To "hot" or not


There is a lot of discussion around hot yoga and it’s benefits and drawbacks. I can only draw from my own experiences of it and what works for me. As always, the opinion of your personal doctor and your experience and knowledge is what counts.

Not all yoga is good for all people.
Oh…let’s repeat that.
Not all yoga is good for all people.

We all come from various backgrounds and experiences. Some of us have had health issues that prevent us from doing certain types of postures. That doesn’t mean that yoga is bad or that we may not overcome some of these issues. But what it does invite us to do is be very in-tune with our bodies and what’s going on with them.

Some of hot yoga benefits are detoxification, improving joint mobility, flexibility, increased circulation. There’s even studies going on that tout the benefits for diseases such as Hepatitis C. (Squires, http://www.yogajournal.com/health/585)

Some of the downside are potential for dehydration, heat exhaustion, heatstroke, and overstretching muscles.

My experience with hot or heated yoga came through my own teacher training. Learning vinyasa in a heated room was at first a really aggravating experience. My first experience with heat was overwhelming, the river of sweat that ran off me in down dog was embarrassing. Over time, I got used to it, and even “enjoyed” it for a while. I enjoyed the flexibility that I got when I was in a heated room versus not being in a heated room. I went to an early morning class once that wasn’t heated and I could barely go into some postures, I just wasn’t warmed up enough. When in heated rooms, my muscles were already warm and it enabled me to go into postures and hold them longer. I went into the hot style classes a few times but really became overwhelmed and experienced dehydration and heat exhaustion.

In reading more about it, and learning more about myself, this type of yoga isn’t recommended for someone like me with my dosha type, nor is it recommended for people who have experienced heat exhaustion. Hot yoga is also not recommended for people with the following conditions: Pregnancy, high or low blood pressure issues, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, eating disorders, sleep deprivation, a history of heat-related illness, and being overweight. (Waxman, http://www.yogajournal.com/practice/1186)

Would I do “hot” yoga again? Yes. Under what conditions? I have found that on a very cold day, if I start the day with a heated vinyasa class, it warms me from the inside out. I actually do enjoy it. But I have to take precautions. I make sure that I am properly hydrated, not just that morning, but the entire day before. I make sure that when I’m in postures experiencing that extra stretching capability, that I am firming the other muscles to make sure I don’t go too far. And I since I don’t attend heated room classes on a regular basis, I lessen my risk for heat related conditions. And how hot is too hot for me? Anything over 80 degrees. Most heated vinyasa classes go from 93-100 and 40-60% humidity, hot style 105 with 40-60% humidity. Too hot for me. I have to stay in tune with what works for me. Not “if it’s hotter I’ll go farther” but what is the benefit of this type of yoga for me? Does this really work for me? Why do I need to do this today? Is this my ego talking or is it that I really would enjoy the warmth? Am I experiencing any muscle strain that might be aggravated if I go too deep?

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