Yoga may conjure up images of pretzel-like poses performed in a shady, relaxing spot by the sea surrounded by gorgeous flowers and lush greenery. However, some people prefer to crank up the heat. Hot yoga is exactly what the name implies: doing yoga in a room heated to about 105 degrees Fahrenheit. This type of yoga is also known as Bikram Yoga named for its creator, Bikram Choudhury. Apart from the heat, which causes you to sweat away pounds of water weight, does hot yoga offer more or different benefits than regular yoga?
Exercise increases your body temperature, and exercising in a hot environment increases your body temperature even more. Increased temperature can result in higher metabolism for greater calorie burn. Yoga helps to strengthen your muscles and tone your body by stretching and holding various poses. Your flexibility and range of motion can improve as you continue doing yoga regularly. Greater range of motion and increased flexibility lessens your susceptibility to injuries, such as strained muscles and sprained joints. Add heat to an already effective exercise, such as yoga, and you can improve flexibility because warm muscles perform better and are less likely to be injured than cold muscles. That's why you should warm-up before exercise.
Sweating is your body's natural response to heat. Your body sweats to remove heat from the body as the sweat evaporates. Toxins are also released in sweat, thus cleansing your body of the built of toxins that naturally result from oxidation of nutrients in the cells. For those interested in detoxification options, hot yoga might be the answer.
In addition to improving your physical condition, hot yoga can also improve your overall well-being. Exercise improves your focus, your mental strength, your willpower, and your self-confidence. Your brain releases endorphins during and for a time after exercise. Endorphins are the "feel good" hormones that help to produce a feeling of calm and well-being. You will notice your self-confidence improves a little more after each successful hot yoga workout.
Before you begin hot yoga or any exercise program, see your doctor for a complete check-up. Make sure you are physically ready to take on the challenge of hot yoga. Certain medical conditions may be exacerbated by the stress exercise plus heat can place on your body. Be sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after hot yoga. The intense sweating can result in dehydration. You may continue to sweat for a period of time after your hot yoga session. Cool down slowly and keep your body hydrated. Learn the signs of heat-related conditions, such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Stop immediately if you feel light-headed, develop a headache, feel nauseous or anxious. Seek immediate medical attention if these symptoms persist.