Hot Yoga 101: Time To Get Stretching

Russell Brand Doing Yoga

Imagine a room full of sweaty, barely clothed women in pretzel-like positions.

I’m sure you were thinking of a hot yoga studio.

The practice of hot yoga has gained popularity, but should not be regarded as a fad practiced by vegan-Birkenstock-loving-yogis, or the Real Housewives of anywhere.

More often than not, the picturesque image of a yoga class includes calm stretching.

Now rev up the temperature between 95-105 F (35 to 40.5 C) and 40% humidity and imagine what happens.

Yes, you sweat. You thought you were sweating hard lifting weights, running or eating hot wings? Hot yoga doesn’t compare.

Hot yoga has numerous health benefits and is a terrific medium for men to strengthen themselves both physically and psychologically.

In fact, many professional athletes (including David Beckam and Braylon Edwards) include hot yoga as a standard part of their fitness regime.

Benefits of Hot Yoga

Since most hot yoga “studies” are anecdotal, there is debate concerning the validity of its benefits.

My research on the subject led me to a great study by Zoe Hewett in 2010. It showed that an 8-week Bikram program (24 sessions) had a positive effect on both the physical and psychological health of its subjects (fifty-one males and females between the ages of 20-54 years). Another study by Mukherjee et al. (2010) shows Bikram as a countermeasure of bone loss.

A major reported benefit is weight loss. The heat allows you to warm-up muscles quicker, allowing the body to burn fat more readily. In fact, its possible to drop up to 3-5 pounds of water weight (water, salts and oil) in a single class.

Another highly discussed benefit is detoxification. Sweating heavily is said to help flush toxins out of the skin, contributing to clear skin. Your circulatory system is also improved, resulting in an increased metabolism.

Hot yoga also helps against depression, stress, insomnia, back/knee pain, headaches, arthritis, poor posture, scoliosis, poor digestion and constipation.

For more detailed explanations, see http://www.mokshayoga.ca/about/benefits/

Styles of Hot Yoga

To clarify, there are two main styles of hot yoga that are branded: Moksha and Bikram.

Moksha was founded in 2004 by Torontonians Ted Grand and Jessica Robertson. A class consists of 40 poses, includes variations (depending on the class type), and lasts between 60 and 90 minutes. There are also several rounds of downward dog ‘vinyasa’ flows, which Bikram does not include.

Moksha emphasizes its own philosophies and community ideas (don’t worry, you don’t have to wear a robe or pay an ‘initiation’ fee for true enlightenment). Their philosophies are portrayed through environmentally friendly studios, karma classes (pay what you can), community initiatives, etc.

Bikram was developed from Hatha Yoga by Bikram Choudhury. Each class has the same script (containing 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises), and takes places over 90 minutes in 104-105 degree room.

Ultimately, if you decide to try yoga, consistency is key (check out LIVESTRONG’s detailed guide to prepare).

Lastly, if you’re single, go mingle before or after class. This is one of the few winter locations you can simultaneously show off your abs (or soon-to-be abs) and talk to women.

Written for CAVE by Kacha Simic

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