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Hot Yoga trend? Or not so hot?

What is your opinion about Hot Yoga? I get this question from students very often. If you aren’t familiar with hot yoga – hot yoga is more or less the same as Bikram Yoga (practicing Yoga in a heated room. Bikram has 26 poses performed in a heated room, the sequence in hot yoga is different), but it is a Yoga practice done in a heated room (40-45 degrees).

Artificial heat

When I am asked what I think about this type of Yoga, my first reply is always: Do you enjoy the practice? Does it make you feel good? And if the answer is yes, then that’s great. If you want my personal opinion, I will say that Hot Yoga is not great. To practice yoga or any form of movement in an artificially heated room is not healthy for anyone. Imagine practicing Yoga or doing any form of movement in a sauna!! Would you do that? I doubt it.

You will hear teachers and/or students saying that being in a hot room practicing Yoga increases metabolism, makes the body more flexible, and eliminates toxins. Being in a hot room will not increase your metabolism, but the movements in Yoga are what speeds up your metabolism! Yoga creates a lot of heat even if you are practicing in a “normal” room.  If you practice Yoga or have tried a class, you probably remember that after a few movements your body heats up! True that the body opens up much faster in a heated room, but this can be dangerous if you don’t practice mindfully. Respect your edge and never stretch to the point of great pain.

The danger of practising in an overheated room

In Hot Yoga the room is HOT and the  room is humid which decreases oxygen. This can make it challenging for the students to breathe. To me this is torture, not Yoga! Imagine you are sick with fever. Do you want to practice Yoga when your body is overheated? I guess not! So why put strain on your system and practice in a room that is heated to 40-45 degrees? The danger of practicing in a heated room are many:  The muscles open up extremely fast, and often the students overstretch. Overstretching can be harmful.  I have seen students with serious knee and ankle injuries and in some cases ripped hamstrings and lower back strains. That’s a great shame because Yoga is about healing the body not destroying it.

Practise safely

Keep it simple and keep it moving, and do what you enjoy.  But be sure to listen to your body. Don’t compromise your knees or your lower back, it is not worth it. Yoga is supposed to take you to greater health, awareness and joy. And most importantly – Yoga is a way to purify the mind, and this is what most people need in our time of life.

Live healthy and happy,

Sally

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