Yoga is an ancient practice that originate din India thousands of years ago, but has since spread to all corners of the world. Yoga is unique as compared to other forms of exercise because it is a practice that encompasses physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual elements.
A meditative tool that brings peace to body, mind, and spirit, yoga is practiced by more than 300 million people around the world.
One of the biggest reasons that it appeals to so many is for its profound ability to bring wellness in all aspects of the practitioners being, including that of the body, mind, and spirit.
In our fast paced, stress filled world, those who practice yoga find exceptional stress relief and profound energy renewal.
Health Benefits Of Yoga
The health benefits of yoga are plentiful and wide reaching as numerous studies have shown, but those who practice yoga regularly don’t need studies to tell them what they already know and that is that yoga has profound benefits for their physical, emotional and mental health.
Here Are Just Some Of The Great Benefits Of Yoga:
- Scientific research shows that only 8 weeks of yoga can improve concentration and motivation
- Improves blood circulation to the brain improving focus and memory skills
- Greatly reduces stress and anxiety and helps alleviate depression
- Regular practice helps control the secretion of hormones in the body that helps to balance and improve overall physical and emotional health
- Yoga poses support the building of a strong lymphatic system that boosts immunity and eliminates toxins from the body
- Reduces risk for heart disease and improves overall cardiovascular health
- Helps with weight loss on both an emotional and physical level. On the emotional level, it supports weight loss through the element of mindfulness that teaches the practitioner to listen to their body, which includes identifying genuine hunger signals
- Alleviates and diminishes symptoms of Carpal tunnel syndrome, allergies, arthritis, asthma, cancer, migraines and Multiple Sclerosis
- Offers cardio, flexibility, strength training, muscle toning, balance training and improved posture
- Dominates the sub cortex part of the brain that is associated with well-being
- The controlled breathing provides practitioners with more energy following workouts and less fatigue than other forms of exercise
- Promotes healthy blood circulation and boosts blood flow that results in healthier organs, brain and skin
- Provides a total body workout because it brings balance to opposing muscle groups
- Improves range of motion and hand to eye coordination
- Works the entire body to improve endurance, and many professional athletes use it as part of their training
- Lower blood pressure by improving and supporting healthy blood circulation and oxygenation
- Improves digestion
- Helps with pain management, including that seen in chronic conditions like arthritis and fibromyalgia
- Builds a stronger core and improves posture
- Promotes the detoxification process in the body, which, delays the effects of aging
- Improved body control, relaxation, and self-confidence
- Promotes high levels of energy after and in between practice sessions
- Yoga offers a unique mind-body connection that brings profound feelings of internal calm and peace
- Lowers cholesterol thereby reducing risk for heart disease and high blood pressure
- Reduces risk for osteoporosis by strengthening the bones and lowering levels of cortisol in the body that preserves calcium levels in the bones
- Alleviates symptoms of arthritis, asthma, cancer, migraines, Multiple Sclerosis, carpal tunnel syndrome, allergies, scoliosis, chronic bronchitis, epilepsy, sciatica, obsessive compulsive disorder and constipation
Fitness Benefits Of Yoga
Yoga is unique and offers distinct and unique benefits that other workouts simply cannot.
- It has a much lower risk for injury than other workouts.
- It offers a cardio-strengthening workout, tones muscles, improves posture, and supports balance training.
- At the same time, it stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system that slows breathing and lowers blood pressure for deep healing and relaxation.
There are many different schools of yoga, and Bikram is a unique practice that is performed in a heated room, anywhere from to 105 degrees Fahrenheit to 110 degrees Fahrenheit with a humidity level of 40%.
Created by Bikram Choudhury, who was a 1963 Olympic weightlifting gold medalist, Bikram is based on the belief that doing yoga in a hot room results in:
Allowing the body to stretch, detoxify, heal pain, relieve stress, and tone muscle.
Bikram is comprised of a sequence of 26 postures and 4 breathing exercises that are performed within 90 minutes in a heated room.
The Benefits Of Bikram
- Bikram theory subscribes to the idea that a heated environment is ideal to make the body more flexible, which allows the practitioner to perform the poses more effectively than without heat.
- Heat also offers cleansing benefits by opening sweat glands to flush out toxins in the body.
- Doing yoga in a hot room is also believed to increase the supply of oxygen to the body and allow it to use it more effectively.
Uses And Goals
People who practice Bikram do so for a variety of reasons:
- Weight loss is one such reason as Bikram is said to burn 500 or more calories in a 90-minute session. However, many experts caution that this is a gross exaggeration and that most disciplines of yoga, from the very mildest to the most intense power classes will only burn about 3 to 7 calories per minute.
- It is also practiced for its ability to improve flexibility and muscle tone
- Improving stamina
- Detoxing the body of various toxins through the profuse sweating that takes place in a Bikram class. Again, experts caution that there is no evidence that toxins are released through sweat, or what those might be.
- The deep stretching techniques in Bikram make it a good alternative for those recovering from injuries.
Hot yoga is a term used to describe a yoga class that is also performed in a temperature-controlled environment, typically anywhere from 95 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit with a humidity level of 40%, but unlike Bikram yoga, hot yoga does not follow the prescribed series of 26 poses and four specific breathing techniques.
In many studios, hot yoga follows the flowing Vinyasa style practice of yoga, which is reminiscent of a dance, where the practitioner flows from one pose to the next.
