Hot yoga studios have recently begun springing up all over the world. This recent trend in yoga might seem puzzling to some who suffer through humid summers and working outdoors, but practitioners swear by it. The idea behind yoga in a heated room is that the body is more flexible when it is already warm, an idea substantiated by the millions of athletes who begin their practices or games by warming up. Bikram style is a form of hot yoga, gets a jump on warm-ups by heating the room to 105 degrees Fahrenheit and infusing it with 40 percent humidity. Some practitioners liken the experience to practicing asana in a sauna.
Why is it Popular?
If merely reading about heated yoga leaves you cringing and sweating, you might be wondering why people do it. Bikram yoga is one of the most popular forms of yoga in a heated space and one of the most specialized, and practitioners love it for many reasons.
First, Bikram proposes that a heated asana practice changes the body from the inside out and that practicing in the heat does a number of things for the physical body including opening pores, thinning blood, and allowing muscles to work under optimum conditions.
Second, most hot yoga practitioners leave a session feeling more flexible and relaxed, attributing this experience to the increased heat and moisture in the room.
Third, Bikram yoga practices the same 26 poses and two breathing exercises. According to Bikram, these postures sequenced correctly work every single part of the body. As a result, practitioners can be confident that the asana sequence they do in each class addresses their bodies’ needs.
Fourth, because the body has to work harder in the heat and humidity, a person derives greater cardiovascular benefits from practicing yoga in a warm room than he or she would from practicing hatha or vinyasa in air-conditioned studios.
Tips for Preparing for a Hot Yoga Class
For many, the heat of a Bikram yoga class can be overbearing, so be sure to wear proper clothing. Sweat-wicking material is best because of how much you will sweat.
You should bring a full-size towel along with your yoga mat to class with you. Sweatbands will also be useful.
Eat a light meal a few hours before class begins and be sure to hydrate with lots of water. You can avoid sugary sports drinks aimed at re-hydration if you drink water throughout the day, both before and after your yoga session.