In almost every yoga studio across the modern world, hot yoga, also called Bikram yoga, has become the most popular type of class that people are eager to sign up for. Marketing for hot yoga includes claims that you will increase flexibility more easily and release more toxins through your sweat. What marketing will not tell you is that there is increasing concern about the dangers associated with hot yoga.
Hot Yoga Explained
Most people understand that yoga is an ancient Eastern exercise method that combines poses, positions, and movements with breathing techniques and, sometimes, a spiritual or mindful dimension. It is practiced by people of all ages and all physical capabilities to improve body tone, posture, balance, and also to reduce stress.
Hot yoga is essentially the same thing except everything is done in a closed room that is heated up to a temperature of 95 to 105 degrees and has the humidity of just 40 percent. The most usual class consists of 26 different movements and poses done over a period of approximately an hour and a half.
The goals? Proponents of Bikram yoga say that the heat relaxes joints and ligaments to improve flexibility, increases heart rate for a better cardiovascular fitness level, and forces the participants to sweat more to release trapped toxins in the body.
The Dangers of Hot Yoga
All of the suppose it benefits listed above are actually quite dangerous.
Overstretching can lead to ligament problems and even injury. The high heat of the room may make you feel looser, but that does not mean your ligaments will actually stretch more, they are not made of rubber or taffy that softens in the heat.
Increasing your heart rate more than a regular yoga workout would, can obviously cause problems for people who are not used to those levels of fitness. Because the poses and motions are difficult but not aerobic, people may not even realize how hard their heart is pounding until they begin to feel bad. Most proponents of exercise suggest a controlled elevated heart rate that stays steady instead of rising continuously.
Although the idea that sweat contains toxins is frequently bandied about, it really is primarily water, potassium, urea, and ammonia. The first two things on the list are vital for human life and should not be encouraged to leave. The second two are primarily dealt with through urination.
Besides the goals of hot yoga being questionable, the atmosphere and attitude surrounding it may push people beyond their comfort levels and almost shame them into not taking care of their health properly if they begin to feel ill or unsteady. People who attend the classes are frequently encouraged to push harder and stretch beyond their comfort zones and not to leave the room if they are not feeling well. With heatstroke being a very real danger of hot yoga, leaving the room should be the first line of defense in case of a headache, dizziness, or general malaise.
As with all exercises, people interested in hot or Bikram yoga should consult with their physician before beginning. Because there are associated dangers, it is very important to listen to yourself and your own body when you're in the class and not an overenthusiastic trainer or fellow classmates.