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Benefits of Hot Yoga by Priyanka ,  Feb 14, 2013
Yoga in any form is an effective low-impact exercise that can have positive effects on your blood pressure, stress level and mood. Bikram yoga, also called hot yoga, is a series of yoga poses performed in a room heated to 100 degrees or more. It's not for everyone, but for those who give it a shot, hot yoga can have physical and mental benefits.

Bikram yoga is also called hot yoga because the yoga workouts are done in a heated room. However, Bikram isn't just any yoga practice. "Bikram Yoga is a 90-minute series of 26 beginning yoga postures (asanas) and 2 breathing exercises (pranayamas) that are done in the same order," Birrell explains. "Most poses are done twice — the first set acts as a diagnostic, and the second set is where you push a little more and create change in the body and the mind."

The beauty of the Bikram practice is that it works the whole body, with each pose warming you up and preparing you for the next posture and the postures to come. It not only promotes health and strength, it is also very healing, according to Birrell. "A state-of-the-art ventilation system brings fresh pre-heated air into the room throughout class to ensure that there is plenty of fresh oxygen to breathe," she says. "The heat provides many benefits, including increased blood flow throughout the body, and helps detoxify the body through the sweat."

It’s no secret that Hot Yoga is popular.

Celebrities, royalty and athletes are flocking to studios worldwide to lock the knee and stare into their own eyes. Anyone can do it! Here’s what you’ll get when you sign up for a 90-minute beginner class in the infamous hot room:

1. Flexibility: No, you won’t be forced into contortionist positions. The heat will allow you to safely reach new levels of personal flexibility in beginner’s postures, which is therapeutic for your body (see number seven). Plus, let’s be honest, being flexible is cool. You’ll be busting out Standing Bow Pose at your next party.

2. Strength: Your own body is your gym. This yoga is low impact and uses muscles you didn’t know you had—trying standing in a wide lunge for Triangle pose on carpet and not sliding! Also, a prime focus is on spine strength, which is key to a long healthy life!

3. Breath:The definition of Hatha Yoga asana is: stillness in a posture while breathing normally. With the added element of the heat, you won’t make it far if you don’t breathe deeply! If there is no breathing, there is no yoga. It won’t take long before you learn to breathe in a full and controlled manner.

4. Cardio: Your heart can work the same way doing yoga postures in a heated room as it does when running a mile, and you never even leave your mat. Particularly in postures when you are balancing and contracting your muscles at the same time. A 90-minute class can burn up to 1,000 calories. The way you stretch and compress your internal organs and glands also stimulates metabolism so you are burning calories quicker outside the room as well.

5. Detox: The heated room helps you to stretch more and get your cardio, but it also helps you sweat. The postures themselves are detoxifying for your muscles, organs, and glands and sweating furthers that.

6. Focus: Most Hot Yoga classes consist of the same 26 postures and two breathing exercises—and if not, there is almost always a dialed routine. The routine helps you to advance your practice through repetition. As you advance, you gain tremendous focus and determination. The ability to focus carries over to your daily life. When you can focus on the task at hand, you’ll excel and you can enjoy it more.

7. Healing: The primary purpose of this yoga is therapy. With a regular practice, these postures can help to heal old injuries and also prevent them in the future. This is especially true for, but not limited to, back pain. Don’t skip the postures that are slightly uncomfortable. Hot Yoga is also known to reduce symptoms of conditions and illnesses including diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure, depression, arthritis and obesity.

8. Life:“You’re only as old as your spine is flexible.” ~Joseph Pilates

Additional health benefits of hot yoga:

  • promotes weight loss
  • appetite control
  • improves posture
  • improves coordination
  • decreases headaches
  • aids in proper digestion through the breakdown of glucose and fatty acids
  • reduces heart irregularities associated with sudden exercise
  • helps with anxiety
  • increases energy
  • fosters spiritual growth
  • improves balance
  • improves your patience and compassion
  • increases range of movement in the joints, ligaments, and other structures of the body
Increased Vitality: If you want to gain more spring in your step and recover the “vim and vigor” of youth, the Bikram series practiced in a heated room is a great form of yoga. It has the potential to reverse the elements of aging, giving you the ability to take much deeper breaths to navigate your way through a hectic modern world or simply run up a flight of stairs! Keep up with a consistent practice and you’re guaranteed to look and feel younger.

Reduced Stress: Perhaps one of the most significant Bikram yoga benefits is the increased connectivity with the body, gained from regular practice. The intense focus in the sequence causes the chatter of the mind to decrease, leaving one less mentally preoccupied, both in and out of the class. Also, with consistent practice, the muscle memory of taking deeper breaths carries over into daily life, automatically providing instant relief to the temporary stressors that plague our modern world.
Skin and Beauty: Watch your face and skin develop “the Bikram glow” as your eyes become brighter and your skin becomes more clear and soft. As you sweat, your pores are opened and cleaned allowing natural lanolin to release through the pores, softening and preserving your skin’s elasticity. “I feel so CLEAN inside and out, and my skin is so SOFT I don’t need moisturizer anymore!” is a student’s comment. Faces in general change expression from looking disturbed and frustrated to looking full of life and happiness. As your body detoxifies, you may eventually never need deodorant again!

Balancing Emotions: Bikram Yoga helps balance the emotions in several ways. Physiologically a regular practice harmonizes the nervous and endocrine systems – two systems which play a large part in emotional well-being. Practicing Bikram Yoga cultivates the mental faculties of faith, self-control, concentration, determination, and patience. As we become more aware of our inner life, we notice how events, interactions, and even the atmospheric pressure can affect us. As we become more aware, we exercise better choices in our responses. This helps us balance our emotional life.

Cholesterol: Many of our male students here in Memphis have come off their cholesterol medication from a regular Bikram Yoga practice. Your circulation increases allowing blood to flow throughout your body cleansing and clearing your arteries.

Anti-Aging / Preventative Medicine: Bikram Yoga acts as anti-aging and preventative medicine keeping the body young and healthy. “Yoga maintains youth long. It keeps the body full of vitality, immune to diseases, even at old, old age. The Yogi never becomes old”. -Bishnu Ghosh
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