Hot Yoga studios are popping up around bases everywhere – why? Hot yoga is a challenging workout – just as challenging as a hard run or strength training session – but with added benefits of injury prevention, improved flexibility and stress relief. So, it appeals to both military spouses and the rough-and-tough mentality of Marines.
What is Hot Yoga
Hot yoga is exactly what it sounds like – yoga done in a heated room. Temperatures can vary anywhere from 95 degrees to 108 degrees, depending on the school and yoga style. Yogis believe the heat helps eliminate toxins, challenge the cardiovascular system and stretch your muscles. It also bumps up the number of calories you burn – a 90 minute Bikram Yoga class can burn as many as 600 calories.
What Should I Expect?
Different studios offer different hot yoga experiences.
The “original” Hot Yoga is called Bikram yoga. There are hundreds of Bikram studios around the world and each studio teaches exactly the same class – 90 minutes of 26 body positions and 2 breathing exercises – every single day. Sticking to the same sequence allows your body to change gradually and safely. You’ll hold each posture for 30 to 60 seconds, giving you a chance to master the technique, develop endurance and truly stretch muscles. This sequence is unique because it’s concentrates on the health of your spine by moving it in all three directions.
Hundreds of other studios offer every flavor of hot yoga you can dream of. Some offer the traditional 90 minute class, while many have created 60 and 75 minute classes to cater to busy schedules. Some studios teach the same class format every time, while others allow teachers to change the class format regularly.
Typically, classes come in two categories: Hot Yoga and Hot Flow Yoga. A flow class is different from the traditional hot yoga because you “flow” from one posture to the next with little rest, often spending just a few moments in a posture before moving on the next. These classes can certainly get your heart rate up. However, they’re challenging for beginners and injured students because there isn’t much time to find your balance or master a position.
Is Hot Yoga for Everyone?
You should always consult your doctor before starting a new exercise program. With that said, a good hot yoga class is for every body – from the strongest athlete to a 96 year old man. People from all walks of life have benefited from yoga, including children, victims of severe car accidents and cancer patients. Just take each position step by step, according to your own ability and rest as often as you need to. It’s common for a beginner student to sit down several times per class.
Is Hot Yoga Safe and Good For You?
Isn’t it dangerous to exercise in the heat?
Exercising in the heat is safe if your internal core temperature doesn’t rise to dangerous levels. Many people assume that being in the heat raises your internal core temperature, but it often doesn’t. Your body has built-in temperature regulation (for example, sweating) that helps keep you at a constant temperature. However, you have to prime yourself for success. Beginners often turn red and feel dizzy because they don’t drink enough water before class. Or, they hold their breath and deprive the brain of oxygen. You should be fine provided you hydrate before class and focus on keeping your breathing normal.
Now Go Try It!
All you need is a yoga mat, a towel for over your mat (a beach towel or bath towel is fine), water and comfortable clothes. Most studios offer great deals on classes for new students. Likewise, most offer discounts for active duty military personnel and their families.