One of the most popular forms of exercise for people all around the world is yoga. Yoga is exceptional for weight loss, flexibility, stress relief, and even meditation.
A simple Google search will prove this.
Recently, I read about Goat Yoga. While it looks interesting, it also looks pretty distracting to have little goats jumping on your body when you’re trying to get your poses right.
Around here at Blood Sugar Fit, we love yoga…and though I can’t imagine ever doing Goat Yoga, Hot Yoga is a completely different story.
Initially, I could never imagine purposely going somewhere to feel like I’m drowning in a pool of my own sweat while bent into the shape of a pretzel; however, that’s not what it’s like – even though sweating is a huge part of it.
Lots of people discover that the heat is relaxing, kind of like taking a hot shower when you have sore muscles.
Regardless, even if you don’t like the heat and copious amounts of water coming from your pores, you WILL love the way your body feels once class has ended.
Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of doing hot yoga, regularly.
How Did How Yoga Begin?
Yoga got it’s start in India. Generally speaking, it gets pretty hot on the continent of India – but that is not where the name “hot yoga” originates.
Back in the 1970s in Japan, there was a yogi name Bikram Choudhury. He was teaching overseas and noticed that a good number of his students went to the sauna for relaxation during their lunch breaks.
This made him add heaters in his Yoga classes. Initially, he heated is Yoga instruction rooms to 82 degrees Fahrenheit.
He wanted the room to feel like his hometown in Calcutta, India. After adding heat to his yoga classes, Bikram noticed that his students work harder the more they sweat.
Eventually, the style of hot yoga was called Bikram Yoga. This is the original style of hot yoga. Modern classes, the temperature is set to 105 degrees Fahrenheit.
The humidity in the room will be around 40%, and there are 26 poses to work through – in order. Every time.
Some people really love this kind of structure, and it helps them build a daily or weekly practice that gives them huge benefits in their lives and in their health.
But some people just want to do yoga and go home. That’s why it’s great that not all hot yoga studios are Bikram Yoga studios.
Bikram Yoga is very regimented and formal, and you don’t have wiggle room to figure out your own style.
Keep in mind if you ever fall in love with this form of exercise and want to teach it to others, you’ll probably what to learn Bikram yoga at some point.
Thankfully, there are lots of other styles that are less structured and still will give you lots of poses to choose from; you will never get bored.
- Hot Power Flow Yoga is another form that includes heat, but it’s based on the vinyasa flow.
- Moksha Yoga keeps the temperature at 105 degrees Fahrenheit, like Bikram Yoga does, but this form uses a lot of poses and they are very heavy on being “green” and socially responsible.
- Power Yoga still allows the room to be heated…but it’s just not so hot or humid. Instead, people who love Power Yoga tnd to say they feel like they’re working outside on a warm day.
- Regular yoga is still fine. All on its own, yoga increases flexibility and lowers stress, which is great for the heart. So if you don’t want any heat at all, you always have that option!
Hot Yoga Will Increase Your Flexibility, Balance, And Power!
Almost everyone I know who does yoga has a lean, toned, powerful body. That’s not to say being slender is the only way to be healthy. It’s not.
But yoga tends to have some of the most slender people in the world. It’s also an incredible weight loss exercise when you’re doing it correctly…
… but let me not get off track.
Let’s talk about how hot yoga takes your results to the next level.
In general, heat loosens up things. That’s why we wash dishes on hot water setting, and if we’re trying to sanitize clothing, we use hot water for that too.
The heat breaks up the dirt it makes it easier to get things clean.
In the same way, when you apply heat to stretching, you’re going to find that your muscles, tendons and ligaments are a lot more “bendy.”
The more flexible you are, the easier it is for you to do any stretches necessary.
There is some level of disagreement on whether or not you need to stretch before or after a workout. I’m just going to tell you right now that is more important to stretch afterwards.
A good stretch after your workout will increase blood flow and circulation to your muscles, and hot yoga is probably the fastest way to help stiff people be able to touch their toes with ease.
So What Are The Benefits Of Hot Yoga?
Benefit #1 of Hot Yoga: Increased flexibility
Now, we’ve already discussed this a little bit, but I really want to hammer it home.
A 2015 study done by the Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary and alternative medicine found that flexibility increased as people continued doing hot yoga.
Think about all the elderly people you know who are stiff and have a hard time getting around. Hot Yoga could help… and if they are not able to tolerate the high levels of heat, it’s easy to find a class where the temperature is not as warm.
But hopefully you understand that if you need flexibility, yoga is the way to go.
Benefit #2 of Hot Yoga: Increased balance
Please know that I am not picking on older people. My elders are Filipino, and I’m watching them as they age.
Occasionally, one of them will fall out of the bed, trip on the stairs, or otherwise lose their balance. I know it’s annoying to them anytime I travel home for the holidays or for vacation, but I’m always preaching the benefits of yoga.
For those who can handle it, I strongly recommend hot yoga. in that same study that I just mentioned a moment ago, people who do yoga for at least 8 weeks experience measurable improvements in their balance.
Not only that, but Hot Yoga helps you to get stronger faster, too!
Benefit #3 of Hot Yoga: A stronger mind
Earlier, we talked a little bit about Bikram Yoga and why some people love it and others can’t stand it. What you need to know is that Bikram yoga’s fundamentalism has some pretty powerful benefits.
