Hot Yoga Class is conducted in a heated environment of around 39 °C and 30-40% humidity and lasts 90 minutes. The heat acts as a catalyst to enhance the process of relaxing the muscles, ligaments, joints, tendons and bones. This prevents injury. A heated body is a more flexible body. Each posture is done in 2 subsequent sets. In the first set, the practitioner explores his own body, both mentally and physically. In the second set, one then can go deeper and explore the limits of the posture. It is important to practice the 26 postures + 2 breathing exercises in the given sequence, not to omit postures. Each posture is designed to warm up your body systematically and prepare you for the next one. Hot Yoga is practiced in front of a mirror, which helps attaining a correct alignment and realizing ones own progress.
General Health Benefits of Hot Yoga
Strength and flexibility are the essence of a healthy body. To keep balance between those two is equally important. At birth, no human has this balance perfected. In Hatha Yoga we use what we are born with to develop the other. E.g. strong people can work on their flexibility and vice versa. Over time, the two will balance each other out. Then you do not have to try to balance anymore, the body will balance itself. And when the body is perfectly balanced, we can start working on balancing it with the mind.
Yoga is like a personal self-diagnostic tool. When you practice, you scan your body. Over time you will develop a strong internal sensitivity and awareness to your own body and you will notice which parts are not functioning properly. You can then with awareness work on these parts and do necessary repairs. Yoga brings about a sensation of overall wellbeing. The combination of physical and mental circulation and communication builds a strong body that resists sickness and improves the immune system.
Performing the postures works on the total body using contraction and stretching of the muscles. The soft tissue is compressed and released throughout all the postures. Tissue blood circulation is then improved. Toxins are flushed out of the system through this process. Areas of the body once in deterioration receive more nourishment and improve their function. The total metabolism in the body is sped up resulting in energy boosts. This in turn decreases the workload on the organs. They will perform at optimum level. Inducing sweat for detoxification is an ancient practice also in other traditions like Ayurveda where sweat is one of the five therapies. Toxins are flushed from the inside out with the sweat through the skin in Hot Yoga.
Through practicing breath-control and concentration synchronized with the postures the mind is slowed down and relaxation induced. This relaxed state lets thoughts and energy flow more free with less constraint. The transformation leads to increased awareness about yourself and things are seen from a new perspective. The following are specific, major health improvements you will experience when practicing Hot Yoga on a regular basis:
Breath and the Lungs
This is the first, immediate improvement that needs to be done. This is why the Hot Yoga practice starts with a breathing exercise, called Standing Deep Breathing. The exercise will improve your lung capacity. Most humans rarely use 50% of their lung capacity. When you start the practice the lungs will feel very tight and compressed. With each practice you will notice that your breath gains depth and slowly your lungs will expand. By systematically inflating the lungs they gain flexibility. They will hold and process more oxygen. The efficiency of the lungs will increase. More efficiency means more air you breath in is purified. As a consequence more fresh oxygen is supplied to the body.
Yogis know and treasure the power of breath. Breathe awareness and control has been part of not only the yogic tradition but also of other Eastern disciplines like Tai Chi and Qi Gong. Breath is life. Proper breath extends life. Lack of supply of oxygen leads to disease and faster aging.
Heart and Lungs
A healthy, well functioning body needs the heart and lungs to cooperate efficiently. Through the postures, oxygen conversion is enhanced. The heart gets more supply of oxygen and absorbs it, resulting in improved blood circulation. Through learning and applying breath-control through the breathing exercises we master our breath, which makes us calmer and more relaxed in daily life.
The extension and compression of body parts and internal organs in the postures lead to temporary increases in blood volume and pressure. Blood rushes and floods the circulatory system and organs with fresh, highly oxygenized blood. Toxins are flushed out of the system systematically.
Recent studies conducted at the Salk Institute of Biological Studies and Princeton University confirm that physical and mental exercise extend the life of existing brain cells and also promote growth of new neurons in the hippocampus. This part of the brain is important to maintain memory. Hot Yoga needs tremendous concentration, willpower and focus. It gives the brain an all-round workout, the brain stays sharp and focused for longer. The yoga tradition defines eleven receiving centers behind each ear. These centers absorb sound and all kinds of other information and transmit these to the brain. Receiving negative information the brain transmits the bad information to all kinds of body parts as biochemical messages. The bio chemicals produce acids that attack the nerves. Through practicing Hot Yoga postures that is always in synchronization with high levels of concentration, this negative brain chemistry is reduced and balanced out. In western medical terms this is called decreasing the activity of the sympathetic nervous system.
A strong, healthy spine is the most important condition of a healthy body. A ruined spine causes great pains and life is not enjoyable anymore. Nerves run through the spine in the form of the central nervous system through a passageway in its center, protected by spinal fluid as protection. Hot Yoga stretches and twists the spine. We create space between the vertebrae, taking of the pressure between them. The postures strengthen the back muscles around the spine. This leads to increased strength of the spine and a strong protection of the nerves that run through it.