Hot yoga brings you all the benefits of traditional yoga with a cherry on top. It’s popular and designed to be a more intense, vibrant workout without losing the deep relaxation benefits you expect from your usual yoga session. But what is hot yoga? And why should you give it a go? It’s time to turn up the heat (pun fully intended) and dive into our complete guide.
What is Hot Yoga?
Hot yoga basically means the room is heated above normal temperature, typically between 27 and 38°C. Lots of poses are included and there isn’t a set format. What the session looks like will largely depend on the instructor but they it can range from following the same sequence of poses every time, to more fluid Vinyasa flows and soft Yin classes. And hot yoga is becoming increasingly popular, which isn’t surprising. With all the benefits of usual yoga and more, hot yoga is something to try. But before we dive into that, let’s take a look at the history of Hot Yoga.
The History of Hot Yoga: Bikram Yoga
One particular type of hot yoga, and the practice that started it all, is Bikram yoga. Bikram Yoga was brought to life by Bikram Choudhury in Japan in the 1970s. Whilst teaching his yoga classes, he became intrigued by the saunas his students would enjoy during their lunch breaks. That’s when he started experimenting with heaters in his yoga room.
Bikram yoga has a more structured format – the room is heated to 41°C with 40% humidity (in the UK most rooms which aren’t air conditioned would almost double this naturally) and there are 26 poses combined with two breathing exercises. These classes and their structures all follow a defined pattern each and every time. Bikram noticed that his students exerted themselves more in the heat and, therefore, had a better workout. But that’s not the only benefit – here are a few more.
Benefits of Hot Yoga
Hot yoga brings all of the benefits of traditional yoga, with the additional advantage of the added heat. There are two aims with hot yoga: physical fitness combined with mental relaxation. Here’s what you can get out of it:
Much like you warm-up before exercise to enable greater flexibility and safety for your muscles, the ambient temperature of hot yoga can enable you to safely achieve greater flexibility than usually. One study revealed that 8 weeks of hot yoga led to greater flexibility in the hamstrings, lower back and shoulders.
Super calorie burner
It often surprises people that yoga can be so effective at burning calories. A regular one hour session of hatha yoga (what you probably think of in terms of a classic yoga session) will burn 202 calories for a 160 lb individual. That same individual will burn 511 calories if they choose to spend the hour doing hot yoga instead.
Stress busting Yoga
Yoga is known for its benefits for the mind. With hot yoga, it’s been shown that it has a really positive effect on reducing an individual’s negative experience of stress. Yoga really is a physical and mental wellbeing wonder and these benefits apply to hot yoga too. It’s been shown to help reduce the symptoms of depression.
Did you know that your bones actually need to be used if you want them to be stronger? The different yoga poses require different bones to support your weight and this can support bone density. Research shows that Bikram yoga helps women increase bone density in their lower back, hips and neck leading many to believe it is helpful for reducing the risk of osteoporosis.
Gets your heart working out
Hot yoga is much more like a cardio workout and gets your heart pumping at a higher rate which boosts its fitness over time. This aerobic exercise can help prevent heart disease and reduce blood pressure. Hot yoga is like a brisk walk as far as your heart is concerned, and that’s good stuff. What’s more, this type of exercise can also help reduce blood glucose levels, helping you to stave off type 2 diabetes.
What Else Do You Need to Know About Hot Yoga?
With these wonderful benefits you’ll want to jump right into a hot yoga class. However, just make sure you check out the following advice first:
Hydration: Drink plenty of water before, during and after your session. You’re going to sweat, a lot.
Your health: Check out if any pre-existing health condition put you at risk of fainting in hot environments. It may be worth a quick chat with your GP.
Pregnant women: We don’t recommend hot yoga for pregnant women.
If you’re new to hot yoga, take it slowly to start with. A supportive instructor will help you adjust to the heat. If you experience dizziness, nausea or feel lightheaded, step out of the room and cool down for a bit. You are going to sweat and you want breathable clothing. Check out these yoga clothing options. Choose lightweight comfy clothes. You will probably want a yoga mat towel to place over your mat, as well as another towel for mopping your face and hands.
It’s time to take a class
And that’s it; you’re ready to get started with hot yoga and begin to experience the benefits for yourself. Want to try it out in Dorset? Find out more about hot yoga in Poole at The Yoga Studios, near Bournemouth.