Between the sheer number of different exercise classes available today, each supposedly boasting their own unique benefits and slim-bodied, green juice drinking advocates, it’s hard to know what is a fad and what is not.
Yoga alone can feel like a minefield. Though its origins are found in spiritual development, we now tend to view yoga, and all of its varieties, as a great form of exercise. In fact, it’s difficult to discuss exercise without someone suggesting that you try yoga.
It is a tried-and-tested, doctor-recommended form of exercise with a number of proven benefits. It is known to improve strength, balance, flexibility, back pain, heart health, sleep, just to name a few!
Recently, however, another form of yoga has taken over the conversations within the instagram exercise sphere. Hot yoga, which is essentially what it says on the tin, has supposedly become the new-found solution to all of your health related problems.
Is sweating whilst doing yoga really so beneficial for your health, or does it just make you more likely to slip, fall, and make a fool of yourself in front of a group of yoga enthusiasts who, despite being in 100 degree temperatures, look as if they’ve just stepped out of vogue?
Well, actually, yes! There are a number of genuine benefits of hot yoga. Don’t believe us? Check them out below!
What Is Hot Yoga?
First, let us clarify what hot yoga actually is.
Often, the term ‘hot yoga’ is used interchangeably with the term ‘Bikram yoga’ (for more yoga terms you’re likely to come across, read here). Though similar, they aren’t exactly the same.
Developed by Bikram Choudhury, a yogi, is the act of doing yoga within a room with a specific temperature of 105 degrees Fahrenheit, and 40 percent humidity. The yoga itself is made up of the same 26 poses and 2 breathing exercises, carried out in the exact same order every time.
Hot yoga is a more broad label, allocated to yoga sessions done in a heated room, the temperature of which is anywhere above normal room temperature. Generally, the temperature tends to be somewhere between 80 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Hot yoga can be made up of a variety of different poses, and is far less consistent than Bikram yoga.
Due to the way people often use the term interchangeably, it’s important to look into the style of hot yoga class that you sign up to. If a temperature of over 100 degrees sounds too intense for you (as it does for us!), make sure to clarify how hot the room will be
Benefits Of Hot Yoga
Now we’ve covered the ins-and-outs of hot yoga, let’s get into its benefits!
A Full Workout
Hot yoga is pretty close to providing almost everything you may need from an exercise regime. During hot yoga, your heart rate is raised, and you often systematically work through all the major muscle groups.
Though it is probably no substitute for a carefully constructed exercise plan of cardio and weight lifting, for those of you out there hoping to get as much as you can out of one type of exercise, hot yoga will be ideal.
In a hot yoga studio, yoga poses can feel easier to do. As the heat warms up your muscles, the environment enables you to stretch that little bit further, and achieve a larger range of motion.
Hot yoga has proven to increase flexibility in the lower back, shoulders and hamstrings! So if you have found normal yoga classes frustrating due to your inability to recreate poses, hot yoga is an ideal substitute!
Hot yoga has been proven to strengthen muscles and bones. Generally, in yoga, you use your own body weight as a form of resistance. This is a great way to increase strength, especially if you hate lifting weights.
In using your own body weight, doing hot yoga can also increase your bone density. A 2014 study found an increased bone density in the neck, hips and lower backs of premenopausal women over a five year period.
Helps With Balance
If you’re feeling stressed, it’s likely that a number of people have told you to try yoga. As frustrating as that can feel, they are definitely onto something! A 2018 study found that hot yoga significantly reduced stress levels in participants in just 16 weeks.
Helps With Sleeping
A large number of Americans struggle to sleep for the recommended amount of 7 hours per night. If you are within this group, hot yoga is definitely worth a try.
A small study in 2012, which followed the sleeping activity of new hot yoga participants over a two week time period, found that hot yoga significantly helped with sleep. Specifically, participants reported falling asleep was easier, and a better quality of sleep.
Good For Weight Loss
Finally, if you’re looking for a good way to lose weight, hot yoga is definitely worth a try.
Not only does hot yoga help with weight loss by burning calories, but it also is claimed to help foster a better attitude towards food. Thanks to the way it reduces stress and focuses the mind, hot yoga is a great way to engender a healthier overall lifestyle!
Now that you’re fully convinced to try hot yoga, there are a few things you should consider, to ensure you are engaging in the practice in the safest way possible. Here are some safety tips to make sure you get the most out of your exercise.
- Drink plenty of water! Dehydration is a big concern in hot yoga, so make sure that you arrive at the class well-hydrated, and keep drinking water during the class, and after it’s finished.
- Check with your doctor before doing hot yoga if you have pre-existing health conditions. If you have any health condition which makes you prone to passing out in heat, or if you are pregnant, it is integral you discuss your exercise plans with a medical professional.
- If you feel dizzy or lightheaded, make sure you stop straight away, and look for somewhere cooler to rest.
To conclude, hot yoga is definitely not a fad. With an incredible amount of health benefits, it is a great form of exercise that can benefit your whole lifestyle. You just have to make sure that you are engaging safely!
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