Therapeutic Benefits of Hot Yoga
The body is exposed to toxins on a daily basis through our environment and by what we ingest. Even if we try very hard to take care of our bodies, it is difficult to avoid toxins. It is therefore important to cleanse the body on a regular basis. Our systems naturally release toxins through sweating, exhalation, and elimination. Yoga has a profound effect on our entire systems by affecting organs, the endocrine system, the cardiovascular system, as well as the nervous system. When we practice yoga in a heated environment, we can experience many beneficial effects, the primary one being detoxification. By consciously and safely moving the body through sequences designed for detoxification such as those that include a lot of twisting, we can accentuate the detoxifying affects gained from sweating by literally wringing out the organ systems. When we move the body in and out of stretches and twists, we are dilating and constricting tissues and this phenomenon pushes old and stagnant blood and lymph out and invites oxygenated blood into our tissues.
In addition to detoxifying the system, Hot Yoga has the potential to strengthen the heart and internal organs. This is because the heart works harder in the heat. The work done in the heat causes the arteries to dilate and thins the blood so more blood flows as the heart is challenged to get nutrients and oxygen to every cell in the body. The internal organs are also challenged. As the body gets used to practicing in a heated environment, the system learns what to do to keep itself from overheating and with practice the body is more able to tolerate heat outside the hot yoga classroom.
Hot yoga is different than other forms of exercise in that it teaches deep breathing and visualization that serve to cleanse the body by releasing toxins and carbon dioxide and by inviting oxygenated blood into the cells. In addition to the physical benefits, the intensity of the heat teaches us to strengthen our will, determination, and self discipline, while training the mind to focus on the present moment. Furthermore, regular practice of hot yoga has the potential to show more immediate results in building strength and flexibility because the heat allows more blood into the muscles and we can stretch more deeply in the postures.
Hot Vinyasa Yoga is different from Bikram Yoga in that it is practiced in a room ranging in heat from 85-95 degrees, while Bikram yoga is practiced in 105 degrees. Hot Vinyasa Yoga is a flowing sequence that integrates movement with breath in order to create a meditation in motion and students are encouraged to find their own way through the poses while the instructor offers a safe container of alignment instruction. Students are encouraged to rest when needed and to drink water responsibly before and after class. It is important to eat 2 hours before class and come to Hot Yoga on an empty stomach.
Mind, body, and spiritual benefits of hot yoga:
Focus and relief from anxiety and stress
Cleansing of emotional toxins and negative thoughts
Increased energy and the creation of a euphoric sense associated with intense exercise
Strengthens the heart and internal organs
Contraindications of practicing Hot Yoga:
Those with cardiovascular issues such as high or low blood pressure, and those taking medications that affect the heart should exercise extreme caution with elevated heat.
Joint injuries, infections, fever
Heat effects children and elderly differently they are at higher risk of heat stroke
Risk of over-stretching ligaments and tendons ( this can happen in any form of exercise or yoga class but we are at more risk in the heat and need to be mindful of strengthening and not over-stretching tissues)
As with any form of exercise, Hot yoga offers many benefits and comes with some risks therefore it is important to practice with a qualified and experienced teacher and to practice with awareness and caution. It is important to drink plenty of water and to listen to the body’s wisdom and take rest when needed.