Some Like It Hot
by Sasha Kanal
Join Sasha Kanal on the mat as she looks at the restorative practice of Hot Yoga, the perfect warming exercise for body and soul as autumn sets in
Hot Yoga has become something of a trend in the UK over the past 10-15 years. While the jury is still out on whether the high temperatures are of any real benefit, there’s no denying that yoga in general offers real, sustained health benefits to those partaking.
The 5000 year old tradition has come a long way from its sacred origins in India and now in 2018, every town and gym in Britain has a yoga studio with varying types on offer from beginners to advanced classes.
Developed in the 1970’s, Hot Yoga is an umbrella term for any type of yoga practiced in a heated atmosphere. Ideally for it to be called ‘Hot Yoga’ it should be practised in a room with a temperature of between 32-40 degrees centigrade and a humid atmosphere, making it a different experience to your normal workout. A word of warning however; there may be a risk of heat intolerance and over stretching muscles for those that are unfit or beginners. Make the teacher aware if you are new or have any health concerns or existing injuries.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
- Heart Health: Your heart benefits a great deal from practising yoga of any kind, although scientific evidence is limited in this research. However, the combination of gentle exercise, which strengthens muscles, breathing deeply and de-stressing with relaxation and meditation are all winners for maintaining a healthy heart.
- Feel The Burn: Yoga is known to burn calories just like any other exercise, and like many other exercises has a whole host of other health benefits as well; from improving your flexibility and balance, helping you to sleep and even helping fight stress, anxiety and depression. Anecdotally, many people I know who practise Hot Yoga, tell me that the extra heat helps to warm their muscles up and gives a boost to their stretches and feels particularly good on a cold winter’s day!
- Sweat it Out: Although there is no scientific evidence to say that Hot Yoga actually detoxifies through profuse sweating, (that’s the job of your liver and kidneys!), the feeling of perspiring is a welcome one for many fans of the practice. Says Rachael, a mum and Hot Yoga devotee from Sussex, “I’m a big fan of Hot Yoga as I find it really invigorating. Not only does the heat allow my muscles to stretch that bit further, I love the way that perspiring lots helps you feel purged and cleansed both mentally and physically!”
The day before you practice and on the day itself, stay hydrated in anticipation of the heat. Bring a spare towel and change of clothes to keep you fresh after the session.
CAUTION: If you have any long-standing health concerns, always consult your GP if you’re starting a new exercise.