Relaxation is essential to achieving one of the primary goals of yoga: peace of mind. While meditation on its own can reach the same goal, the connection between the mind and body facilitates the experience. As the body relaxes, so does the mind. Careful exercise under hot and humid conditions makes it easier for muscles to warm up and helps to increase their range of motion.
As yoga originated in Southern India, some teachers believe that replicating that region’s warm, humid climate helps to create an authentic and effective yoga experience. Among the native peoples of America’s Northwest, however, using heat to help achieve mental relaxation is a centuries-old tradition. Before the arrival of Western explorers, the people who populated the state of Washington’s river valleys for millennia, employed sweat lodges for a variety of spiritual ceremonies.
Hot yoga relaxation pays homage to this native tradition, combining the best of Eastern and Western philosophies for a new take on the hot yoga style. In the Native American tradition, the sweat lodge is a symbolic center. It is the place where past and present come together and where the human experience finds a connection with the spiritual experience. This focus lends itself well to yoga disciplines that share similar goals.
Exercises in the modern hot yoga relaxation technique consist of traditional poses or asanas that are performed slowly and carefully, gently stretching the muscles. The heated room not only helps to increase the body’s flexibility, but causes the body to perspire more freely, releasing accumulated toxins. Contrary to popular belief, perspiration is healthy. Perspiration actually kills common skin bacteria.
The best teachers of the technique tailor their classes to each individual student’s level of ability, encouraging students to work according to their own capability. The goal is a meditative understanding of the union of body, mind and spirit rather than a purely physical, competitive goal. The best studios ensure that the air circulates with an effective ventilation system and ensure hygienic conditions with enhancements such as anti-microbial floors. Teachers also encourage their students to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
In today’s modern world, opportunities to spend time relaxing are few and far between. Opportunities to achieve physical and mental relaxation are even less common. Hot yoga offers people the chance to achieve a level of peace of mind while enhancing their overall strength, alignment, stamina and flexibility. Local studios offer people a place to improve their health in mind and body.