“Ask the Expert” is a series is designed to identify well-respected professionals in various fields related to health, fitness and wellness and get their expert opinion on questions relating to their field of expertise. Today’s topic is … Hot Yoga. Although yoga is common in most health clubs, fitness centers and specialty studios, Hot Yoga is becoming more and more popular. This form of yoga practice is getting a lot of attention as Hot Yoga studios are opening up across the country and around the world at a furious pace!
Lisa Sullivan, Utah Regional Team Director for CorePower Yoga, has been a student of the Hot Yoga practice since 2004. As a Hot Yoga Teacher Trainer for CorePower Yoga since 2006, and assuming a leadership role at the new CorePower Yoga Highlands location in Salt Lake City, she brings a great deal of knowledge and expertise to today’s topic.
What is Hot Yoga?
LS: Although there are various types of yoga to choose from, Hot Yoga is a series of 26 postures performed in a room heated to approximately 105 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius). The postures are performed in a specific order to systematically work the entire body, toning muscles, promoting weight loss, reducing stress, and increasing overall vitality. Incorporating strength, balance, and flexibility, each pose stimulates the mind and restores the physical body. Each posture it typically performed two times each and a Hot Yoga class is typically 90 minutes in length (60 or 75 minute classes include the same 26 postures but some may only include one versus two sets).
Why are there so many different types of yoga?
LS: Over the years, yoga teachers developed different philosophies with respect to alignment of the body, class focus and/or flow. Each student has different needs and wants when it comes to the practice of yoga. This can vary based on body type, pre-existing injuries, and current conditions. Heat and humidity versus room temperature, stretch and restorative versus more vigorous and athletic, dynamic flow versus held postures, music versus verbal cues only, physical versus spiritual, or a hybrid that includes various aspects combined. There are a wide variety of yoga practices available to match these needs and expectations.
What are the key characteristics that differentiate Hot Yoga from other types of yoga?
LS: There are three (3) main characteristics:
- The heat index (temperature + humidity). At CorePower Yoga the room is approximately 102 to 103 degrees Fahrenheit with 40 to 45 percent humidity).
- Warm muscles are prepared to stretch and can do so more deeply.
- The body gets warm from the inside out and the outside in (less heat loss from your body).
- The series of postures is the same each time and provides students with:
- An opportunity to meditate while performing the movements.
- An opportunity to let go of the “fear of the unknown”.
- A measure of progress from class to class.
- The practice is cumulative in nature.
- Each posture stretches and strengthens specific muscles, ligaments and joints needed for the next posture in the series.
Please describe the Hot Yoga class experience (as a participant).
LS: There are five (5) words that come to mind:
- Challenging (The first class is always the hardest. By about the third class the participants begin to leave the class energized!)
- Journey (Hot Yoga provides a road to self discovery for those who are open to explore)
What three (3) tips would you give a Hot Yoga participant/student to ensure they get the most out of each class?
- Come to class well hydrated.
- Be a good listener.
- Accept where you are today (flexibility of the mind is necessary; flexibility of body is optional).
What is the recommended frequency for doing Hot Yoga?
LS: Although Hot Yoga could be done every day, I would suggest a schedule of two (2) days in a row, one day off and then repeat. For students who experience soreness after a Hot Yoga class, repeating the series the next day is a great way to alleviate these effects. Rest on the third day can help promote healing and recovery. Each individual should listen to what their body is telling them and do whatever feels right. Regardless, I would recommend at least one day of rest a week.
What are the benefits of Hot Yoga versus traditional exercise?
LS: Unlike traditional fitness clubs, a wide range of participants with various states of health can participate! In my years of teaching classes I have had students as young as 12 and well into their 80’s all in the same class together. Hot Yoga is both challenging and mentally/physically restorative at the same time. Those with injuries or illness can participate at the same time as those who are strong and well conditioned. All they need to do is make slight modifications and get the level of challenge that is right for their needs.
Hot yoga also systematically works/stimulates every muscle, ligament, tendon, organ, gland and nerve throughout the yoga series. The practice, ultimately, moves fresh oxygenated blood to 100 percent of the body during the 90 minute class.
The Hot Yoga practice provides even more physiological (and psychological) benefits:
- Promotes weight loss
- Relieves stress, anxiety and tension
- Raises one’s energy level
- Builds stamina and strength
- Relieves back pain
- Speeds up the healing process related to sports injury
- Regulates cholesterol in the blood
- Supplies oxygen and nutrients to stagnant parts of the body
- Eliminates toxins through sweat
- Flushes the lymphatic system
- Strengthens the immune system
- Balances the endocrine system
- Improves the spine’s health
- Expands lung capacity
- Strengthens the heart
- Lubricates joints
- Strengthens bones
- Improves posture and spinal alignment
- Increases mental well being and clarity
What type of person is best suited for the Hot Yoga practice (i.e. specific population, personality type)?
LS: Hot Yoga is safe and an effective form of exercise for people of all ages and abilities (over the age of 12 years). It is also a great compliment to the training regimes of any type of athlete.
Who shouldn’t do Hot Yoga (i.e. contraindications, medical conditions, etc.)?
LS: There are three (3) groups of individuals who should not do Hot Yoga:
- Pregnant women in their first trimester. Once a woman gets past her first trimester (and is already an experienced Hot Yoga student) she can participate with modifications to some exercises.
- Individuals who suffer from migraine headaches triggered by heat and/or humidity. Heat and humidity are known triggers for some individuals who suffer from migraine headaches.
- Children under 12 years of age.
How can the addition of Hot Yoga to a traditional workout/exercise program provide added benefit to getting results?
LS: Not only can Hot Yoga be the primary form of exercise for most people (stimulates the cardiovascular system, improves balance, flexibility, core strength, focus and breathing, Hot Yoga is also a great compliment to any form of physical activity or sport.
Ask the Expert – Questions, Comments or Suggestions?
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