If you’ve done any form of yoga before, hot yoga might not be new to you. Imagine yoga, but this time in an-above-room temperature.
The increased temperature is the key to hot yoga benefits. If you’re thinking of trying hot yoga, there are a few things you should know. So read on.
What is hot yoga?
Hot Yoga also called “Bikram Yoga” is a type of yoga started by Bikram Choudhury in the 1970s.
In the strictest sense of Bikram Yoga, the yogi would do 26 poses in a room of 41 degrees Celcius (105 degrees Fahrenheit) for about 90 minutes.
As you may have guessed, “hot yoga” as we know it today does not often adhere to the strict heating temperatures of 105 degrees heat.
Most yoga instructors only increase the heat slightly above room temperature to a point where they are comfortable.
Also, most hot yoga studios today are not as quiet or solemn as what Bikram had years ago. Yoga studios and instructors embrace spoken word, music or even a bit of noise as part of it.
What are the benefits of hot yoga?
As mentioned early, the benefits of hot yoga are in the increased temperature.
Several studies have shown that Bikram yoga can improve body strength and promote mental wellbeing. Let look at some of the benefits in more detail.
1. Promotes muscle flexibility
A study by researchers at Colorado State University investigated the short term impact of Bikram yoga training on general physical fitness.
Thirty-two participants were put into random groups of those who did yoga and those who did not.
Those in the yoga group participated in the 8-week training, which consisted of three 90-minute, instructor-led class sessions per week in a heated and humidified studio.
The findings showed that yoga subjects improved their deadlift strength and significantly increased lower back, hamstring, and shoulder flexibility.
2. Promotes bone density development
Research has linked bone strength and quality to exercise. This is good news because of the increasing cases of osteoporosis (a medical condition that causes major bone loss as the body ages).
A report by the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) estimates that about 44 million Americans have osteoporosis. This is where hot yoga might be helpful.
A recent study observed females who practice hot yoga for 5 years. The results suggest that Bikram Yoga may preserve, or even perhaps, increase bone mineral density in premenopausal women. And that hot yoga might help prevent osteoporosis.
3. Helps you to destress
If you’re looking to knock out stress, turning up the heat might be a good place to consider.
Researchers at the Western Sydney University investigated the effect of 16 weeks of Bikram yoga on perceived stress in sedentary, stressed adults.
The findings suggest that hot yoga can significantly improve perceived stress.
4. Promotes healthy mood
But it doesn’t end at just relieving stress. One of the benefits of hot yoga is that it can help light up your mood and make you feel better.
In a review of yoga interventions as a way of improving depression over five years, researchers found something that stood out.
Their findings published in the Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine found that even with a small group used over time, yoga interventions were effective in reducing depression.
5. Can help you burn calories
If you’re looking to burn calories, one good way is to get your metabolism up. Metabolism is the process by which our bodies convert what we eat and drink to energy.
Hot yoga can help increase the metabolic rate. In one study, researchers found that hot yoga could help men burn as much as 460 calories and women, about 330 calories.
In Bikram Yoga, this means your metabolic impact is about the same as walking briskly (about 3.5 miles an hour) for a full 90 minutes.
What you should know before taking a hot yoga class?
The increased temperature in hot yoga means that it’s not right for everyone. Before you take your first hot yoga session, here’s something you should know:
Check with your doctor. If you have health issues that might make it hard for you to stay in a humidified room for a longer period, it’s important to consult with your doctor before even considering hot yoga.
Hot yoga is meant to improve your health and not worsen it. Failing to check might cause you even more medical problems.
This also applies to you if you’re expecting a child or on some medications.
Drink water. Drinking water has so many benefits, especially during hot yoga. Muscle movements in a humidified room mean your body will lose a lot of water through sweat.
It’s important to replace these lost fluids consistently during your yoga session and afterward.
This is also generally true whenever you exercise in the heat.