Yoga has been practiced for more than 5,000 years, so it's barely a "trend" but no doubt down at your local coffee shop your hearing groups of Lululemon clad women (and men) rave about their sweaty workout from the hour before.
So what is heated Yoga???
Lose the heavy clothing, grab your yoga mat, and turn up the heat.
Actually, keep turning up that heat until you get to 38 degrees. Oh -- and there's humidity too, typically 40% humidity -- are you hot enough yet?
So whats the buzz when it comes downward dog to it?
There are predominantly 2 types at the moment either hot box or Bikram. The main difference is the style of yoga and heat. I know you’re probably thinking what do you mean style (??) isn’t yoga yoga? But in fact there are many different styles of yoga which either come from different origins or focus on different practices (breathing, stretching, mind, power) see our post Namaste for a quick list of styles.
Hot yoga rooms are most commonly heated through an integrated use of modern technology, employing FIR radiant heating panels to enhance the wonderful benefits of yoga.
Far Infrared Rays are part of the sun's invisible spectrum. FIR radiant heat is a form of thermal energy. This is the warmth you feel penetrate your skin when you are outside in the sun. FIR light should not be confused with ultraviolet light which causes sunburn and damage to your skin. Far infrared rays do not cause sunburn or skin damage.
Far infrared rays are waves of energy, totally invisible to the naked eye, capable of penetrating deep into the human body (approx 4cm), where they gently elevate the body's surface temperature and activate major bodily functions.
Hot box yoga follows The Barkan Method is a style of hatha yoga that originated in Calcutta, India. The Barkan Method is form of Hot Yoga and finds its roots from the Bishnu Ghosh lineage, but also integrates postures from other styles of yoga to create variations and even greater range of motion.
We strengthen and stretch all areas of the body, which helps to quiet the mind, and nourish the soul. The movements of The Barkan Method reach deep into the tissue, relieve tension and stress, revitalize and assist in overcoming many physical and emotional problems, such as sciatica, back and neck problems, and depression.
The biggest difference between Hot box and Bikram other than style is the added 40% humidity (I’m sweating just thinking about it).
Bikram Yoga follows the principles of Bikram Choudhary. The room is intentionally heated to 38 degrees and also has an added humidity of 40% to warm up the body and assist with circulation, promoting detoxification and providing optimum conditions to improve the functions of the body's internal systems.
Bikram Yoga is a series of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises. Each posture stretches and strengthens specific muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints needed for the next posture. The Bikram method also stimulates the organs, glands, and nerves moving fresh oxygenated blood to 100% of the body helping to restore all systems to a healthy working order.
The series is dynamic and exhilarating. The series of postures combine skills of concentration, patience, determination and self-control that increase mental clarity and reduce stress. The room is heated to warm your muscles preventing injury and allowing for a deeper workout.
Both Hot yoga and Bikram maintain that there are many health benefits of hot yoga on top of the already physical benefits of yoga.
The heat provides a challenging environment which increases your strength, concentration, endurance and stamina. It also allows you to work safely and deeply into the postures, giving faster results. If that’s not reason enough
Here are 10 more:
1. Warm muscles burn fat more effectively.
2. When we stretch fat it has no where to sit so it redistributes back to the blood stream to then be reused as energy.
3. Speeds up the breakdown of glucose and fatty acids.
4. A warmer temperature produces a fluid like stretch that allows for greater range of motion in the joints.
5. Heart rate becomes elevated which improves the cardiovascular system (heart and lungs).
6. Blood becomes thinner which clears the circulatory system.
7. Promotes sweating which assists the detoxification process using the body's largest organ (the skin)
8. Muscles, fascia and connective tissue become more elastic allowing for greater flexibility with less chance of injury.
9. Capillaries respond to heat by dilating, this allows more oxygen to muscles, tissues glands and organs helping with the removal of waste products.
10. Teaches you determination, and focus in a challenging environment.
So what’s it actually like…
I hadn’t done a yoga class in about 5 years when I went to Hot box with my girlfriends. Not only did they have mats and towels on offer for the newey’s, the class was structured so well it allowed people like me (amateurs but flexible), like Ollie (the most amazing yoga man I’ve ever met) and like the young girl next to me (most uncoordinated person ever) fit right in. I made the rookie error of wearing my “yoga clothes” (read: pants and t shirt) and literally had to wring the sweat out afterwards. I would recommend a pair of tight shorts and singlet/crop and an extra exorbitant towel and about 1L of water. I was amazed at how well my body adapted to the class and the heat. I can definitely say I’ve never sweated so much in my entire life but I’ve also never felt so good. I walked out cloud 9 both mentally and physically, which is a win win for someone like me who trains most days and could definitely feel their flexibility getting away from them.