Many of you know that I do hot yoga as a form of exercise. A lot of you ask me, “What is hot yoga and is it really that good for you?” Let me start off by saying that I have experienced the benefits of hot yoga, and I’m hooked! My entire life, I’ve been a huge cardio junkie and never cared for yoga because it was too slow and I never felt like I was getting a good work out. I didn’t give yoga enough of a chance, and my perceptions were definitely wrong.
My first hot yoga class was last September (2010) at Hot Yoga Nashville, and I can’t say that the first class was amazing because it was hard getting used to working out in the heat. Yet, the feeling I had afterwards is honestly what brought me back again and again. The more that you go, the better it feels. It’s hard to describe to you, so you should try to experience it for yourself. The month of January, I did hot yoga 4-5 times a week. That month, I felt better, my mood was lifted, my stress levels were diminished dramatically, and I had so much more energy. After the month was over, I went to the gym to lift weights, and when I started doing lunges with dumbbells, I couldn’t believe how easy they were. Right then, I realized just how much hot yoga had strengthened my legs. Hot yoga is one of the ways I de-stress when life gets overwhelming. It’s very important that you have an outlet for your stress because the toll it takes on your body can be extremely harmful. The effects of stress are listed here.
What is Hot Yoga?
Hot yoga is a scientifically-designed series of postures that systematically stimulate the muscles, organs and glands, as well as the nervous system. As you progress through the postures, you move freshly-oxygenated blood throughout the entire body. The studio is heated to approximately 100°-105° so that your muscles are warmed, which helps prevent injury, and it allows you to go deeper into the stretches/poses. Sweating helps to cleanse your body from toxins through the skin.
Benefits of Hot Yoga:
Yoga builds strength and flexibility to the entire body. “A recent study at the University of California at Davis found that 90 minutes of yoga practice four times a week over eight weeks increased muscular strength up to 31%, muscular endurance up to 57%, and flexibility up to 188% in a group of healthy college students.” The average calorie burn is 600-800 per class. People who practice frequently lose inches of fat, develop muscle tone, and increase strength, flexibility, balance, and coordination. Many athletes with injuries practice hot yoga in hopes to avoid surgery by strengthening their muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Runners love hot yoga as they are able to shave seconds and even minutes off their race time. Hot yoga also helps to:
- Accelerate weight loss
- Reduce stress
- Lower blood pressure
- Relieve headaches
- Increase energy
- Promote relaxation
- Lessen menopausal symptoms
- Reduce arthritic pain
- Improve coordination
- Increase strength
- Build stamina
- Restore healthy immune system
- Improve functioning of circulatory system
Hot yoga is for all fitness levels. The classes are full of people with different levels of ability, so don’t let that scare you. We are all beginners at some point. I have experienced the benefits first hand, as have many others. If you’re in a city that offers hot yoga or bikram yoga, you should definitely give it a try! Namaste!
Kristen M. Pardue, RD, LDN