Hot Yoga 101
The first time I did yoga was a class at a gym I belonged to in high school. A friend of mine and I giggled our way through the entire thing, confused by what seemed to us to be a foreign language the instructor was using to call out poses that everyone else seemed to already know. Although I didn’t become an instant disciple that day, I didn’t entirely write it off, and later in college I gave it another go. For a while I was happy to have something I could call “exercising” that seemed pretty easy
- I mean, half of the class was spent on the floor.
I didn’t even realize how much I was benefitting from yoga in other areas as well - it truly is a mental practice as much as a physical one. In the years since, yoga has been my sanctuary. When I go through something tough, and feel entirely out of alignment with my life’s greater purpose, I usually find myself gravitating back to the mat.
Recently I got back into my practice in the form of hot yoga. If the thought of being in a sweaty hot room terrifies you, well you’re not alone, it worried me too the first time. But there truly are a lot of benefits to a steamy hot session on your mat, here are six -
Elevated Heart Rate
I know, I have been in the camp of ‘yoga isn’t a soulcycle class’, its sacred, lets not make it aerobics. Until I recently realized, you can still get all the benefits of gaining flexibility and having it be a meditative practice while still increasing your metabolic rate and burning more calories. It helps you tone your body and lose weight, and that honestly only makes for a deeper practice.
- My yoga teacher, last week
The elevated temperature in a hot yoga class helps you get a deeper stretch faster than in any other type of yoga practice. Your muscles are allowed to expand and contract more easily with the heat so that you have greater flexibility. Just be sure not to overdue it!
Most hot yoga classes are just that, HOT. On any given session I leave dripping. And not just leave dripping, there will be a moment in the class, where I’m flying from warrior two to warrior three and a faucet of sweat will be dripping from my face. It may sound gross, but theres no better way to feel like you’re doing something great to your body than sweating out all of the potential toxins and chemicals you’ve encountered through food and environmental factors.
Your skin will glow✨, I swear. Your heart rate will be pumping, causing more blood flow circulation, which will help give you that natural glow. In the month since I’ve gotten back into a regular hot yoga routine I swear a lot of my skin has cleared up and it feels fresher and more youthful.
Improved Bodily Functions
This yoga engages your spine and the surrounding muscles in a way different from most other workouts. You will find yourself with better posture. Your neck will feel less cramped, something great for those of us who sit at a desk most days. This causes better function of your nervous system. A lot of the poses (twists) aid in digestion, and the heat only lets you get deeper into the tissue.
At its core, if you’re not getting the mental benefits of practicing yoga, as well as the physical, you’re not getting the full practice. Yoga is as much a mental exercise as a physical one. You have to push through your perceived boundaries, from how far you think you can stretch to how long you can balance in tree pose. Through the regular practice of yoga, you develop concentration which leads you to meditation. You learn to be still when the seas are choppy and respond to challenges with clarity, on your mat and in the world outside of it.