In the last decade, yoga has become a staple in many people’s fitness regime. Gone are the days when people thought simple stretching and meditation was a silly way to get fit – yoga is currently one of the hottest health and fitness crazes. If you’ve tried yoga but feel like you would like to push yourself to the next level, Hot Yoga is an excellent way to kick regular yoga up a few notches. On the other hand, if you are simply starting out in yoga and have heard great reviews about the health benefits of Hot Yoga, you too should join a class and reap its rewards.
Hot Yoga, Is that just yoga for good-looking people?
Hot Yoga is literally what it sounds like – it’s yoga done in a very warm atmosphere. Usually the room is heated to approximately 100 degrees Fahrenheit which forces participants to release copious amounts of sweat and with it, unwanted toxins that are stored in your body.
Sometimes called Bikram Yoga, Hot Yoga has 26 poses and 2 breathing techniques that students work on perfecting. In addition to helping remove toxins from your body through sweating, Hot Yoga also helps to prevent injury by keeping your muscles warm throughout the entire class.
According to bikramyoga.com, the effects of this style of yoga are created through a combination of stretching, balancing and creating pressure. When you are stretching and balancing, “the blood supply in [your] arteries and veins is being cut off, creating pressure. When released, a lock gate effect is created, causing blood to rush through veins and arteries, flushing them out” (bikramyoga.com).
Benefits of Hot Yoga
People who have been practicing Hot Yoga for some time will rave about the countless benefits you will experience after immersing yourself in the Hot Yoga culture. Here are some of the most commonly cited benefits of Hot Yoga:
It removes toxins from your system through profuse sweating. Toxins can accumulate in your body through a variety of foods and drinks including alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, saturated fats and refined sugars. These toxins can have a negative effect on your body by making you feel fatigued or even mentally confused.
It helps you to build strength, improve your flexibility and your balance. If you are looking for an exercise regime that will complement your cardiovascular training, then yoga is for you. It will tone and strengthen your muscles and improve your overall posture, balance and flexibility.
It can help heal injuries and relieve pain you may experience. Because the classes take place in a very warm room, you are less likely to provoke an existing injury through excessive stretching. For people who have injuries or pain that prevent them from participating in other fitness routines, Hot Yoga is a good way to improve your fitness without having to push yourself to further injury.
It can help with weight loss. Many people who have embraced Hot Yoga have found that it can dramatically improve or level their weight. The hot temperatures mean that you can sweat off excess weight.
Getting started with Hot Yoga
Before you run off the nearest lulu-lemon store to purchase the latest in yoga athletic clothing, you should familiarize yourself with Hot Yoga first. Most students in a Hot Yoga classroom are encouraged to wear as little clothing as possible. For men, this means that you will likely be shirtless during the class and for women, you may want to invest in shorts and a sports bra rather than an over-sized t-shirt and sweats. If you are feeling self-conscious about your body, it is important to remember everyone in the class is probably feeling the same way, so don’t let this discourage you from joining a Hot Yoga class.
You’ve heard the old saying that you should always drink 8 glasses of water a day; when you are attending Hot Yoga classes, this is not simply a recommendation. It is imperative that you drink lots of water before class to induce sweating during class. Without this, you may feel weak and dizzy during class.
You will also need certain equipment to get started in any yoga class. In addition to the appropriate clothing, it would be useful to invest in a yoga mat that is durable and comfortable, since you will be spending most of the time in strange and sometimes awkward positions on the mat. For Hot Yoga classes, you should also bring a towel since you will be sweating excessively.
Other types of Yoga
If the idea of getting nearly naked and sweaty with a roomful of strangers doesn’t appeal to you, don’t assume that yoga is out of the question altogether. There are many different kinds of yoga classes that you can take:
Power Yoga – This type of yoga is fast and intense and involves moving from one yoga pose to another without stopping in between.
Hatha Yoga – This type of yoga is slower paced and concentrates more on bringing together your mind, body and spirit. For a new comer to yoga in general, it is a great way to start a new yoga regime.
Iyengar Yoga – This type of yoga focuses on teaching the correct posture for each pose and holding it for a long period of time. It differs from power yoga in that it doesn’t require participants to move quickly from one pose to another.
Remember that no matter what type of yoga or class you choose, you will work at your own pace. Everyone’s body is different and some people are just more flexible than others, so don’t beat yourself up when you can’t achieve each yoga pose perfectly. The important point is to keep working at it as your flexibility and strength will improve with each class.