If the terms Chaturanga and Warrior Pose already mean something to you, then you have at least a passing familiarity with the benefits of yoga. What may be new to some is the idea of “hot yoga,” a relatively recent twist to this popular core-strengthening and mind-balancing exercise.
What is Hot Yoga?
Simply put, it’s yoga… practiced in a hot, humid environment. The ambient temperature is raised to shorten the period of time that it takes muscles to warm up for optimal flexibility. Formally known as Bikram Yoga, it is a type of yoga that is performed in a space heated to 105 degrees with 40 percent humidity.
Hot yoga is not just about temperature. It’s about humidity.
Sweat needs to evaporate from your skin in order to cool it. By adding humidity, sweat doesn’t evaporate as fast, causing your muscle tissue to stay warmer, and your body to work harder. This leads to a faster, more efficient workout. Kind of like “extra strength” yoga.
What are the Benefits of Hot Yoga?
You may be thinking, isn’t it enough to twist myself into a Lotus Position in a regular room? Now I have to add heat?
A hot yoga instructor would tell you the short answer to that is: yes – heat adds a unique element to the wellness activity and your healthy lifestyle.
Veteran Chicago area yoga instructor Marlene Stotz says, “Hot yoga changes the equation. When your joints are warmer, you can stretch longer and farther. You’re really able to sink into those poses, and that definitely increases flexibility.”
So, what is hot yoga good for? In addition to increased flexibility, other benefits of hot yoga include improved strength. “Because you can hold hot yoga poses longer, your muscles are working harder and you get the added benefit of increased strength,” says the group fitness instructor and Diamond Beachbody coach.
A warm, moist environment also adds the element of detoxification, brought about by both sweating and exhalation. Since humidity prevents sweat from evaporating, which in turn prevents cooling… your body sweats more, and thus purges more toxins than in a non-humid space.
Exhaling also brings detoxification. “Deep breathing is so important in yoga. Adding moist heat to the routine makes you breathe more deeply. This not only increases detoxification, but also increases focus and mental clarity,” Marlene says.
This is where MrSteam comes in…
If you’re thinking to yourself, “Hey, this sounds a lot like the benefit of steam," you are absolutely right. Hot yoga benefits mesh well with the benefits of steam, including flexibility, strength, breathing, cardio, detox, focus and healing.
Post-workout, head for your steam room. You'll go from 40% humidity to 100% humidity with temperature ranges from 100 to 120 degrees F.
Add in warm ChromaTherapy lighting – maybe green to promote harmony, or soft yellow for awakening (depending on your mood), plus perhaps a calming lavender AromaTherapy scent, and your favorite tunes piped in via iSteam’s audio streaming system.
How to get started with the wellness benefits of Hot Yoga?
Here are a few simple tips to get you started with Hot Yoga…
- Start slow and keep it short. As with anything new, it’s important to pace yourself and ease into this exercise. Figure out how much your body can handle in the heat, and stop immediately if you begin to feel dizzy or overly fatigued.
- Wear shower shoes or other non-slip footwear so you can get a firm grip on the floor.
- Focus on your poses. There’s a yoga saying that 99% right is 100% wrong. So go slow to get it right. Let the steam soak in and make your poses perfect.
- Hydrate. Increased perspiration means you’ll need increased hydration. Keep a water bottle nearby.
- Check with your doctor before getting started to make sure the extra exertion of hot yoga is right for you. Discuss the pros and cons of what hot yoga does for your body.
- Time your workouts to enhance your day. You’ll get a mental boost from steamy hot yoga, so doing it before you really need to concentrate may change your day for the better.
- Relax. Breathe in and breathe out. Namaste, friends.