Copyright 2014 Dayton Newspapers, Inc.
Dayton Daily News (Ohio)
It's cold outside, but inside some yoga studios, it's hot ... very hot.
As the hot yoga craze continues to sizzle and devotees willingly sweat buckets while twisting, bending and stretching their bodies through various poses, we wanted to take a closer look at just what this hot fitness trend is, what the benefits are, and why it's become a favorite form of exercise for so many.
We asked Devon Schmidt, owner of and instructor at Day Yoga Studio in Dayton (located in the University of Dayton area); Stacey Harris, a certified personal/fitness trainer with Lifetime Fitness in Mason; and Dr. Robert Kominiarek, a board certified family physician with expertise in health, fitness and nutrition. Kominiarek is the host of "Americas FitnessDoctor.TV," a series of online webisodes on weight loss, as well as the author of "The Bride's Quick Guide to Weight Loss," "16 Minutes a Day, An Energizing Weight Loss Plan" and "The N.E.W.R. You, A Doctor's Simple Solution to an Energetic, Healthier and Sexier You."
What is hot yoga ?
Generally speaking, hot yoga can refer to any yoga class done in a heated room, with a maintained temperature of anywhere between 95 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit and an approximate humidity level of 40 percent.
The classes, which can last from 60 to 90 minutes, consist of participants moving through 26 different poses with synchronized breathing.
"Generally speaking, anyone can do hot yoga," said Schmidt.
"We have all ages coming to class - mothers and daughters, men, preteens, even the elderly. Everyone goes at their own pace."
Victoria Court of Kettering is a client at Day Yoga Studio. She's been doing hot yoga for two years and loves it.
"The great thing about yoga, which the teachers at Day Yoga Studio are always there to remind their students, is that everyone is at a different pace in their own practice.
"So, in any hot yoga class, there will be advanced yogis contorting themselves in mind-bending ways, there will be intermediate yogis and there will be brand-new yogis attending their first yoga class," said Court. "I can't get enough. I literally do it every day."
What are the benefits?
Like standard yoga, hot yoga has physical and mental benefits.
Mentally speaking, it's been known to bring about greater calmness and clarity, reduce stress and increase body awareness.
Physically speaking, it can improve balance, as well as tone, strengthen and lengthen muscles.
However, the warm temperature and continuous movement involved with hot yoga results in a great deal of sweating, much more than in a typical yoga class. The belief is that participants of hot yoga can release various toxins from the body through the intense sweating.
"Hot yoga is much more detoxifying than traditional yoga because you're sweating so much," said Schmidt. "Plus, the warmth in hot yoga allows you to go deeper into the stretches, increasing flexibility and blood circulation."
Harris not only recommends it for clients, but is also a regular at hot yoga classes.
"I do hot yoga all the time - it's awesome" said Harris. "The heat really allows the muscles and tendons to get better blood flow and become a lot more elastic to get the deeper stretches."
Is hot yoga better?
"All yoga is good for improving strength, fitness, breathing, and relaxation. Incorporating one or two yoga classes per week is a great way to improve your overall fitness and great for couples to participate in together to strengthen their relationship," said Kominiarek.
However, the doctor said, "The benefit of hot yoga over regular yoga may well be just perception, as a recent study by The American Council on Exercise demonstrated no difference in 20 individuals' heart rates over a 60 minute hot vs. regular yoga class.
"For those individuals who prefer a warmer environment while they exercise, hot yoga just may be the ticket," he explained.
What to wear
Form-fitting capris or yoga pants are great, as are close-fitting tank tops and sports bras.
Shorts are fine but keep in mind that legs will become very sweaty and slippery, making some poses more difficult.
Avoid loose fitting clothes: They tend to be cumbersome and uncomfortable once the profuse sweating starts.
Bring your own yoga mat if possible - you'll be happy you did after sweating so much - a bottle of water, and a small towel.
Many studios have these items to rent.
Schmidt advises clients to drink plenty of water before, during and after class to maintain hydration and to avoid eating two to three hours before class. If you must eat, keep it light.
To avoid injuries due to over-stretching, Schmidt says she and her fellow instructors are diligent about constantly reminding clients to listen to their bodies.
"We really encourage our students to listen to their bodies - to be mindful, deliberate and take their time and not force anything," said Schmidt.
The American Council on Exercise study found that hot yoga done in a room with a maintained temperature between 90 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit posed no increased risk to the average exerciser.
Of note, the study did not look at how higher temperatures, like those typical of Bikram yoga that is practiced at 105 degrees or higher, adversely affect the body.
Additionally, Kominiarek advises those with serious chronic medical issues, fragile medical conditions, heart conditions and diabetes to proceed with caution and to advise their instructors of their medical condition so the instructors can keep on eye on them.
Said Kominiarek, "As with all people starting a new exercise routine or beginning exercise, seek medical clearance first, start slow and advance slowly."
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