International Day of Yoga is June 21, so what better way to celebrate than learning about a new form of yoga? You have probably heard of hot yoga, but might be wary to commit to such a seemingly intense practice. Hot yoga has been around for years and has been a beneficial tool for physical, mental, and spiritual connection. Learn about hot yoga health benefits, poses, and tips to make this a regular part of your practice!
What is Hot Yoga?
As the name implies, hot yoga is the practice of yoga in a heated setting. Hot yoga sessions are typically more vigorous and intense than the average yoga practice. There are many ways to experience hot yoga, whether you are attending a class of practicing on your own at home. Many use hot yoga as a way to connect with their bodies physically, mentally, or spiritually.
Bikram Yoga is the most common way to practice, where rooms are heated to 105°F (40°C) with 40% humidity. In this practice, 26 hot yoga poses are performed to activate muscles and increase blood circulation throughout the body.
Outside of a class, you can easily practice hot yoga on your own. Either in a heated room or in a home sauna, solo hot yoga is a wonderful way to connect with your body and learn its limits without pushing it too far.
Benefits of Hot Yoga
Aided Weight Loss
Just like with infrared saunas, the heat of hot yoga boosts heart rate, and therefore increases metabolic rate to burn more calories. Increased calorie burn teamed up with water weight loss from sweating result in higher weight loss.
Applied heat helps relax muscles and reduce pain, and hot yoga promotes a focus on proper breathing technique. These help calm both your body and mind to reduce stress. Serotonin levels are also boosted by hot yoga to improve mood.
Just like with infrared sauna detoxification, hot yoga helps detoxify the body through sweat. As heat is increased, sweat glands are stimulated and your body eliminates toxins and other harmful buildup that has accumulated over time.
Enhanced Lung Capacity
Because hot yoga places such a large emphasis on deep breathing techniques that expand lungs, your lungs can be trained to take in more air. Deep breathing and enhanced lung capacity allow your body to take in more oxygen, as well.
Being active in yoga increases your circulation, and adding in the element of heat increases it even more. During your hot yoga sessions, your heart rate should be between 60-80% of your maximum heart rate to feel cardiovascular benefits.
Even if you don’t consider yourself particularly flexible, hot yoga can help. The heat helps warm up muscles and joints to make mobility and flexibility easier. The slow and deep stretches in hot yoga also help increase flexibility over time.
Similarly to increased flexibility, the heat during hot yoga helps lessen tension in muscles and joints to reduce the chance of injury. On top of that, the increased blood flow aids in healing injuries quicker in the event of an injury.
Strengthened Immune System
Yoga can increase immune cell counts and antibodies. Added with heat that increases the body’s immune response and a reduction of cortisol, a stress hormone that weakens the immune system, hot yoga can help prevent and reduce illness.
Hot Yoga Tips
Be Mindful of Your Body’s Limits
As mentioned earlier, practicing hot yoga poses can increase your flexibility. While it might feel great in the moment, keep in mind just how far your body can realistically go and how it will feel once the effects of heat wear off.
Bring Extra Towels
Chances are, you’ll sweat a lot during your hot yoga session. Be prepared for the extra moisture by bringing towels to keep yourself and equipment dry. Working on a slippery yoga mat can be uncomfortable and a safety hazard during class.
Do Hot Yoga in a Sauna
Boost the benefits of hot yoga by practicing in an infrared sauna. Both infrared saunas and hot yoga offer the health benefits of detoxification, weight loss, flexibility, and reduced stress. Doing hot yoga in a sauna is the perfect scenario!
Because hot yoga poses are more involved and vigorous than your average yoga class, it’s important to fuel your body before your hot yoga session. Eat a healthy meal about 2-4 hours before your session to avoid cramps, nausea, or fatigue.
One of the main focuses of hot yoga is honing in on your breath. Breathing exercises help bring you to a state of mindfulness and concentration, which can help you push through the heat of your hot yoga session and get comfortable.
Sweating is great for purging toxins, but can be dangerous if you don’t hydrate before and after practicing hot yoga. Drink water, replenish your electrolytes, and put moisturizer on your skin to ensure your body doesn’t lose any hydration.
Use High-Quality Equipment
From the clothes you wear and the yoga mat you use to the space you’re practicing in, making sure you use the proper equipment and high-quality materials is important for your safety and comfort during any hot yoga session.
For this year’s International Day of Yoga, expand your practice by adding in a hot yoga session or two. Whether you practice in a class or on your own, you’ll experience the many benefits of hot yoga and find a new way to connect with yourself mindfully, spiritually, and physically.