The beauty of a yoga class is how therapeutic, energizing and strengthening it can be. Why turn up the heat and make it miserable? This is the common feeling toward hot yoga (otherwise known as Bikram).
I don’t blame you, from the outside looking in, going to a practice in a room heated to approximately 100 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit doesn’t sound ideal. However, there are some incredible benefits to getting a bit sweaty and uncomfortable for a yoga session while flowing through your favorite yoga poses.
1. You’ll Break A Sweat
Okay, so maybe this one goes without saying but what’s wrong with letting a little sweat drip during a yoga session? When you go for a run or lift you do, why should yoga be the exception? People love a hot yoga practice for this reason because sweating detoxifies your body of excess water and salt, it opens your pores and purges them from the day to day grime and bacteria that lives on your skin. You’ll leave the practice glowing… (yes with sweat) but glowing nonetheless!
2. The Mood Boost
Studies show that spending time in a sauna can bring stress to your body, thus releasing euphoric hormones such as dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins to deal with the discomfort. Heat’s feel-good effect has shown to last beyond the sauna too and had an antidepressant effect and adding in heat to your yoga practice can provide a similar result.
3. For A Deeper Stretch
Another reason why some yogis gravitate to this type of practice is
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4. Stress Relief
Hunching over a desk or the same relative position all day can easily put some stress on your joints and muscles and in turn on your body as a whole. Yoga allows the energy and tension to be released as you stretch and as you breath in and out throughout the practice, per Ashland Yoga Center. By releasing this tension and energy, you are letting things go and there’s no better stress relief!
5. Could Aid In Weight Loss
Yoga isn’t typically considered to be an intense workout… but it can get your heart pumping just as easily as any other exercise, especially when you add heat into the mix. Yoga is all sorts of amazing because many poses can improve your digestive and endocrine system, which can boost your metabolism. Yoga practice also helps you build lean muscle, which contributes in weight loss.
6. Good For Heart Health
One study from the American Journal of Hypertension found that spending prolonged periods in a sauna could correlate with reduced high blood pressure and therefore better heart health! However, it should be noted that this research hasn’t been fully investigated to explain how heat and heart health work together.
7. It Could Help Fight Off A Cold
It can be tough to get back into the move and groove of things when you are fighting a common cold. According to health and wellness expert Caleb Backe of Maple Holistics (via Pop Sugar), when your cold is back on the up, breathing in warm air through hot yoga can help combat your remaining congestion, just as a warm shower might. Doing those upper body stretches such as Upward Dog also allows your chest to open up when you breathe as well.
8. Increases Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a huge benefit to all yogis but that doesn’t mean it won’t play any less of a part in your hot yoga practice. Taking time for yourself to be present in the moment and be in touch with your mind, body and soul is always a plus, no matter what. Even if you can seem to crack the poses or take the heat. It’s all about noticing how you feel in a given moment and hot yoga presents a new way for you to explore this.
Just at the beginner level?
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9. The Sense of Accomplishment
Going back to the beginning, why do a more sweaty version of yoga when you can do your regular practice? Because it’s a challenge. There’s an incredible feeling that comes with feeling the sweat on your brow, pushing through discomfort and coming out of the other side having accomplished it. While typical yoga can be therapeutic, hot yoga is a different kind of therapy. How will do deal with life when it’s not easy? Will you power through it with a smile or complain, walk out and say it was too hard? So, give it a try!
Additional Tips From a Hot Yoga Expert
To get some more information on the benefits of hot yoga, we reached out to Anna Chevalier of Hot 8 Yoga here in Los Angeles. Here are her tips:
Practicing hot yoga can improve your creativity as working out in the heat promotes the production of new brain cells and strengthens the connection between them. People who practice yoga and meditation score lower on brain rigidity tests, meaning their minds are
Activities that lengthen and stretch muscles can help you prevent injuries, back pain, and balance problems. Not only does stretching improve blood flow and flexibility
By improving your range of motion, your body requires less energy to make the same movements and you also will have more flexible joints thus lessening the likelihood of injuries sustained during workouts, or any other time.
Women can lose up to 20 percent of your bone mass in the five to seven years after menopause. Yoga is a weight-bearing exercise, meaning you hold the weight of your body up against gravity. Resisting gravity puts
That stress forces bones into laying down new growth. In this way, yoga is no different from jogging, walking, or playing tennis. But unlike some other weight-bearing activities, yoga won’t damage cartilage or stress the joints. Instead, it lengthens muscles and holds them there, creating tension on the bone