Have you heard of hot yoga?
Do you know exactly what it is?
I thought I did, but I wasn’t sure.
Last week a new yoga studio that specializes in hot yoga opened around the corner from me. I had heard you do hot yoga in a super hot room and that didn’t sound like any fun. I wasn’t sure what the benefits of hot yoga would be except that you sweat.
All styles of yoga focus on particular poses, known as asanas, breathing techniques and meditative practices that help you get in touch with your mind, body and spirit. All styles of yoga have innumerable benefits for health.
Hot yoga is a yoga class that is conducted in a room that is heated to about 105 degrees and 40% humidity. The purpose of doing yoga in a heated room is to induce sweating, as I suspected, because an increase in sweating promotes weight loss.
Doing hot yoga works to warm the body so 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 taking a sauna 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 so Bikram yoga is not for beginners. 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 will only see the health benefits that you are gaining through hot yoga if you practice it regularly.
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 shouldn’t do hot yoga because 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.
Dehydration is a risk with hot yoga. 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 your blood sugar and salt levels are where they should be.
Some people recommend drinking coconut water or a sports drink to ensure that you maintain your electrolyte level. Others recommend eating a snack prior to and immediately after a hot yoga 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 squeezed fruit juice is also good. However, it’s best to stay away from any dairy prior to a hot yoga workout. Milk products curd in the stomach and may cause discomforts such as gas.
Pace yourself. When exercising with a group, it’s easy to get carried away. It’s also easy to feel competitive. You might do too much too soon before your body has become accustomed to 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, you may feel a surge of confidence and could over-stretch your muscles. There is a risk of injury.
It’s 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, leave 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.
If this sounds like your kind of yoga, go for it! Make it part of the fitness program for your healthy ageless body as part of your ageless lifestyle after 50.