Is Hot Yoga Really Better Than Regular Yoga?
Hot yoga classes are popping up all over the place, making people wonder, how does hot yoga work? Here are some basic things you should know about hot yoga to get you started!
Doing yoga in a heated room will make you sweat and it takes some getting used to. One of the ways people handle the heat is by using the ujjayi breathing method that is taught in class. It helps slow the heart rate so that you feel relaxed. It’s an intense experience to be in a room that hot and that humid, but can also help you feel much better afterward. It requires a lot of focus to get through a hot yoga class because you must regulate your breathing to maintain a sense of calm.
This forces you to develop a relationship with your breath even though that is not what you probably think you’re doing. Many people are walking into the room may be thinking they are going to lose more weight than they would in a normal class and become flexible faster. The way you feel after class may not be euphoria from the flexibility and weight loss, but it can feel euphoric none-the-less.
The Benefits of Hot Yoga
When we breathe slowly and deeply for an hour or 90 minutes, our body goes through a detox process and our blood becomes highly oxygenated. It helps your energy in that it brings lots of prana into your body and helps you feel alert, positive, and energized.
Long story short, you have to breathe to get through it and that will make you feel great. Most people think the hot yoga benefits are weight loss, detox, and a great work out that leaves you toned and glowing. In actual practice, you just feel so great from the breathing, you keep coming back frequently and those fitness benefits you were looking for can be a happy side effect!
Let’s look at some of our assumptions about hot yoga and how to practice it safely. We can also look at whether hot yoga is right for you and some pros and cons with hot yoga vs. regular yoga.
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What You Can Expect In A Hot Yoga Class
Hot yoga poses differ based on the style of the class. Usually, the class will start out simply and once you’re warmed up, you’ll get to do some twists and deeper poses. In a hot yoga class, you may find that it is slower paced with a steady sequence of poses or it can be a flow class where you move fluidly through poses which can be a bit more physically challenging. You can always read a class description or ask the front desk what each class is like.
What you wear to hot yoga is entirely up to you but keep in mind that it is hot and you will be soaked in sweat. You don’t have to wear little shorts and only a sports bra if you don’t want to - just clothes that allow you to move are sufficient. Go for a tank top and stretchy bottoms so you can move. It’s best not to wear makeup as it will likely run down your face when you sweat and lotion can make your hands more slippery.
While there is not a specific hot yoga mat, most people bring a yoga mat towel or a regular towel to help their hands and feet grip the floor. When a regular yoga mat is covered in sweat, your hands and feet can slide all over. Some studios also provide towels which you can use to also wipe your face. You can also ask how hot the class will be as certain studios and teachers will have classes at different temperatures.
We Assume Hot Yoga Is Better For Us
I used to teach hot yoga and would often start my class just asking people what inspired them to come. Some people said they wanted to relieve stress, others said they wanted to work on flexibility and health, and some wanted to improve their physique.
While the traditional yoga practiced for thousands of years was certainly more about preparing the body for meditation so we can conquer our busy minds and reach enlightenment, not everyone is ready or looking for that in a hot yoga class.
If you are looking for a workout, a way to release stress, or a way to lose weight, hot yoga can help you with that. Although it might not get you there any faster than a regular yoga class. The weight you lose in hot yoga is mostly water weight.
You might think that you are doing your body good sweating so much but you really might end up dehydrated which can cause tiredness, headaches, electrolyte and essential mineral depletion, and inflammation. Replenishing with water might not be enough. You likely need to re-hydrate with mineralized and electrolyte-enhanced water to balance all the excessive sweating.
Is Hot Yoga Bad For You?
No, hot yoga is good for you. Moving, stretching, and breathing is great!
Is hot yoga every day bad for you? Not if you are careful and educated about it. You must, as we mentioned, be very careful about not getting dehydrated and replace those essential minerals and electrolytes with a supplement and adequate nutrients. If you’re not doing that, going to a class every day may leave you feeling more lethargic than when you started. Also, hot yoga is not advised for people with certain conditions, so make sure to check with your physician!
Some people who are looking for a more meditative experience might find regular yoga that is a slower pace such as yin or restorative would better suit their needs. However, for those type-A people who really have their mind going on hyper-drive all the time, this might actually help your nervous system slow down and get you used to being present to help you get ready for a regular yoga class.
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You don’t have to wait until the yoga studios open back up to do meditation or breathwork. We have lots of guided meditations, yoga flows, and chakra healing articles to help you with your well being right now. If you’re still not sure if hot yoga is what you’re looking for, that’s probably because you haven’t experienced it. Try a hot yoga class and some regular sessions. Try a few different teachers to see the variety of experiences you can have in both.
Note: If you’re worried about germs spreading in a hot environment, well there is some validity to that. Bacteria can be more prevalent in a hot room so you would really want to make sure that the room is properly sanitized and bring your own mat. Pandemic or no pandemic, it’s best to only practice hot yoga in a studio that really does have a high standard of hygiene and a strict cleaning regimen.
Read About More Types of Yoga in the Ultimate Guide to Different Yoga Types.