The Benefits of Hot Yoga
Three years ago, I stumbled upon Hot Yoga during my quest to attain quiet mind, body and soul. Leading up to this experience, I struggled with intimidation, anxiety and the realization that my body sometimes reacts to extreme heat. There was no way that I would be able to balance myself on my head as the advanced yogis do. How would I remain focused long enough to keep up with the ebb and flow? What if I pass out? No really, I have been subjected to way too many fainting (vagus nerve syncope) episodes in my lifetime.
My first yoga studio visit went much better than I expected. The yoga instructor knew everyone by name. She noticed there was a newbie in the group and met me on my mat. She came over to welcome me and immediately calmed my fears by informing me that the first session goal would be to remain in the room for the entire 90 minutes. She suggested I take breaks by sitting on my mat, if and when needed. Fifteen minutes into the Ninety-minute session, I realized this was way more difficult than I thought. It was hot, it was humid, it involved stretching, posing, balance and required me to remain focused. I did not meet my goal during the first visit. However, I immediately reaped from one of the benefits of hot yoga- I walked away feeling way more relaxed than when I first walked in.
Today, I practice hot Vinyasa Flow Yoga. Vinyasa Flow Yoga is literally three Movements-Plank, Cobra, Downward/Upward Dog used to connect to other poses. The objective is to create a flow which in turn generates body heat to allow your muscles to soften. The heated room combined with the body heat assists in removing toxins from the body while reducing systematic inflammation-Win Win! But wait, there’s more… I haven’t told you about the breathing and meditation benefit, which is honestly the only reason I returned after my first hot yoga experience. You might also want to note that finding the right yoga instructor is just as crucial as finding the right Doctor. You need someone that understands your limitations, will allow you to “do it your way” and that can breathe energy back into your soul.
My vigorous instructor begins every session by allowing us to start in whatever position we feel most comfortable. For me, it is usually bridge pose assisted by a block under my sacroiliac joint. She shares an inspiring message followed by a motivational quote and slowly leads us into the workout, the next 30-45 minutes are intense and the final 15-30 minutes we are brought back to a relaxing meditative state which ends with a cool aromatherapy towel being placed on our eyes as she shares a final inspiring message.
Maybe someday I’ll be able to quiet my mind long enough to finally perfect a yoga balancing pose? Until then, my tree pose will continue to look more like the leaning tower of Pisa while I reap all the wonderful benefits that practicing hot yoga brings to my life.