Hot yoga has become a very popular trend. Here are my thoughts on the benefits of hot yoga and my experience.
How often are we told to relax? We often hear that we need to set aside time for ourselves. We need to meditate. We should turn off our minds. Our minds are constantly at work. Most of us go to jobs five days a week for several hours each day. We attend meetings, send emails, have conversations with co-workers, perform the duties required in our roles, and so much more. Outside of work, we have personal lives, families, and friends who need us. The idea of completely checking out of our thoughts can be difficult for a lot of us. Throughout my journey to find a meditation regime, I found hot yoga.
I was always very critical of yoga. I had taken a few classes and deemed it to be a 60-minute session that consisted of “glorified stretching.” I wasn’t really engaged in the breathing exercises and overall didn’t feel like I was benefiting personally. I was also turned off by the fact I was burning less than 100 calories in each 60-minute session when I could have been burning 550-660 calories through one of my standard workouts.
A good friend of mine, who also workouts regularly (and has an incredible body) had recently added yoga to her routine. She was visiting a studio several times a week, I was immediately intrigued! I told her about my reservations, mainly that I didn’t want to waste time for such a low-calorie burn. She mentioned the studio’s “Sculpt” class.
Yoga Sculpt is defined as:
“When muscle meets yoga, Yoga Sculpt is born. Boost metabolism and build lean muscle mass as you move to upbeat tracks. You’ll combine free weights with intermediate level yoga sequencing and cardio to intensify each yoga pose while mixing in strength-training moves like squats, lunges, and bicep curls.”
The Yoga Sculpt class is performed in a heated room of 92-95 degrees with no added humidity.
Yoga Sculpt was the first class I took at a studio that supports hot yoga. I WAS IN LOVE! The class was challenging, the instructor was engaging, and I loved how the heated room added an additional boost to my heart rate level.
Each class begins with each student mentally setting an intention for their practice. An intention is bringing your attention and awareness to a quality or virtue you wish to cultivate for your practice both on and off your mat. Examples include patience, gratitude, letting go of negativity, etc.
The class included squats, lunges, bicep curls, jumping jacks, chaturangas, and so much more. During the class, I realized I had never heard the term “chaturanga.” I also realized that if I had done one in a yoga class years ago, then I definitely wasn’t doing it with proper form. It’s challenging!
You start from a plank with your hands under elbows, elbows over shoulders, core engaged, and heels pushing back.
From there you roll your toes forward, and you begin to slowly lower down until your arms are at a 90-degree angle
You finish the sequence by moving into an Upward Facing Dog with the legs stretched back, tops of feet/toes on the floor, elbows bent, palms spread on the floor below the waist, inhale, press inner hands into the floor, and press the tailbone out.
The class concluded with a relaxation and meditation session called savasana. To be honest, this may have been the most difficult portion of the class for me. The ability to completely relax and shut your mind off can be incredibly tricky. The pose allows you to gradually enter a truly relaxed state. The music completely changed from fast and upbeat to more calming and soothing tones. Savasana is a practice of gradually relaxing one body part at a time, one muscle at a time, and one thought at a time. It conditions the body to release stress and is thought to improve your sense of physical and emotional well- being. I struggled to completely relax initially. During my first session, I’m not sure if I ever relaxed fully, but I definitely could feel a large release of energy.
After class, I felt drained but upbeat at the same time. I was so thankful I had gone. I had burned over 600 calories! I wanted to try out more classes. I then became addicted to hot yoga, which is performed in a heated room of 95 degrees +. No weights, squats, or lunges are performed in hot yoga. The sequences are much more tension relief focused. I began adding hot yoga to my weekly workout routine at the end of the week as a recovery workout. I lift weights and do cardio throughout the week. By the weekend my entire body is sore. The heat from hot yoga, coupled with the fluid movements, allows me to release so much tension in my muscles, not to mention toxins!
I love the aura of most yoga studios. Most yoga instructors are committed to the success of your practice. They are encouraging and have a huge impact on my ability to master challenging poses. The heat within the studio is relaxing to me. There is a big difference in how I feel in a heated room. I feel as though I can push myself further because the heat helps keep me centered.
I recommend hot yoga to anyone who is looking to practice meditation. Keep in mind it can also serve as an amazing recovery workout.