Ok! It seems like everyone is heading to hot yoga classes these days. So, what's the intrigue? What makes this style of yoga better than other styles of yoga? (Or is it better?)
In a typical hot yoga class, the temperature of the studio can range anywhere from 80 degrees to 106 degrees! (Whew! That IS hot!) You are definitely going to sweat in these classes. Is it good to sweat so much? Being exposed to the heat while moving through the yoga poses can stimulate circulation and due to the perspiration, your body may eliminate some toxins through the skin.
In Bikram Yoga, a specific style and brand of hot yoga, consists of the same 26 yoga poses regardless of the studio you attend. Movement from pose to pose is slower and you hold the postures for a longer period of time. And because of the heated and humid conditions, it teaches a type of discipline and endurance that you may not experience in other activities. Don't worry, you can place a towel on your yoga mat to catch the sweat dripping off your body. And you also don't have to worry too much about slipping and sliding around. In Bikram Yoga, you never bring your hands to the floor (like you might in Downward Facing Dog Pose). Most of the postures are standing and balancing positions to encourage strength and flexibility.
Studies have shown, though, that attending a hot yoga class is no better for you than attending other yoga classes that are not hot. You can gain strength, flexibility, mobility, agility, and a greater sense of self in non-hot yoga classes, too. And even though you're not sweating your pores out in a 100 degree studio, the practitioner still generates an internal heat through movement and mindful breathing that leads to a stimulated central nervous system, endurance building, and mindfulness. The goals can ultimately be the same: feel more limber, focused, and relaxed.
So, what's attracting people to hot yoga classes? Those that have a higher tolerance for heat or like to have a physical challenge may be more drawn to these styles of yoga classes. Further, these folks may also have a higher heart-rate response when exposed to a heated practice. But that doesn't mean the body is working any harder in a hot yoga class for them. For some yogis, it's simply a personal preference of which type to choose. If you're thinking about going to a yoga class, but heat really isn't your thing, you can gain the same benefits from non-hot yoga classes, too. Yoga can help with lengthening your muscles, preventing injuries, improving your range of motion, improving your meditative skills, and whole lot more. Regardless of style, when you step out of your yoga class, you'll probably feel like your buddy that went to the Bikram class: you'll feel amazing!