many styles, all of which, focus on particular poses, known as asanas, breathing techniques and meditative practices that bring the yogi in touch with their mind, body and spirit. All styles of yoga have innumerable benefits for health, and in this article we will focus on one of the most popular varieties, Hot yoga.
Hot yoga is a yoga class that is conducted in a room that is heated to about 105 degrees Fahrenheit and humidified by about 40%. The purpose of doing yoga in a heated room is to induce sweating, amongst other benefits. An increase in sweating promotes weight loss.
Doing hot yoga works to warm the body so that the blood flows more easily while you do the poses. Blood vessels dilate to bring more blood, oxygen and water to the different parts of your body. The increased blood flow helps your muscles limber up. You will feel greater muscle flexibility when you do yoga in a heated room. It’s like having a sauna bath and a workout at the same time.
Two Styles Of Hot Yoga
There are two kinds of ‘hot’ yoga. One is the Bikram hot yoga. This style is quite challenging as there are about 26 separate poses to master. The poses are not simple as Bikram yoga is not for beginners. Bikram yoga is for more experienced yogis. Another example of hot yoga is the Vinyasa style hot yoga. The poses flow so that it feels like you are dancing.
As with any form of physical exercise, practicing yoga regularly and consistently is key to mastering the breathing technique, the poses and to developing strength and agility. You can only observe that you are gaining the health benefits of hot yoga if you practice it regularly.
However, hot yoga is not for everyone. People with sensitivity to humidity may feel their nose running and their throat itching when they do hot yoga. People with heart disease and diabetes are not recommended to do hot yoga as it puts too much exertion on the heart to exercise when overheated. It is best to consult your doctor before you start any yoga regimen. It is best to get a clearance from your doctor to practice hot yoga.
There are risks to hot yoga which you must accept and guard against. For one, when you practice hot yoga, you must increase your fluid intake. You have to drink more water all through the day and drink even more water before, during, and after the practice. You also have to make sure that your blood sugar and salt levels are constant.
Some people recommend drinking coconut water or a sports drink to ensure that you maintain your electrolyte level. Some people recommend taking a snack prior to and immediately after a practice session.
Dieticians recommend fresh fruits and nuts especially bananas which are high in potassium. They also recommend fruits which have high sugar and water content such as watermelons, cantaloupe, apples, oranges and grapes. Drinking fresh fruit juice is also good. However, it is best to stay away from milk, butter and cheese prior to a hot yoga workout. Milk products curd in the stomach and may cause discomforts such as gas.
It is also wise to pace yourself. When exercising with a group, it is easy to get carried away. It is also easy to feel competitive. You might do too much too soon – before your body has accustomed to the rigors of hot yoga. Avoid stretching yourself too far (literally and figuratively). Because of the heated room, most people who practice hot yoga feel limber and agile. As a result, some people feel a surge of confidence and they over stretch their muscles. There is a risk of injury.
It is also best to pay close attention to your body’s signals. If you feel lightheaded or dizzy, if you feel sharp pain in your muscles or a headache, or if you feel nauseated it is probably time to take a break.
When you do take a break, you must do so outside of the heated room. Take as many breaks as you need. Your body will gradually acclimatize to the heat and it will become accustomed to the demands of hot yoga.