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What Is Hot Yoga?

Posted 8/21/2017 by UHBlog

Do you know how to exercise safely based on your physical abilities and limitations? We can help.

What Is Hot Yoga?

Whether you’re a first-timer or an experienced yogi, have you ever considered turning up the heat on your workout?

“Hot yoga is just yoga in a heated room, but it can vary a lot from studio to studio,” says senior physical therapist Anna Cerveny. “Some are mildly heated 75 to 80 degrees, whereas others will be in the 90s.”

Hot yoga classes can range in temperatures from the mid-80s up to as hot as 105 to 115 degrees, depending on the type of class. But does the temperature really make a difference?

“An American Counsel of Exercise study taught two groups the same yoga class – one in the heat – and found there wasn’t a difference in core body temperature and heart rate between the groups,” Cerveny says. “They did notice the people in hot yoga felt like they were working harder, so it’s a mental game.”

However, there is some science behind heat training. According to Cerveny, it can expand blood plasma volume and increase oxygen transmission to blood vessels.

“That means people who train in the heat can perform better in the cool,” she says. “The heated environment can also loosen your muscles and improve your stretching.”

To safely practice hot yoga, Cerveny offers these three tips:

  1. Ease into it. Avoid injury by easing into a new routine.
    “It’s like training for a marathon,” she says. “You don’t run 20 miles on day one. You build up to it. With any exercise program, the same thing should happen by slowly building up repetition, intensity and sets.”
  2. Stay hydrated. In a hot yoga studio, you’re going to sweat a lot. Make sure to replenish fluids.
    “Any time you’re exercising in a heat-induced environment, you have to make sure you’re staying hydrated,” says Cerveny. “Additionally, you want to fuel your body correctly with fruits, vegetables and whole grains.”
  3. Pay attention to your body. There’s a difference between being uncomfortable and being in pain. Pushing through exercises and poses could lead to injury.
    “Patients come in who started working out to lose weight but then complain of a new injury,” Cerveny says. “If you go from no activity to even 30 minutes of activity with bad form, it’s easy to injure yourself. It takes time for your body to become strong in the right way.”

If you do feel pain during hot yoga, Cerveny suggests:

  • Stop and modify your pose
  • Apply ice
  • Rest
  • Speak with the yoga instructor about limitations

Even with these tips in mind, hot yoga isn’t safe for everyone.

“If you are heat sensitive, pregnant, have high blood pressure, heart conditions or diabetes, you should consult your doctor before practicing hot yoga,” Cerveny says.

Anna Cerveny, PT, DPT, is a senior physical therapist and dance rehabilitation specialist at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. You can request an appointment with Cerveny or any other health care provider online.

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