The Benefits of Hot Yoga
As published in Om Yoga and Lifestyle Magazine
The practise of yoga has been around for thousands of years, but has become increasingly popular in the Western word in the last twenty years. There are many styles of yoga, which are practised in many different ways, however all practical forms of yoga focus on physical movement through a series of postures.
One form of yoga that is becoming increasingly popular is Hot Yoga, which is a yoga class which is taught in a warm and humid environment. The warm environment has many reported benefits such as increased muscular relaxation, which aids flexibility and movement. The reduction in muscular tension and increase in movement can lead to a reduction in muscular or postural related pain.
In addition to
- Other reported benefits of yoga
- improved muscular strength and condition,
- increased flexibility, improved posture and
- increased levels of confidence and body awareness.
Many people question how the reported benefits of hot yoga are achieved or if there is a scientific basis for the claims, as many people receive the benefits of yoga practise regardless of room temperature. For example taking part in any form of stretching activity for a period of time will increase muscle length and therefore increase range ofmovement and flexibility. These benefits will then be experienced by the yoga participant as improved movement.
Furthermore, completing a weight bearing posture such as Warrior One or Downward Dog will aid muscular strength, muscular endurance and flexibility within the limbs, hips and shoulders, regardless of room temperature.
Therefore, why are many yoga practitioners being swayed to practise yoga, be it Hatha or Vinyasa based, within the heat?
A key justification for this could be down to increased levels of superficial and deep muscular relaxation and increased levels of muscular pliability which can be received through increased temperature.
For instance, many of us will have a memory of laying on a beach, feeling the warm sun and sand around your body and feeling relaxed with little muscular tension. A similar response of the warm summer sun is often experienced when you lower yourself into a warm bath.
This type of relaxation response is achieved through a trigger in the nervous system. When the nerve receptors within the skin pick up warm external temperature signals, a relaxation response is experienced within the muscule. This relaxation response is, in part, a triggered by an increase in blood delivered to the muscule through a process known as vasodilation.
Vasodilation has multiple benefits such as increasing blood supply to the warm muscles and helping to maintain core body temperature through increased levels of perspiration. In addition, increased levels of blood to the working muscles help the body to become more efficient during exercise or yoga practce, as blood cells carry increased levels of nutrients and oxygen.
When muscles are warm and have a good blood supply they are also more pliable. This means that the muscles can stretch to a greater degree without discomfort or increased risk of injury.
During traditional yoga
For example, due to the increased room
Many people report that they experience weight loss as a result of hot yoga
During a hot yoga
Therefore, some yoga practitioners may find that they burn more calories during a hot yoga class, compared to that of a traditional class. Over time this may result in additional weight loss. Other considerations should be taken into account though, such as the duration of the class and the intensity of yoga
It’s important though to remain hydrated during a hot yoga class
as the room temperature will increase the risk of dehydration and heat stroke. Both will have a negative effect on your experience of yoga and ability to practise yoga during the class. In the latter case mild heat stoke may affect you for the next couple of days. Therefore; ensure that you are hydrated before entering a hot yoga class and sip water throughout the class.
As you get used to hot yoga your body will learn and adapt to the environment, which may mean that you don’t need to sip water as often.
Most importantly listen to your body and take action as necessary, to ensure that you gain a fulfilled and enjoyable experience from hot yoga
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McArdle, W., Katch, F., & Katch, V. (2007). Exercise Physiology
Thibodeau, G., & Patton, K. (2007). Anatomy & Physiology