Getting into strange, sweaty positions in a room full of strangers may sound more like a weird Saturday night than a way to exercise, but that is exactly what to expect when you step foot into a hot yoga studio. While there is an undeniable sense of accomplishment that comes from leaving any activity dripping in sweat, it can be difficult to fit into a hair washing schedule, stingy on the eyes and create an excessive amount of laundry. All things considered, is hot yoga actually any better for you than getting bendy at room temperature? We investigate:
Truth: Increased Flexibility
During a flexibility session it is best to stretch our muscles when they are already warm and more pliable. Hot yoga helps our body to achieve this state almost instantly, but the results are not always positive. It is possible to over stretch our muscles at the point where we take them beyond 20-25% of their rested length, causing damage and injury, the likelihood of which increases when we find ourselves with these incredibly warm and flexible muscles instantaneously. In order to obtain those extra bendy benefits, be mindful not to push the cobra pose too far.
Myth: Sweating Out Toxins
Our bodies sweat to cool themselves rather than to excrete toxins, leaving the detoxification process up to our liver and kidneys. Our sweat is made up of 99% water, and while tiny amounts of pesticides and chemicals may be excreted via our sweat, it is not physically possible to sweat out more than around 1% of the chemicals we consume via our food alone during a single day. The idea of sweating it out after big night may also leave us feeling worse, by further dehydrating the body and delaying recovery.
Truth: Increased Lung Capacity
Time spent in high temperatures, such as those of a sauna or hot yoga studio have been proven to increase lung capacity by around 10%. Additionally the deep breathing techniques practiced in yoga also improves lung elasticity and capacity. Both techniques have been proven to decrease symptoms in asthmatics in 8 weeks.
Myth: Lowers Body Fat
Hot yoga can leave you feeling lean and mean but the results are only temporary. Similar to the way bodybuilders dehydrate in order to make their muscles pop or boxer’s use a sauna to drop pounds for a weigh in, hot yoga can cause you to shed water weight temporarily, only to gain it back as soon as you rehydrate. In a study of 52 adults over 12 weeks completing either Bikram or room temperature yoga, the Bikram group did lose incrementally more body fat, but the results were so insignificant at less than 1%, that it was nothing to write home about.
Truth: Contributes To A Healthy Glow
A heated yoga session can leave you glowing long after the sweat has subsided. Hot yoga causes vasodilation, or enlargement of the blood vessels, this in turn promotes extra blood flow to the skin which increases the delivery of oxygen and nutrients. For this reason, individuals with rosacea and certain other skin conditions should avoid hot yoga, as increased blood flow to the skin can exacerbate symptoms. Otherwise, enjoy the lit from within look long after leaving the studio.
After thorough investigation we have come to the conclusion that although very hot and often dimly lit, hot yoga has very little to do with devil worship. While there are some added benefits to completing your practice in the heat, if the thought of all that sweat leaves you feeling less likely to turn up, stick to room temperature downward dogs and still reap many of the same benefits. Namaste.