Practice Hot Yoga or wanting to try it out? Here are a few facts to know about this heat-induced workout.
Firstly, some people slightly confuse hot yoga and Bikram (which originally became popular in the 1970’s). What sets Bikram a part from other forms of ‘hot yoga’ is that it contains 26-poses in room almost over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius).
Other hot yoga classes can consist of other asanas, or ‘poses’, that are more similar to that of a vinyasa or Hatha yoga style. On the other hand, hot yoga, or even ‘warm’ yoga, is a little more forgiving and can be a good alternative. Most of them now include infrared heating systems which can be beneficial.
As a dancer, I also wanted to find an activity outside of the studio with a little extra push to increase my flexibility and stamina. So, I’ve always wondered if sweating profusely in a yoga class was beneficial when manipulated by extremely high external temperatures? I was genuinely curious, so I dug up a few things.
Here are a few facts to jot down in your yogi diary:
Does Hot Yoga improve cardiovascular (heart) and pulmonary (lung) health?
- There are only a few studies that investigated this. One study found that there were no differences in cardiovascular and pulmonary health in Bikram yoga practitioners. While further studies also found no significant improvement in the practitioners’ cardiovascular health.
- Although, there is research, provided by the Yoga Journal, that found that as cardiovascular fitness involves both duration and endurance which, provided the heat intensity, could help one to (how should I say?) keep going no matter what!
Can the intensity of external heat improve flexibility?
- Gotlin, as mentioned in the New York Times, states that heat does increase one’s ability to stretch more. Although damage can been seen if a muscle is stretched beyond it’s capacity (yikes). Some Physician’s warn that heating the body 2 to 7 degrees over the natural body temperature (98.6 F) could be dangerous. With that said, we also have to think about how the joints, ligaments and tissues could retrieve damage also.
Are toxins released through sweat? Is hot yoga a detox?
- Yes and no. First of all, sweat contains certain types of toxins. The function of sweating is to cool the body down, therefore heavy sweating could ruin the body’s natural detoxification process. What helps to detoxify the body are the liver and kidneys, so it is the internal organs not the sweat glands. Moreover, to detox means to rid of metals and other toxic elements that enter the body, which is mainly done through excretion and about 1% through sweat.
- Tip: look for studios that use infrared or far-infrared (FIR) heating systems, which were actually designed to help us rid of metals and other toxins through sweat (problem solved, perhaps?).
So, if you’re mentally and physically ready to face the intense conditions of a Bikram or Hot Yoga class, I’d say ‘go for it’. The challenge may be a good thing. However, according the the above findings, it looks like we fitness lovers need to always remember to prepare and take care of the body at all times.