Benefits of Hot Yoga
Written by Jillian Zacchia.
Yoga is a meditative practice that revitalizes body and spirit that has many benefits. While practicing yoga the yogini feels more flexible and aware of her body because of the balanced mixture of controlled breathing and yoga poses performed at a slow and maintained pace. The slow pace is essential for maintaining control, but it means that yoga distances itself from other workouts that rely on high energy sweat inducing routines. Yoga slims and tones without all the sweat, but not hot yoga - which combines sweat with the controlled yoga pace.
Hot yoga, or Bikram yoga - named after the developer Bikram Choudhury, is practiced in a room heated to 105° F (40.5° C) with a humidity of 40%.
There are many benefits of performing yoga in extreme heat. First of all those who perform yoga in such heat become subject to perfuse sweating, which helps rid the body of toxins. Second of all when one is stretching in a heated room the muscles in their body become warm - this prevents injuries and one even appears more flexible. Third, when one is exercising in a heated room for a long period their breathing becomes much deeper. Bikram believes that we only use 50% of our lung capacity, but by performing hot yoga at regular intervals one can actual stretch the lungs to withhold more oxygen which will improve blood circulation.
When one is performing hot yoga they don't think about the toxins, the flexibility, or the lung capacity and blood circulation. It's a special experience that allows the yogini to connect with her body in a way only yoga can provide. While I was performing hot yoga I felt an overwhelming awareness of my body and breathing. Most women have insecurities with their body, but in hot yoga the sweat seems to melt away those insecurities. I felt pride in my body, and after the 90 minute yoga routine I felt as if I had just completed an intense fat burning workout.
Hot yoga is the most invigorating yoga I have experienced. Hot yoga is a personal and individual experience. You have to know your bodies limits well to be able to perform hot yoga. There is no shame in taking water breaks or resting in child's pose. At the end of the session, whether you kept up with the teacher or not, you feel a sense of accomplishment and freedom. When you step out of the heated room it is as if you leave a weight behind you - quite literally considering the amount of sweat that left your body. It's a fulfilling experience and a way to experience yoga in a more challenging and intense way.