Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hot Yoga and cold toes in the Winter.

Winter is my favorite time to engage in a hot yoga practice. My experience with teaching yoga is closing in on it's 11th year, yet, I only discovered hot yoga about 4 years ago. To be honest, prior to taking my first class, I thought it to be a bit of a mystery. I was not unlike many students who now approach me asking me questions around the validity of the hot room as a setting that will foster a healthy body and lifestyle. let me first state, I am no doctor. I can only base my answer to this question on research and personal experience (leaning strongly towards the latter as it is the most sincere response!). I did not love hot yoga when I first came to it. I am pink by nature. I do not sweat, though I get uncomfortably hot in the summer at times, and I am anemic, and prone to fainting if my iron is low. My first couple hot classes were beyond uncomfortable, bordering on sheer panic. I left the first one (which was Bikram Yoga - I do not suggest this practice for a first-timer hot Yogi or Yogini;  it's 90 mins and it's HOT - most Bikram studio's are sitting at about 40 degrees on a good day!). I did go back, and over the course of a week or two, I adjusted. It doesn't take long to adjust tot he heat, despite the initial over-whelming experience. As for hot yoga's ability to increase over-all health and wellness, I can say that since I started doing hot yoga, I do not get sick as often as I used to. I also used to suffer from regular sinus problems, and have not had even one sinus infection since I began a regular hot yoga practice. I do not practice a rigorous yoga practice in the heat. I participate in gentle, flowing classes only due to my own hyper-mobility. The claims attached to the benefits of hot yoga are; improved flexibility, improved immunity, detoxification, stress reduction. "As a scientist, I wouldn't say there's a huge stock in sweating out your toxins," says Stephen Cheung, the Canada Research Chair in Environmental Ergonomics, whose area of expertise is heat stress. The body only releases them through sweat to a very limited extent, he says. The extreme temperature and humidity in Bikram yoga and its less regimented spinoff Moksha yoga can be risky for those with heart conditions, as well as for those with low or high blood pressure in the normal range, says Nieca Goldberg, medical director of New York University's Women's Heart Program. (excerpt from http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/fitness/thinking-of-trying-hot-yoga-read-this-first/article583705/). If a participant is practicing with already established hyper-mobility, there is an incresed risk of tearing muscle and ligament. Individuals should always speak to their doctor prior to beginning any new exercise routines, particularly an extreme practice like hot yoga. That said, I have come to love it and have found it to assist in my over-all sense of well-being! Also, its great for cold toes in the winter ;)

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