I just got into a love/hate relationship with hot yoga. In Sanskrit hot yoga is called Bikram. However, Bikram yoga consists of the same poses over and over again. The class I went to was a vinyasa flow plus the heat so not exactly Bikram.
“Wow,” is really all I could say but I’m going to try to put some more words to it. First of all, I have never sweat more in my life. That’s saying a lot considering I played soccer all my life, year round. On the East Coast, summers can sometimes reach 90 degrees and running around for an hour and a half in 90 degree weather = sweaty…but not to the level of sweaty that hot yoga took me to. For me, sweaty is usually not good. I do not like being too hot, but in this case I didn’t mind because the heat had benefits!
The flow of the class was a little faster than what I’m used to but I felt I was able to do a lot more than I usually can. By this, I mean that my body seemed to open up in ways that it hadn’t before. I’ve been practicing crow pose on and off for a couple months now and can never get it down…until I tried in the hot yoga class! I was able to balance for a couple of seconds. And, as I mentioned, this class was a little faster paced than what I’m used to but I was able to keep up for the most part. After the class I even did some yoga on my own. I practiced my wheel and was able to get my leg almost parallel to my hips. I feel that if I mix hot yoga into my weekly yoga schedule I will start to see a lot more benefits.
What are the known benefits of hot yoga?
As many of us know, heavy sweating is a way of detoxing your body. Many people use jacuzzis, saunas, etc. to help when they are detoxing. Sweating is even a big part of detoxing used in rehab. So of course, sweating while doing yoga helps to detox as well.
Opening up the muscles.
Generally, you should stretch before a workout to help warm up your muscles so you don’t get any injuries. This is why in yoga, you usually start with simple stretching poses, heart openers, etc. before heading into anything more advanced. When you add heat to stretching it allows your muscles to open even more. This allows you to literally stretch your body a little more than you can usually do. You can test your limits (but still know your limits). This is why I was able to get into crow pose for a little and still feel well stretched afterwards to do some yoga on my own.
Preparing for hot yoga.
1. Be sure to drink a lot of water before going to a hot yoga class and of course afterwards. It’s also good to have a bottle by your mat.
2. Have a towel at hand. You will sweat.. a lot! I can’t emphasize this enough. I do not sweat a lot at all and I was dripping in sweat! The towel helps you to make sure your hands, feet, and any other part of your body stabilizing you on the mat are not going to skip. You do not want to get injured.
3. Go in with opened mind. There is no winning in yoga. You can go at your own pace. If you feel you need to slow down, slow down. If you need to take a break, take a break. I believe it is good to push yourself, but it’s more important to know your limits! You want to be able to come away from the class wanting more, not regretting going because you “couldn’t keep up” or hurt yourself.
I’ll be doing more “hot” yoga during the three months that I’m in Australia during their summer! It’s definitely something I suggest getting into.