Heat sets you free – Baron Baptiste
I have just done a hot yoga class (the thermometer said 37degrees!) and so I feel kind of inspired to explain what the benefits of hot yoga are and is it better than normal yoga?
When I first came to yoga I usually did classes in a heated room, but this was pure coincidence. I didn’t know why I was doing yoga at such a hot temperature and I definitely didn’t understand the changes taking place on a deeper level because of the heat.
Since changing studios, I have started doing more yoga at room temperature, because this is more of what the the new studio offers. The room still gets hot because of the people moving and ujjayi breathing, but I definitely don’t sweat as much. This has meant that when I actually do a heated class I notice the difference!
For me the main thing was I felt a lot more supple. Because of the heat all my muscles were relaxed and the class I did today felt super easy. This isn’t to say that ‘hot yoga’ is easier, but it definitely feels less stiff in the joints. Often teachers compare muscles to glass, saying that you cannot shape glass until it is heated and fluid, the same for our muscles. Practicing hot yoga can be safer, because when we are warm we are less likely to injure and strain ourselves. The heat also means we can go deeper into poses, although we still have to be mindful when doing this! Heat can be especially helpful to backbends, for we can only go into them properly when our back muscles are warmed up and will bend.
Another benefit of hot yoga is that it detoxifies the body. The heat makes us sweat twice as much, and this releases toxins, excess fluids and metabolic debris from the body. When we sweat out these substances it gives our liver and kidneys a well deserved rest.
The heat is HEALING. All that doesn’t belong is burned away and released, both emotional and physical. The heat of the yoga studio can lead to spiritual regeneration. It can set you free.
I definitely found that today in my class. The heat burned away my thoughts and the more I embraced it the more enjoyment I got out of my flow.
Sometimes practicing in a really hot room, especially when we are not used to it, can be uncomfortable and distracting. But try to see the temperature in a positive way and not negative, this will make it a lot easier. Tell yourself that you like the heat and list the reasons why it is good for you. Stop fighting it and relax. If you get too hot you can slow down your practice, take a child’s pose or use a cooling breath. Don’t let the heat stop you, just adapt to it.
To sum up:
Heat is good for our yoga practice because:
- It protects our body from injury (because it softens our muscles) \
- It can be healing, both physically and mentally
- We can go even deeper into our practice, discovering things that we haven’t before
There are multiple ways you can generate heat, even if you don’t go to a hot yoga class:
- By ujjayi breathing
- Using movement- flow faster to generate more heat
- Others (e.g. wear more or thicker clothes, practice somewhere in your house that is naturally hotter..)
Hot yoga definitely isn’t the be all and end all. Some people like it and some people don’t. It really is just a case of trying it and seeing whether it works for you. Get curious and don’t be too quick to judge.
Personally I do hot yoga once or twice a week and this works well for me, any more and I start to not notice the benefits. But again see what works for you.