Jessica Alba and Gwyneth Paltrow does it, but should you? Here are good reasons why you should buy a membership pass to your local hot yoga center for the upcoming cold months.
Hot yoga has become very popular since a lot of celebrities started gracefully practicing it. If you know little to nothing about hot yoga, the practice style started in the 1970’s with a sequenced named Bikram created by, none other than, Bikram Choudhury himself. A traditional Bikram yoga class is practiced in a heated 40C/104F room throughout 90 minutes. As Bikram yoga became more popular, more styles of hot yoga started to form. Today hot yoga centers offer several kinds of hot yoga sessions like Chandra hot yoga that focuses on flexibility and Surya hot yoga that focuses on movement – all styles having different purpose and focus. These new and modern hot yoga styles are often done at 35C-38C and are sometimes only practiced for 60 minutes.
I have tried both Bikram and various of other types of hot yoga practices. I started practicing hot yoga a year ago, and I find it very challenging for my flexibility, and at the same time it gives me the chance to de-stress completely. The feeling after finishing the class is the best, though: walking out of the heated room and into and into a normal temperature one gives this rush that is really hard to explain. If you have ever tried it, you probably know what I’m talking about. Continue reading for 4 good reasons why hot yoga is the perfect workout practice for autumn and winter.
Sweats things up
Sweating is awesome. Did you know that sweating has some serious health benefits, like easing pain, controlling mood swings and even clearing the skin? Well, it can do that and more. Amazing, right? As soon as you enter the heated room it’s like you are suddenly walking into a hot tropical world (or being wrapped in a warm blanket), which is soothing when it’s insanely cold outside. Just entering the room is such a sensation for me, because I generally feel cold all winter long!
Everyone’s first hot yoga session will be scary and a bit gross, because you will probably find yourself sweating a lot all over your body. But as you get used to it, you soon realize that everyone in the room is sweating just as much as you and that it actually isn’t that bad.
I have seen a lot of people wiping off their bodies in between the poses, which is actually really bad. Sweating, together with your water bottle, is, in fact, the only thing cooling you down through exercising, meaning that wiping off the sweat will just make it feel even warmer. So, just ignore the sweat and focus on the exercise – you’ll be OK!
What I love most about the heat is that it makes your body much more flexible than it otherwise would be. The reason is that the room warms up your muscles and lets you stretch more than you otherwise would be able to. During practice, I find myself being able to do and stretch more into the poses, which I normally wouldn’t be able to do. It takes me by surprise each time!
Though when you are more flexible during your hot yoga session it is important to know your limits and push yourself untill you feel the stretch, but stop as soon as you feel pain. It’s all about balance, practice, and patience. I speak from experience when I say that it is truly a mind-blowing experience when you can see and feel the progress in your flexibility and strength. It is such a confidence boost to suddenly be able to do a pose, that you weren’t even close to master a few weeks ago.
‘De-stress and detox’
Breathing is a huge part of hot yoga, adapted from meditation, which is the number one method used to de-stress. Breathing practice alone can be an instant de-stressing component. The postures done in Bikram yoga is said to be especially helpful, as Stress.org states that Bikram yoga not only ‘keeps the heart healthy and gets oxygen into the system, but it helps deplete stress hormones and releases mood-enhancing chemicals, endorphins, which help us cope with stress better.’
Hot yoga is also said to detox the body of toxins, as sweating and the increase in circulation during class makes the lymphatic system and blood stream be flushed of any toxins. So, if you have had one too many drinks and night outs, hot yoga will totally help you with that. Hot yoga is recommended to be practiced during an alcohol detox, as it is extremely beneficial for this. The reason is that the exercise itself will get movement around all muscles and joints while the heat will sweat out the toxins from alcohol even faster.
With that being said, hot yoga is an amazing therapy: a regular practice can heal old injuries and reduce symptoms of illnesses, as diabetes and high blood pressure.
Help focus and makes your mind stronger
Bikram yoga is practiced in the same sequence, and so is, in fact, most hot yoga classes. Practicing and repeating a routine not only gives to you determination, but it increases your focus tremendously, as you focus only on the poses that you are doing, one at a time. This will reflect on how you handle daily tasks and lets you fulfill and focus on those without being distracted by other things on your to-do list. You will increase your ability to concentrate, which will be a huge step into getting rid of procrastination once in for all!
I have read lots of stories of people going through tough times in their lives, and finding yoga as a solution to their anxiety, depression and illnesses. Yoga not only improves your flexibility or strength, it also improves your way of thinking and the way you deal with emotions. For many people yoga has been the gateway, allowing them to reconnect and peacefully focus on the practice. This will reflect in the real world of how you handle problems, and as hot yoga has helped you de-stress along with other things, you should find yourself solving those problems more effortlessly.
If you are thinking about taking your first hot yoga class, be sure to read a practical guide and these nutrition tricks that I found, which will make your practice a whole lot easier!