Hot Yoga Benefits: How can it work for you?
Hot yoga benefits us on three major levels: mind, body and spirit. We’re going to focus on the body; and, to be more specific, the areas of flexibility, lung capacity and internal health. It’s important to continue to remember that hot yoga is for all skill levels. Just like we wouldn’t wait to be at a level of personal fitness to go see a personal trainer, we shouldn’t wait till we reach a certain “yoga level” to practice hot yoga.
Why Hot Yoga?
Hot yoga is a good all-in-one solution for anyone looking to improve their overall health. The environment we put ourselves in for hot yoga is typically anywhere from 95 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit (35-40 Celsius). In other words: a little toasty. “Why put myself in an oven to practice yoga?!” you might say. The heat does a few things in a matter of minutes that you ordinarily would attempt to accomplish in 10-15 minutes of warm up: tightness in the muscles begins to release, the circulation picks ups and the sweat glands are activated.
It is probably fair to say that most people get into yoga because of the flexibility benefits. It is probably also fair to say that most people stop yoga because they are not seeing results at the pace they would like. As mentioned before, the heated environment of a hot yoga class offers something that a typical yoga class often does not: the initial warm up before the stretch. When you warm up before you stretch, you get the most out of it because you muscles are ready to release. While this is usually a 10-15 minute process, it happens within the first few minutes of being inside of the hot yoga environment; allowing you to go right into the flows and benefit from you entire practice.
Lung Capacity – Just Breathe
Hot yoga is built around you personal breath. Each sequence should be designed to allow you to flow from pose to pose with you inhale and exhale. It naturally follows that over time this will increase you lung capacity as you continue to exercise control over you breath in a specialized environment. Knowing this and being able to practice it is often two different things; so I’ll give you a few tricks I find helpful:
- I like to make playlists for my workouts. For yoga, I have a playlist where every song has the same tempo that I chose for my breath. I count 8 beats for my inhale and 8 for my exhale. This can be modified to anyone. For instance, you may choose 3 or 4 beats for you breath. The idea is that you use music to create a metronome for you breath.
- Alternatively, if you have a good internal time keeper and playlist creation isn’t you thing, you can just count you breaths. The important thing is to inhale and exhale on the same count. Among other things, controlling you breath in this way makes you practice safer and keeps you present.
Internal Health -The Lymphatic System
Hot yoga benefits do not stop at the surface of what we typically consider. When we choose a form of exercise, there is usually a goal in mind: weight loss, body toning, flexibility, etc. Hot yoga does help with all of these; however, it also targets the systems deeper than the exterior. The lymphatic system is responsible for fighting infection and disease in the body. When we practice control over our breath, we encourage the flow of lymphatic fluids and the purge of toxins.
Go Forth and Yoga!
Hot yoga benefits the body by increasing flexibility, lung capacity and internal health. The heated environment causes our muscles to release faster, the control of our breath to be more impactful and the release of toxins to begin from the moment we come to the mat. As previously mentioned, don’t wait to begin this journey. Hot yoga is for everyone. Go forth and yoga!