Have you always dreamed of practising yoga under the hot sun, somewhere on a dreamy beach? Hot yoga may be for you! Okay. Let’s be honest. You probably won’t see any palm trees or drink refreshing margaritas, but as far as the temperature goes, there is a good chance that you might think you are in some tropical destination while doing the downward dog pose. Indeed, this type of yoga happens in a warm, very, very warm and humid studio. Why choose this sport? To try something new and exciting! To fully enjoy this unique experience, make sure you are well prepared.
The Little History of Hot Yoga
When it was first created, hot yoga consisted of a strict sequence of 26 poses. However, things have changed and there are now several ways to practise hot yoga, many of them inspired by Vinyasa yoga. Practised in a room where the heat is cranked up as high as 37 or even 40 degrees Celsius, with a 40 percent humidity level, hot yoga is not for the faint of heart. It has many advantages and followers, but also has its detractors and risks.
First the benefits! A warm environment has a soothing effect. Hot yoga is said to have a calming and de-stressing effect and a positive impact on anxious people. Your muscles will also benefit from the tropical climate! Heat will warm up your muscles, providing greater flexibility which will allow a deeper stretch and relieve stiffness. Hot yoga is also an excellent cardio exercise, as the heat makes you work harder and increases your heart rate. It’s a great workout for your heart, without the impact on your joints that sports such as running might have!
Respect Your Limits
If you’ve already done physical activity in hot weather, you already know the risks and disadvantages of hot yoga. Watch for signs of dehydration, dizziness or discomfort and stop if you must. It’s wiser to listen to your body than to push your limits too far. Another piece of advice: if you usually can’t reach your feet without bending your knees, don’t let the effect of heat fool you into thinking you are suddenly more flexible than you really are. You are probably not. Go at your own pace and go easy on those stretches. Of course, a qualified instructor will know how far you can safely push yourself and will be able to guide you through the different poses. People with heart problems and pregnant women should consult their health care professional before practising hot yoga.
What You Should Know Before Starting Hot Yoga
Ideally, leave your long-sleeved shirt and pants at home. Dress for the weather! Choose light fabrics and clothes that allow you to move freely. Drink before you get there and make sure you don’t eat a heavy meal right before. Bring a water bottle or two to make sure you are keeping yourself well hydrated. Of course, you need a yoga mat and a nice and thick towel to wipe away all that perspiration! On this last point, be ready … to sweat profusely. We’re talking just-got-out-of-the-shower scenario here. If sweating in public embarrasses you, you might be better off with another type of yoga.
In conclusion, although hot yoga is a popular and interesting practice, beware of some of the promises associated with it, especially when it is presented as a miracle diet. Sure, the scale might tell you that you lost a few pounds after a session, but remember you mostly lost a lot of water! Nevertheless, go for it, try hot yoga! Who knows, it might turn out to be your new favourite activity!