Hot yoga has gained immense popularity in the United States and has become a significant element in yoga practice. Many yoga studios across the country offer hot yoga with classes being offered in the standard Bikram style, the Vinyasa version performed in a hot room and others.
All forms of hot yoga stem from the original Bikram School, though they are named differently, mainly due to legal copyright issues raised by Choudhury, the founder of Bikram.
Hot Yoga Comes In Varies Forms And Names:
- Vinyasa School of yoga is also offered in heated rooms and is the most typical form found in studios that offer hot yoga. It is less intense than the Bikram regimen.
- Forrest Yoga is a practice that blends poses with Native American spirituality
- TriBalance Yoga is another type of hot yoga that is practiced in a less humid room
- Power Yoga follows guidelines from the Ashtanga Yoga school but is made into more of a power style workout
- Moshka Yoga is hot yoga that uses a succession of 40 poses
Benefits Of Hot Yoga
Those who teach hot yoga and practice it rave about its various benefits, and how this unique practice supports wellbeing in a variety of ways.
- According to, Mandy Ingber, author of Yogalosophy: 28 Days to the Ultimate Mind-Body Makeover, the routine in hot yoga classes is repetitive, and when the practitioner is doing the same poses repeatedly it allows for better evaluation of progress from one class to the next.
- Performing yoga of any kind in a heated and highly humid room increases metabolism and pulse rate, which allows the blood vessels to become more flexible supporting calorie burning.
- Hot yoga promotes healthy blood circulation that increases blood flow to the limbs.
- One of the most important benefits of hot yoga is stress reduction.
- Elimination of toxins from the body is often cited as one of the main reasons for doing hot yoga. However, experts caution that there is little evidence to support this statement because no one really knows what is eliminated from the body during heavy sweating besides water. Dr. Sat Bir Singh Khalsa who teaches at Harvard Medical School, authored the book “Your Brain On Yoga,” and is also a certified yoga instructor states that the promise of toxins being released during hot yoga is vague and unfounded since no one really knows what it means, what is being detoxed, released, or flushed. It would seem that more clarity is needed as to this supposed benefit of hot yoga. Truth be told, it is the kidneys that eliminate waste from the body.
- Finally, and for many most important is that the practice of hot yoga is truly a “mind over matter” practice. The ability to perform in a very hot and humid room is not for the faint at heart and takes a high level of commitment. Being able to complete these classes results in a high level of confidence that leaves practitioners feeling like there is nothing they cannot accomplish in terms of exercise and in life.
9 Realities Of Hot Or Bikram Yoga
1| Get Doctor Clearance
Working out in a sauna level heated room is not for everyone, and certainly not for those with certain medical conditions, make sure to ask your doctor before you start. Those who have heart disease, have ever had a heat-related condition like heat stroke or any kind of heat intolerance problems should avoid this practice. Hot or Bikram yoga is also not safe for pregnant women.
2| Should Not Replace Traditional Cardio
The heated environment in hot yoga classes is believed to speed up heart rate, which results in a more vigorous workout. However, some experts caution that it is hardly enough of an increase to replace more traditional forms of cardio.
In 2013, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) conducted a study that examined the effects of hot yoga on heart rate and core temperature. They found that people do not work as hard in hot yoga as they think. While the subjects perceived the workout to be challenging because they worked out in a heated room, and certainly, they may have felt challenged the actual effects of the heat on heart rate and body core temperature were not much different from classes performed in a neutral temperatures.
Start class well hydrated, and drink at least 9 cups of water throughout the day before class. If you wait and try to take it all at once, you can get an upset stomach that may cause nauseas during class. During exercise, drink frequently and early, before actual thirst hits, as the goal is to replenish fluids at the same rate you are sweating. The maximal rate of replacement is, between 20 to 40 oz. per hour, which is based on absorption of fluids by the stomach.
It’s best to two or more hours before class, and not eat anything within two hours of starting. Eat something like a banana or some complex carbs two or more hours before class time to get the energy necessary to complete the workout.
5| Acclimate To The Heat
Don’t rush into class just as it’s starting. Come early, sit still on the mat, and let your body acclimate to the heat of the room.
6| Appropriate Attire
Wear breathable material clothing; shorts above the knee and sports bras are always good options.
7| Listen To Your Body
This type of exercise in high heat is not for everyone. The heavy sweating that comes from doing exercise in a very hot room may lead to dehydration, and decreased blood pressure. Weakness, dizziness, muscle cramps, headache, lightheadedness, and nausea are all signs of poor heat tolerance. If you start to feel sick from heat, a condition known as heat exhaustion, it is best to stop and leave the room for a cooler environment to return the body to a state of homeostasis, as not doing so may lead to heat stroke, a very serious condition that in most cases requires hospitalization.
8| Know Your Limits
If you feel real pain or discomfort during any of the poses, it is important to back off and take it easy. In yoga, less is more and aggression does not serve you.
9| Set The Waterfall Free
It’s normal practice to let the sweat just drip on your body in any hot yoga or Bikram class, and not to use a towel to wipe it off because sweat is the body’s acclamatory adjustment to heat and helps to keep it cool, so when you wipe it disrupts this process of self-regulation. However, do bring a big towel or several to be sure and cover your yoga mat to prevent slipping as the sweat hits the mat.
Keep An Open Mind
It’s important to take at least 3 classes before deciding if hot yoga is for you, as often the first time is not enough to make an intelligent assessment and yoga trainers swear that the second class is the fun class.