Hot yoga is a great way to condition your body without punishing it. While lockdowns and social distancing played a role in reducing exposure to the Covid-19 virus, they also played a harsh role in our overall health and wellbeing – most of us packed on a little Covid cushioning. One of the most important things to remember is to not be too self-critical.
Hot yoga has grown in popularity during the last several years and offers many of the same benefits as traditional yoga. The difference, however, is that with the addition of a heated room, hot yoga can provide a greater, more intense workout. Research suggests that hot yoga improves balance as well as full-body strength and range of motion. The warmer environment helps increase flexibility and muscle suppleness, allowing you to stretch much deeper.
Evidence suggests that yoga practitioners have more gray matter in multiple brain regions, which can help manage chronic pain. Chronic pain impacts everything from our muscles to our energy levels and our mindset. One can argue that hot yoga helps individuals cope with the emotional aspects of chronic pain, reduce anxiety and depression, and improve one’s perceived quality of life.
While “hot yoga” and “Bikram yoga” are used interchangeably, they are different forms. Bikram yoga uses a room heated to 105°F with 40 percent humidity. On the other hand, hot yoga uses a room heated typically between 80 and 100°F. However, it is important to realize that it does not mean that you will burn more fat just because the room is warmer. The point of hot yoga is the warmer the room, the easier it is for your muscles to stretch, thus increasing blood flow, greater range of motion, and greater mobility.
Fear alone can suck the Zen out of most classes. The pandemic has left many yogis and their practices off-balance. Many now opt to bring their own mats and gear to class now that they are more aware of the downfalls of group classes and close contact activities.
The face of hot yoga has changed during the last year, including class sizes, the ability to schedule private sessions, and the option to pre-register for smaller groups. Floors and shared props are sanitized regularly – often between sessions. If you are not sure about a studio’s Covid-19 changes, call and ask – and no, it’s not weird to ask someone to move back just a little bit. Generally, even under pre-pandemic conditions, if you can reach out and touch someone during a yoga class, you are too close.
Group fitness anxiety is real, and returning to the gym should not be taken lightly. Not only have gyms and studios changed during the last year, but members have as well. People are now making healthier decisions, including staying home when they don’t feel quite right and taking a more active role in keeping the facilities clean. Hot Yoga is perfect if you are looking to get back into the swing of fitness.
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