When you do something over and over the same way, every time, it gets programmed into your brain as muscle memory. Have you ever been driving somewhere with the intention to go to a specific place, but you made a wrong turn as though driving somewhere else that you’re familiar with?
For example, I try not to talk on the phone when I’m driving because it’s distracting. But I can’t always do that perfectly; if a family member or friend calls with an emergency, I’m going to take a call.
Unfortunately, my habit is to drive home anytime I’m distracted. One time, I left my house, got a phone call, and ended up back home talking to the person in my driveway.
It wasn’t until I got off the phone that I realized that my muscle memory have brought me back to the place I’m most familiar with.
In a way, that’s what Bikram Yoga can do for you. If you’re the kind of person who gets stressed easily, you might find yourself sitting in your room doing a pose just to get your center of balance back.
You may find yourself replaying words spoken in class that have the ability to calm your mind. Hot yoga can do wonders for your brain.
Another thing to think about is that it takes a special kind of person to sit in a very hot room in exercise. If you’re the kind of person who can do that, you will strengthen your mind every single time you go to class.
It takes a very strong mind to not leave class in the middle of a hot yoga class. If you can do hot yoga, you probably can do anything.
Benefit #4 of Hot Yoga: Lose weight quickly…
Normally, when you think about exercises that help you to lose weight, you don’t think about yoga. You probably tend to think about high intensity exercises, running, aerobic classes, and maybe even long, morning walks.
The thing is, hot yoga burns a lot of calories simply because it’s done in a very hot room.
According to a study published in the Experimental Physiology Journal, hot yoga Burns significantly more calories. The study followed “lazy” adults aged 40 to 60 for 12 weeks.
Heart health definitely improved for everyone, but the people who did Hot Yoga lost the most body fat, and kept it off for longer.
Now, normally yoga doesn’t cause anyone’s heart to race…but when you add heat to the room where you’re taking your class, your heart will work a little bit harder as you endeavor to hold the pose.
It’s this little bit that makes all the difference.
The hot temperature gives your arteries a better environment for blood flow. The heat loosens them up so they’re not so stiff or constricting.
Anyone with high blood pressure or blood circulation issues will love hot yoga because it’s been proven to lower blood pressure and unhealthy cholesterol levels.
Many researchers believe that the heat has a positive effect on your metabolism, too.
Benefit #5 of Hot Yoga: You’ll look better…
No matter how hot the room is, hot yoga classes tend to have extra humidity in them.
Basically, what that means is that you get a subtropical workout.
Remember, Bikram Choudhury wanted to have a classroom that reminded him of being back in India.
So you can close your eyes and imagine you’re doing yoga outdoors in New Orleans or on a Florida beach.
Now, if you were outside, you’d have to deal with all the elements and the bugs, but being indoors allows you to avoid all that. Not only that, you get the benefits of sunlight without any of the negativity that sunlight can bring to your skin.
Your skin will love hot yoga.
Hot Yoga lets your skin detoxify, hydrate, improve circulation, and even decrease some of the wrinkles you may be seeing.
Just be careful not to overdo it with the heat. If you’re sensitive to it, you could find yourself breaking out or experiencing dry skin for the first time in your life.
Make sure you go to class with clean skin with no makeup on it. Immediately after class, all you have to do is wash your face and moisturize.
Sweating is not as bad for your skin as some people say it is. Occasional sweating keeps your pores open and your skin healthy.
Just make sure you don’t let the salt and dirt from your sweat stay on your skin for too long.
Last Thoughts On Hot Yoga…
If, after reading this article, you’re ready to try out your first hot yoga class, there are some things you need to know first…
…because you might want to avoid hot yoga if you have any of the health conditions described below.
Thought it’s a safe practice, and it is very rare for anyone to get hurt, this style of exercise is not for everyone.
For example, if you’re having any kind of issues with your thyroid, temperature regulation will be a challenge for you.
You may feel too hot or too cold all the time, and seasons with extreme weather make you feel miserable.
If this is the case for you, it’s going to be better to either stay home or try going to a yoga class where the temperatures aren’t so hot or humid.
Diabetics often have trouble regulating their temperature, too…so if this describes you, talk to your doctor first, and use wisdom so you don’t end up in the hospital.
Additionally people with high blood pressure or high cholesterol or any kind of heart or brain issues should all check with their doctors before beginning hot yoga classes.
What’s your doctor says everything is okay for you to attend, keep these things in mind since your health is a little more fragile than others who are in class with you.
- Choose a class where the teachers don’t mind reminding you to drink water. Some teachers don’t like you to break your concentration, but the truth is your health matters more than their comfort.
- Feel free to take a sip or two of coconut water before class, and then drink it again afterwards. You might even want to eat a banana. These will replenish your electrolytes and make sure that your potassium/sodium balance is right.
- Monitor yourself for dizziness or any kind of discomfort. Though the hot room takes a bit of adjustment, and you will feel a bit of discomfort when you first start, you should never feel so uncomfortable that you’re about to pass out. Heat stroke is real. Stay safe.
Thanks for reading this article. I hope it was helpful for you as you consider starting your hot yoga practice.
It’s possible that the hardest part about beginning hot yoga is simply showing up to class. So do me a favor. After you take your first class, come back here and tell me how it went for you.
Do you love hot yoga? How was your very first experience?