Hot Yoga- Let’s Heat Take Over the Traditional Practice
For centuries, yoga has served the purpose of spiritual development through meditation. But with passing days, it has evolved into a form of exercise in which focus has shifted from meditation to different asanas or postures involved. In an exercise mode, Yoga is famously known for improving flexibility in the body but there are other different yoga forms that you might be interested to know, such as hot yoga a.k.a Bikram.
Hot yoga is a famed fitness-oriented yoga form that is performed by practitioners with increased temperature and humidity level in a studio. Just like traditional yoga, it is believed to offer a host of benefits related to fat burning and flexibility improvement. But with an added factor of heat, this yoga form has the ability to give you a high-intensity workout you might have been craving for.
Obesity in the USA has emerged as a giant issue and 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest that to curb this problem, people need to consume fewer calories and do more exercise.
If you are interested to know more about hot yoga and how it can transform your workout and fitness regime, then keep reading because we have a lot to tell you.
What is Hot Yoga?
You may have repeatedly heard the term "Bikram yoga" as it is quite often used interchangeably with hot yoga but both are not exactly the same. Bikram yoga was initially developed by a yogi named Bikram Choudhury in 1970. The room is meant to be set at 105 degrees Fahrenheit temperature and a humidity level of 40 percent has to be maintained.
It may strike you that why one has to perform yoga in a hot, humid room when every yoga narrative is posture-centric. Well, the heat here performs the role of catalyst that enables an environment for an intense workout by allowing muscles to lose and heart rate to increase. Bikram yoga session usually lasts for 90 minutes where a yogi has to perform 26 poses followed by two breathing exercises.
How hot yoga is different from Bikram yoga? Unlike Bikram, you practice hot yoga under a temperature that is above than normal room temperature. The temperature can be set anywhere between 80 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit. A hot yoga session can inculcate a variety of postures, and interestingly unlike Bikram, which is performed in a quiet environment, hot yoga is often an interactive class between yogis.
Once greatly famous, Bikram yoga, has recently lost many followers after assault allegations surfaced against its creator. Due to this, many studios replaced their name from Bikram to hot yoga to conduct their heated classes. Though the main idea revolves around Bikram yoga, heated yoga classes have continued to attract a vast number of people where several other yoga forms are also conducted.
The Usefulness of Hot Yoga
Irrespective of the room temperature, hot yoga aims to provide you much-needed relaxation along with other physical benefits.
Yoga is a word that needs no introduction and almost everyone knows about its effectiveness. Just by adding a heat factor, you can take it to a challenging level and can reap the benefits like never before. Though its followers assert that this form of yoga has stronger benefits than any other form but studies have discredited this belief. Still, with an added element of heat, there are some things more profound that can be achieved. Let's see what are some of the areas you can progress exclusively using the hot yoga technique if done properly and safely.
1. Increased Flexibility
Though the increase in flexibility has remained a focal point of traditional yoga but if performed within a heated room, burning of calories and increase in flexibility will be twofold. According to a study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, a single 90-minute session of Bikram for young, fit, and skilled practitioners yields a moderate metabolic response, vigorous heart rate response, and noticeably higher body temperature.
Heat plays a major part in the mechanism of our body. Increasing one’s body temperature also escalates the rate of metabolism.
Do you know that stretching after warming up your muscles is much effective and safer than with cold muscles? Heat plays an important part by allowing you to stretch a little further and to accomplish a greater range of motions. A study found that after 8 weeks of practicing Bikram yoga, participants noted enhanced flexibility in the lower back, hamstrings, and shoulders area.
If you are interested to know more about the benefits that stretching can bring to you then read Stretching: Focus on flexibility
2. Burns Extra Calories
According to researchers at Colorado State University, one session of Bikram yoga can burn as many calories as 460 in men and 330 in women. Hot yoga, though a little less intense, is believed to help in burning more calories than traditional yoga. Look at other activities and the number of calories they burn with a one-hour session in the graph below.
Source: Mayo Clinic
4. Boost in Cardiovascular Health
Though yoga overall boosts your cardiovascular health but performing different postures in high heat creates a stimulating workout for your kidneys, lungs, and heart. A good number of people might proclaim that your body detoxes due to a lot of sweating which is not right actually. Your body detoxes through the liver and kidneys and not through your skin, so hot yoga has no direct link to having you release toxins. Rather through cardiovascular boost with a hot yoga class and by drinking a lot of water flushes away toxins from your body. The scientific outlook on “sweating is detoxifying” is varied. Some studies propose that sweating aids in detoxifying harmful toxins whereas others argue that even if that happens then the quantity released is too small to matter.
What You Should Expect from Hot Yoga Class
Firstly, what really separates hot yoga from regular yoga is the word ‘hot’. You should expect a lot of sweat by all means. The temperature will be between 80-100 degrees Fahrenheit coupled with an increased humidity level. This will obviously raise your core body temperature but it’s up to you in which direction you want this experience to head. Heat and sweat will allow you to pace yourself and focus on the workout more which will give you greater outcomes.
Hot yoga is a vigorous form of yoga performed in a very warm and humid studio. There are many different types of hot yoga classes. During the Bikram form of hot yoga, the room is heated to approximately 105 F (40 C) and has a humidity of 40 percent.
Source: What is Hot Yoga?
Worrying about how you’ll perform is what will affect your focus and you'll lose concentration on breathing and posture. So, if you are not in a mood to go to a class, take a break and remind yourself that only with proper concentration, you are going to get closer to your goal.
