One of the most common questions people ask me about hot yoga is, “is it safe?” Definitely a valid question if you don’t know the reasons why we heat the room.
The short answer is yes, it is safe — but of course, if you have prior medical conditions or any worries, it’s best to consult your doctor beforehand. The temperature of the hot room changes studio by studio. At Modo Yoga, the studios are generally heated to a temperature of approximately 40°C with about 40 per cent humidity. Make sure to hydrate before class!
Some people wonder if hot yoga can increase the body’s core temperature or heart rate to unsafe levels, but it actually helps regulate the body. If ever you feel dizzy, take a seat, lie down or come into child’s pose.
What happens when we practice?
Practicing in the heat has many benefits, including detoxifying the body, building strength and flexibility, improving the breath and increasing mental focus.
Let’s get a little technical for a second. The autonomic nervous system is responsible for controlling your body’s involuntary functions, such as breathing, heartbeat and digestion. It is divided into two main divisions: sympathetic (commonly referred to as fight of flight) and parasympathetic (rest and digest.)
In hot yoga, we purposely create a sympathetic environment — one that can be stressful on the body. From there, using the breath, we learn to ignite our parasympathetic system. Have you ever felt anxious and had someone try to calm you down by telling you to take deep, long breaths? It’s the same concept. Learning to do this in the safe, controlled environment of a hot room can help people better manage stressful situations outside fthe studio.
What are the benefits of the heat?
- It stimulates thermoregulation to allow your body to maintain its core internal temperature.
- It creates vasodilation, the dilatation of blood vessels, which decreases blood pressure.
- It softens the fascia — connective tissue that runs through our entire body, just under the skin. Fascia is made primarily of collagen; it stabilizes and surrounds muscles, nerves, blood vessels and internal organs.
- It encourages focus, through breathing and meditation.
- It strengthens the immune system by releasing T-cells, which hunt down and destroy cells in the body that are infected.
- It helps detoxify the body, not through sweat, but through breathing (one of the best ways to cleanse your body) and stimulating organs like the liver and kidneys.
- It can reduce the symptoms of depression.
A lot of people who start doing yoga on a regular basis find many personal benefits, including a more positive outlook on life, reduced physical pain and lower stress levels.
What are some of the benefits you’ve experienced from yoga?
Articles consulted for this blog post:
- Effects of yoga on depression and anxiety of women
- Hot yoga and pregnancy: fitness and hyperthermia
- A pilot study of a hatha yoga treatment for menopausal symptoms
- Self-reported benefits and adverse outcomes of hot yoga participation
- Impact of hot yoga on arterial stiffness and quality of life in overweight/obese adults
- Hot yoga: Energizing, rejuvenating, healing
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