While working out in a 100 degree room and perspiring profusely may sound like your worst nightmare, hot yoga has a long list of health benefits that are worth the sweat. It took six years into my practice for me to venture into a hot yoga class, where I finally learned what all the hype was about. I held myself back with thoughts similar to what you might be thinking…sweating that much sounds miserable, won’t I be slipping all over my mat, what if I can’t keep up with the rest of the class? After reading about the advantages of hot yoga and hearing countless friends rave about it, I decided to put my fears aside and give it a go. What I found is that the 90 minutes of sweating sure was worth the surge of endorphins I felt for the rest of the day, and here’s why.
Hot yoga has exploded as a popular new trend in the fitness industry that even attracts a slew of celebrities and athletes. So what about cranking up the heat transforms a regular yoga class into such a desirable workout? Practicing in a heated room speeds up your metabolism and pulse rate allowing more circulation and blood flow to the limbs, which in turn helps you burn more calories. While the sweating may sound scary, it works wonders for weight loss and flushing harmful toxins out of the body. The heat also allows your muscles to comfortably stretch harder and longer than usual, greatly increasing flexibility.
Besides physical benefits, hot yoga offers numerous mental benefits as well. Stress relief, inner confidence, mental endurance, and focus all stem from this practice. After walking out of a hot yoga class, I have a clear mind and body that, while very sweaty, feels strong and capable of taking on the day. Attention to breathing is yet another benefit, as when you add heat to yoga it’s even more important to breathe deeply and fully. This focus and repetition is a benefit on and off the mat, as it can be carried into your daily life to help you concentrate on any task at hand. Hopefully hot yoga’s laundry list of benefits has convinced you to try a class and if so, it’s important to remember a few tips in order to practice safely.
Drink lots of water before, during, and especially after your practice, eat a light snack, such as fruit or nuts, before class to stay fueled, and listen to your body to avoid pushing yourself too hard and causing injury. The first and probably most difficult step to a successful hot yoga practice is simply getting yourself onto the mat. Once you open yourself up to the physical and mental benefits of hot yoga, you’ll wonder why you were even scared of a little sweat in the first place.
Written by Katherine Wolf, student at Bella Prana