Looking for a fun, challenging way to shake up your yoga practice?
A chance to push yourself?
Have you tried heated yoga?
Created as a way to achieve enlightenment through the physical and mental practice of Yoga. Years later there are over 300 million people worldwide practicing yoga. In the Western world, we have managed to create all sorts of yoga classes experiences. Hatha and vinyasa yoga, Jivamukti yoga, Ashtanga yoga, beer yoga, Christian yoga and goat yoga. What ever the reason, more and more people are realising the benefits of the practice, how to incorporate it into your life and how to get the most out of it for a better quality of life.
Here we look at the different kinds of heated yoga classes, and everything you need for your first time.
Let’s first talk about why we all need a challenge and an opportunity to push ourselves.
Human beings are capable of so much and often times we cap ourselves to what we think we can do. We are currently living in some of the best times and have many more opportunities available to us than our parents and grandparents did.
We are also living in a time where depression and anxiety are much more prevalent than before and whether this is because we are simply talking about it more or because there are more people that are suffering, what ever the reason, we also need to take the opportunities we have to push past our personal boundaries to become more than what we are.
Where does heated yoga fit into this? It's difficult and uncomfortable, that's why. To make it through a hot sweaty 90 minute class, where you have to hear the teacher, quiet the voices in your head telling you this is too hard, remember to breathe and plant your right foot in between your hands is hard…and it's much easier not do it at all.
But when you push yourself out of your comfort zone, you find that even though it's a lovely place to be, nothing ever grows from staying there.
What is heated yoga?
Hot, heated or warm yoga are classes where an extra element of heat is added. Usually these either take place in a Hot-Yoga class or Bikram class.
A little more info…..
Bikram yoga extablisrd in the 1970” consists of a set sequence of 26 poses done over a 90 minute class. There are no adjustments and students are allotted a water break halfway through the class. There is also no music played.
Perfect for those that are looking for a stricter kind of practice and since the classes are practiced in the same way, a chance to actually see improvements over time.
Hot-yoga classes are great as teachers create their own vinyasa or Hatha flow dependant on the class level. Heated yoga classes are a lot more accessible to practitioners of all levels as more studios offer these classes and has allowed many teachers to be able to expand their teaching repertoire. For most the creative flow in a heated yoga class is a lot more attainable than the strict routine of Bikram yoga.
Classes are usually 45 - 75 minutes but some do stretch to 90 minutes. Most teachers do offer hands on adjustments and music is usually played through the class.
Some classes are slightly heated and offered in various settings not just for instance in a yoga studio. Hot-pod yoga is also an amazing opportunity to experience a heated vinyasa flow that is open to all levels.
How hot does it get?
105 °F (41 °C) with 40% humidity.
Varies but can go from 80–100 °F (27–38 °C) with varied humidity
What are the benefits of yoga, hot or not?
The benefits of yoga let alone hot-yoga are widely known and wether you attend a hot or regular temperature class, you will love the benefits.
It’s good for your ticker; Yoga provides a challenging cardiovascular workout. You will burn more calories because of the increased heart rate. Your stress will also be reduced, which indirectly positively effects your heart.
You will learn how to breathe your best breathes; So much of a yoga class is spent on the focus of breathe awareness. In yoga breath is ranked the most important aspect of the practice, with meditation coming second and the physical poses third. You learn how to slow your breathe, expand your breath and breathe into your diaphragm. And, because breath is linked to our nervous system (think of your shallow breathes when you are scared, or anxious) you will learn how delay reactions in situations where your emotions get the best of you.
It’s a mood booster; Yoga (in any form) has been proven to reduce stress, anxiety and depression. When you practice yoga, it improves your mood, and encourages a more positive outlook on both yourself (by encouraging you to look inward and love yourself a little more) and the world.
It increases bone density; Over time as we age our bones become weak making them prone to breaking. Think of older persons who break their arm from a small fall. In yoga, we are supporting our body weight in the same way we do at the gym through weight training and calisthenics and this increases the strength in our bones, protecting us.
It increases flexibility, strength and balance; “I can’t even touch my toes”. Every new yogi has said this. Many people experience pain in their hamstrings, backs and shoulders which is very unpleasant, uncomfortable and stops many from practicing. Over time, by softening and relaxing the muscles and decreases pain caused from tight backs or hamstrings.
What you need to ace your first hot yoga class.
The Yoga Mat
A yoga mat is usually the first thing a new yogi purchases and if you spend a little time looking around you will find one that is perfect for you and the kind of yoga you practice.
Whether you love your eco-friendly yoga mat that is not harmful to the environment, prefer a light travelling mat perfect for yoga on mountains or in forests, there is a mat for you.
For hot-yoga, a highly recommended are cork yoga mats because they are not only easy to clean (hello sweat) but a material that doesn’t hold any odour (because, sweat).
Cork yoga mats do not hold any mould and stay naturally clean. All they need is a quick wipe with a wet cloth and they are all good to go. Cork yoga mats are also anti-microbial meaning that they prevent tiny microorganisms from forming and growing on your mat. Safe and hygienic for you to rest your body on in child’s pose or Savasana.
They are also fantastic safety wise because of how grippy they become especially once wet.
A strong grip yoga mat will assist in allowing you to go more deeply into a pose safely and ensuring that you have a non-slip yoga mat will also stop you from slipping and hurting yourself during your practice…one less thing to worry about.
No wonder cork yoga mats are considered one of the best hot yoga mats for heated yoga.
A few more things to prep you for class.
Wear shorts/leggings and a shirt are all you need. It gets pretty hot and you want to be focussed on your practice and not overheating because of how many layers you have on. Something light weight and breathable is best.
You can also bring a towel to class to lay over your mat, or wipe the sweat off your brow.
Try not to eat for at least an hour before class.
If you are a complete newbie, look into taking a non-heated yoga class or a class that is only slightly warmed so that you can build yourself for a more challenging class.
Some extra safety tips
Go at your own pace and don’t worry about the “level” of the rest of the people in your class. The words “advanced” in yoga only means that that practitioner has practiced longer than a beginner. If you need to rest then rest.
Bring water but take care not to take huge gulps during class. Small sips are best and will prevent tummy cramps. Drink some water before and after class. Beetroot juice is also beneficial to drink before as it boosts and improves blood oxygen to flow to your muscles.
Be sure to listen to your teacher and allow them to instruct you as how to safety get in, hold and get our of each pose. Some times it can be very difficult to allow someone else to hold space for you and leave your practice in their hands but you will learn so much, and feel so good afterward.
Many shy away from trying hot yoga because of limitations placed on themselves as soon as they hear how hot it gets. There are definite benefits and you will never know till you try. Everyone’s experiences is also different and remember that everyone was once a beginner.
Have you ever tried hot yoga? How do you feel afterward?
If not, do you think you would consider giving it a try.