The Benefits of Hot Yoga
Do you know what is so hot right now? Hot yoga.
Hot yoga is a popular mind/ body practice. You may enjoy hot yoga for its many benefits, from easing spinal tension and increasing awareness to better breathing habits. Read on to learn more about the benefits of hot yoga!
What Is Hot Yoga?
The first heated yoga studio may date back to 1970s Japan when Bikram Choudhury experimented with the addition of heat to his yoga rooms. His “traditional” style of hot yoga with 26 postures two special breathing exercises— sometimes known as Bikram Yoga— has recently fallen out of favor. Bikram is accused of numerous cases of sexual misconduct and even rape. He’s reaped countless dollars from his yoga students for his “teacher training” programs and has fled the country.
As studios shy away from the controversy surrounding the Bikram name, they also take liberty in how they structure classes shifting the direction of this growing practice.
Traditional Hot yoga is practiced for 90-minutes in a studio heated to 105° F, with 40 percent added humidity.
Some of the standard Hot yoga poses include:
- Standing forehead to knee pose (Dandayamana-Janushirasana)
- Hot style tree (Vriksasana)
- Balancing stick (Tuladandasana)
- Standing separate leg forehead to knee (Dandayamana Bibhaktapada Janushirasana)
Silence is encouraged throughout any yoga class, and (in some classes), the instructors do not adjust the students. The mirrors in your Hot yoga class help you achieve better alignment, as these classes focus on safety. In some cases, instructors may offer hands-on adjustments to help participants achieve proper form. It is not uncommon to have a teacher assist you in deepening a posture.
You may practice hot yoga (like heated power vinyasa) in a hot room — the temperature ranges from 80 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Heated vinyasa classes run between 60 and 90 minutes long.
Read this article for more info on what is hot yoga.
What Are The Benefits of Hot Yoga?
1. Hot Yoga Makes You Sweat
Your body produces sweat to cool you down when your body temperature gets too hot.
But don’t let your scale fool you. Most of the weight you lose in heated yoga is water weight, so fill up on water after class to avoid dehydration. One study showed that participants who took a one-hour hot yoga class lost one percent of their body mass through sweat!
Maintain a keen awareness of how you are feeling throughout class. Your instructor should be well trained to notice the signs of heat exhaustion. If at any time you think you are overheated, you can always take a breather or step outside the room to recuperate.
2. Hot Yoga Burns Calories
It is still undetermined whether or not hot yoga burns more calories than regular yoga.
A study from Colorado State University measured the metabolic rate of hot yoga practitioners for over 90-minutes in a studio heated to 105° F. They found that male participants burn 460 calories, and female students burned 330 calories on average in a traditional hot yoga class.
3. Hot Yoga May Boost Your Mood
Exercise, stretching, and deep breathing may help to improve your mood.
Certain types of hot yoga may help strengthen the body and improve balance.
Any form of yoga, as long as it’s a consistent practice, may decrease the production of the stress hormone cortisol and increase a sense of well-being.
4. Hot Yoga May Increase Your Flexibility
Ever sit in a sauna and notice how much easier it is to reach for your toes? When your muscles are warm, they are more relaxed.
Studies found that the participants who took hot yoga classes had increased flexibility in their hamstrings, lower back, and shoulders. However, when your muscles are very warm, you may experience a false sense of flexibility. Be mindful not to overstretch.
5. Hot Yoga Provides different breathing techniques not found in other yoga classes
For most postures, you’ll breathe normally, but for some specific poses, instructors may guide you through Pranayama (breathing) practices.
Standing Deep Breathing (Pranayama)
With a straight spine and bent elbows, interlace your fingers at your chin. Breathe in slowly with the count filling your lungs while lifting your elbows by your ears. The back of your hands will cradle your chin. As you exhale, draw your elbows down to touch, tilting your head back at the end of the exhale.
The standing deep breathing technique is very posture dependent. Follow your teacher’s instructions carefully to achieve the intended effect.
Ujjayi Breathing (breath of fire)
Breathe in through your nose and out through your nose. Connect one posture to one movement. Ujjayi is a restricted breath that builds heat and mental concentration.
Inhale and hold the posture, allow roughly 20 percent of the air to escape as you exhale. Don’t fully exhale. Instead, refill your lungs to capacity completing the cycle. Return to Ujjayi as you come out of the posture.
With your legs folded underneath you (in easy seat), sit up tall with a straight spine. Extend your arms and push down into your legs. Blow sharply (through your mouth)over and over again as if you were repeatedly blowing out a candle. With each exhale, contract your belly.
Kapalbhati breath is also a warming breath that cleanses the sinuses and fills the lungs.
If you are a mommy-to-be, avoid this style of breathing!
6. Hot yoga is excellent for spinal mobility
As we age, inflammation of the bones and joints can restrict our movement.
Studies show that even as little as seven days of intensive yoga-based practice reduced pain-related disability and improved spinal flexibility over a standard exercise regimen in subjects with chronic low-back pain.
Further studies support the recommendation of applied yoga exercises for increased spinal mobility regardless of age.
How Often Should You Do Hot Yoga?
As yogis, we recommend everything in moderation.
Too many days in a row of heated yoga, when you are not accustomed to it, may dehydrate you (causing headaches and muscle soreness).
Breaking up your days will give your muscles and joints ample time for recovery and give you a chance to rehydrate properly.
If you sit in a chair every day, you may enjoy hot yoga because it helps you move your spine in every direction. The benefits of compression, flexion, and lateral spinal movements are many and safely done often!