April 14, 2016
I’ve been practicing yoga in some way, shape or form since I was a teenager. Incredibly though, I’d never tried hot yoga until I accidentally booked myself in for a hot vinyasa class while travelling recently (I was told it was in a heated room when I turned up – I proceeded to remove several layers and wished I’d remembered my water bottle!).
Ever since, I’ve gone to nothing but hot yoga classes. My explanation to my girlfriends is, “I just feel way more relaxed, more flexible, and my muscles feel more worked afterwards.” But after my session this week, I decided I would do some proper research and find out what the real-deal benefits are. So, here they are – the benefits of turning up the heat on your yoga practice!
Contrary to popular belief, sweating doesn’t release a huge amount of toxins from the body – the liver and kidneys are the body’s major means of flushing out toxins. What sweating does do is release water and electrolytes – so it’s important to replace these during and after a hot yoga session.
However, hot yoga does offer detoxification benefits that have nothing to do with sweat. Yoga postures are designed to ‘compress’ and ‘release’ the internal organs, increasing circulation and ‘cleansing’ the bloodstream and lymphatic systems. One of the major benefits of hot yoga is that it allows the body to do this more effectively, resulting in increased detoxification. More on this in the next point:
Anyone who’s ever tried to exercise on a cold morning will know that the body is less tense, more relaxed and therefore much more flexible & conducive to stretching when the surrounding environment is warm.
Practicing yoga in the heat allows you to move more deeply into stretches, increasing flexibility and also enhancing the ‘compression’ and ‘release’ of the internal organs, helping the body to flush out toxins.
When the body is cold, the muscles contract in an effort to retain heat. Practicing yoga in a hot room allows the body to relax more completely from the get-go, and makes it much easier to release tension in the muscles. And, with a relaxed body, it’s much easier to cultivate a relaxed mind.
I’ve only been practicing hot yoga for around a month – so I’m sure I’m yet to derive some of its long-term benefits. At the moment, I feel a combination of extremely relaxed and extremely challenged during the class, then totally exhausted after class – but in a nice way (in a ‘I just did something amazing & now I need a hot shower and a nap’ kind of way). I enjoy each session so much that I’m always excited about the next one – and the day after, my muscles really feel worked; the same way they do when I go to the gym. I'm loving it so far and I plan to continue with regular heated classes. If you've never tried hot yoga or you aren't sure it's for you, I recommend you give it a go! It might become your new thing.
Have you tried hot yoga? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear them!
You never know - once you add some heat to your practice, you might even be able to pull of some of these moves.