Warm-up in a hot yoga class will be shorter than other yoga classes. All thanks to the hot temperature in the room, due to which your muscles will take less time to warm up. After that, you will go through series of yoga poses depending on the type of yoga class. For instance, apart from Bikram, vinyasa and ashtanga are also offered in hot yoga, so moves will depend on the yoga type. Expect the class to last from 60-90 minutes and unlike other yoga classes, where an instructor performs alongside the participants; in this yoga class, a teacher will only pass on the instructions.
This shouldn't come as a surprise that with a high temperature in the room, there will be safety concerns attached. Because your muscles will be so flexible due to heat that you may overstretch them to injury. Plus, you will be sweating buckets so your chances of dehydration are way more here than any other yoga form. Sports drinks, which are low in calories, may help you get back electrolytes lost during the session.
High temperature can have serious repercussions like sensitivity to heat may put you at the risk of heatstroke. Most importantly, for some people, a hot yoga class is a red zone and the list includes anyone with a cardiac issue and a pregnant woman who is at high risk of endangering her fetus.
Safety Tip: It’s appropriate to consult a physician before starting hot yoga. If you feel woozy and lightheaded, discontinue the exercise right away. Exit the room and rest in a cooler atmosphere until you feel better.
Apparel You Should Choose for a Hot Yoga Class
You are going to indulge in a sweaty environment, so be prepared accordingly. Go for moisture-wicking fabric that will not only keep you cool but will also lick away the sweat. Avoid using cotton material, as it absorbs moisture which means your apparel will grow heavier and this will make you super uncomfortable. That’s why choose a lightweight fabric for a yoga class, like one available at Xn8 Sports, so that your body does not get overheated.
How to Get Ready for a Class
Make up your mind for a workout in a challenging environment because preparedness will keep you longer in the game. First and foremost, stay hydrated and keep listening to your body along the way. Before heading towards your class, drink plenty of water. Since you’ll be sweating massively, arriving hydrated won’t let you dehydrate quickly. Along with that, make sure to keep a bottle with you so you can sip throughout the day and especially during the class.
Don’t come to hot yoga class on an empty stomach but try not to eat too much either. Eat something light that can keep you energetic for about an hour session, just enough, so you don’t run out of energy during the period.
Next, pay attention to what your body conveys to you and stop immediately if you think it needs rest. Our body takes time to adjust to anything new introduced to it, therefore, it's advisable to take one step one time and put an end to overdoing. You also opt to choose half sessions initially to get used to the practice and to slowly build the endurance. Just tell your instructor that you might take things slowly so he/she knows when you step out of the class.
You may feel worn out after the first class, but don't give up. It is hard but once you get accustomed to the heat, it becomes rewarding. But don’t forget to buy some yoga essentials, one such is the Xn8 Sports high-quality yoga mat, to help you get started on an amazing journey.
Pilates and Hot Yoga is Not the Same Thing
People often perceive Pilates as a form of hot yoga but that’s not true. Although they share many traits like increased flexibility, concentration on breathing and both are likewise effective strengthening exercises. Pilates, however, is more core-focused and is more about training a small group of muscles. Importantly, unlike yoga, often Pilate exercises are done on machines and are executed mostly on the ground rather than standing for going through different yoga postures.
Tips for a Beginner
Be on Time: Hot yoga classes start on time so it's better to arrive 15 minutes earlier to avoid the awkwardness of being late. If you are a beginner, you may never know how busy the class is going to be. Arriving a little earlier will help you scope out the environment and get the perfect spot for you to practice.
Stay Focused: It's advisable to leave your phone or any other distracting items in your locker. The less the distraction, the better the focus.
Pick a Less Hot Spot: Before starting your session, ask where the hottest part of the room is. For a beginner, it's more appropriate to start where the temperature is not as hot as the rest of the room. This will help them adjust to the temperature and to feel how their bodies react to the heat.
Be a Backbencher: A pro tip for beginners is to sit back in the class. Yes, it's completely okay to be a backbencher sometimes. The instructors mostly don't indulge in the practice but only pass instructions to the class. So if you are a newbie, you may like to know what others are doing in case you don't understand a certain move or posture.
Understand the Terminology: It would be great if you get a general understanding of hot yoga before hitting the class. This won't leave you completely lost once you will be in the class. Try incorporating yoga in your routine for at least 10 minutes daily. Understanding the terminology, basic poses involved in hot yoga, and an idea of the general flow of the session will help you a lot later.
Stop Stressing: Don't stress if you are not following some of the moves exactly like others. Remember, it's your first time here. Just breathe. Yoga requires time, practice, and patience and you are not supposed to master the art right away. Don't get awkward if your instructor comes by your side and adjust your body posture. His job is to help you practice different postures with safety and to make you get comfortable with the flow.
For a hot yoga class, props like yoga blocks can be used to help you get accustomed to the postures and perform them flawlessly.
Keep Breathing: Breathing is the core in any form of yoga, therefore, focus on it the entire time. Teachers in the yoga class will be conscious of your movements and may remind you when to breathe. Still, it will be helpful if you keep checking your breathing throughout the practice as it will aid in releasing tension and to clear your mind.
Due to the intensity of the hot yoga, it may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But if you are a yogi doing regular yoga and might want to take your practice one step further, then you are in the right place.
Though it offers almost the same benefits as regular yoga but you are going to sweat a lot than the yoga performed in a room that is not hot and humid. If you have decided to start practicing hot yoga, then make sure to stay hydrated and wear apparel that will allow the air to pass through it. And one thing more, make your mind for a lot of sweating.
You should avoid it completely if you have heart disease, you’re expecting a baby, or you are suffering from any other serious health condition. Remember the fact that yoga is a practice, and you will keep growing as long as you are determined to learn the art of this. Therefore, keep striving to do better at this skill, whether it’s for your mental relaxation, for sculpting your body, or for any other amazing benefits yoga proposes.