Hot yoga, has become increasingly popular in recent years with millions of people worldwide opting to “turn up the heat” for their yoga practice. The most commonly practiced hot yoga, is Bikram yoga, where the yoga studio is heated to approximately 40C, 105F. Here 26 yoga poses are repeated over a 90 minute session. The poses are based on Hatha yoga but the essence of Bikram yoga is to work out every muscle in the body, as well as all ligaments, tendons, joints, organs and glands, whilst having a serious cardio workout. Yes, it’s intense! Hot yoga benefits though are plentiful, from improved circulation, detoxification and increased focus.
Benefits of hot yoga
If you haven’t tried hot yoga before, it is definitely an experience.
That first moment when you walk into the studio could quite possibly take your breath away. It may cause you to think “what on earth am I doing here?” and “how am I going to breathe in here, let alone move?” however, once you get started, slowly, your body will adjust and acclimatise to the heat and who knows, you may join the other hundreds of thousands “hot-yoga heads” around the globe, who simply can’t get enough.
Here are 10 hot yoga benefits that could entice you to give it a try:
(1) Increased flexibility
The heated room allows your muscles to relax more than usual and increases circulation, making it easier to get into yoga poses without the risk of injury.
People who practice hot yoga can typically stretch further and hold poses longer than in regular class at room temperature.
(2) Added strength and endurance
As with many types of yoga, Bikram yoga helps build strength, both muscular strength and core strength. Attention is paid to the spine, which when strong helps to support a good posture, reducing aches and pains, particularly in the neck, shoulders and back. Endurance will also improve from regular hot yoga practice that allows continual personal development towards greater goals.
(3) A proper cardio workout
If there is one benefit of hot yoga, it’s the cardio workout. The heat causes your heart to work that little bit harder, which helps strengthen it and the whole cardiovascular system.
It is estimated that up to 1000 calories can be burned in a Bikram yoga session – obviously this depends on a variety of factors, including age, fitness, physical shape and how hard you work during the session
(4) Deep breathing
The added heat in the Bikram studio makes breathing more difficult, so it is essential to take long, deep breaths as you move through the sequence.
Whilst hot yoga is one of the more intensely physical types of yoga, this required focus on breathing brings a different side to practice. It requires complete focus so it therefore becomes difficult to let those daily worries slip into the thought stream as well. It’s a good mental cleanse, as well as physical, and is thought to help breathing conditions such as asthma.
(5) Improved focus and determination
Because the same 26 yoga poses are practiced, each twice, in the Bikram routine, after committing a few classes these will become familiar, and it then becomes easier for you to focus on deepening your stretches, poses and focusing on breathing correctly.
Determination to develop practice also kicks in, as there are always elements that can be improved.
Both increased focus and determination are helpful skills in life, and yoga is often able to teach or enhance these skills.
(6) Detoxify the body
One of the main hot yoga benefits is detoxification, due to heavy sweating allowing toxins to expel from the body through the skin. It doesn’t stop at this though as the Bikram yoga postures, the endocrine and nervous systems are both also stimulated, which releases unused hormones and enzymes.
Yoga in general also keeps food and waste moving through the body by twisting and massaging your internal organs. This in turn detoxifies the body by cleansing the system.
(7) Reduces stress
Stress is prevalent in life, but when it gets excessive it can cause various health problems. Yoga in general helps reduce stress, and one of the Bikram yoga benefits is also fighting stress symptoms through intense focus, clearing the mind, added determination and building inner strength that makes dealing with stress more manageable.
(8) Less illness and injury
Hot yoga benefits include being less prone to illness and injury. Regular practice can also help recover from an old injury too as well as protect against future bad health.
Back and joint problems, diabetes, asthmas, sleep disorders, digestive problems, high blood pressure, depression, skin conditions and many more ailments have been reported to improve with Bikram yoga.
(9) Increased energy levels
It’s true to say that following a Bikram yoga class, your energy levels are likely to be sky-high! You should feel rejuvenated and with a positive state of mind – it is hard not to after the intensity of a hot yoga class.
(10) Meet new friends
Hot yoga is so popular now in the western world that classes are generally full with like-minded people. After a class it is not uncommon for people to gather for juices and discuss their practice and life in general. Who knows you could make some new friends.
Hot yoga benefits
In summary, the benefits of hot yoga will go towards keeping a lean, trim body and feeling good from the inside out. You should feel an added sense of productivity, determination, focus and balance and regular practice will keep you in touch with looking after yourself.
Make sure you prepare properly before going to a Bikram yoga class. There are a few things that are essential to bear in mind, and start slowly – don’t push it or compete against others as to feel the benefits of Bikram yoga you need to build up your strength, stamina and tolerance of the heat.