I’ve never done hot yoga, but it’s all the rage.
You get into a warm room of and sweat and stretch til you’re skinny (or at least that’s the theory). I’m not keen on the idea because I have an issue with heat and humidity, but after hearing that Gwyneth Paltrow, Madonna, and Lady Gaga all practice hot yoga, I’ll admit my interest was piqued. Fans of hot yoga say working out at hotter temperatures makes your body burn more calories.
Are these celebs onto something? To find out what’s up with hot yoga, I asked a few hot yoga practitioners why they do it.
Studio owner and founder of Prajjali, Elissa Lappostato, started hot yoga after practicing non-hot yoga for five years. “I was a competitive athlete who had suffered many injuries and was looking for a gentle workout alternative,” Elissa says. “I heard that hot yoga burned more calories than non-hot due to its detoxing effects and elevation of the heart rate. Hot yoga turned out to be the intense workout I was looking for; with it I could skip the gym or running, as I was burning 800-900 calories per session. I was hooked from day one.”
Elissa isn’t the only one who is addicted. Carly Fauth, CEO of MoneyCrashers, got involved with hot yoga approximately four years ago after a studio opened near where she lives. “And I must admit, I have become addicted to it,” Carly says. “I attend classes six times a week. I’ve improved both my strength and flexibility, and lost weight as well.”
The benefits go beyond weight loss and flexibility. For at least one yogi, it includes a sense of community.
Jodi Rogozinski, Bridal Coach and 200 HR RYT was recently certified in Baptiste Power Yoga after practicing for 5 years. Baptiste is a power vinyasa heated to 90F. “It was the high intensity and rigor that I was looking for in my yoga practice,” Jodi explains. “What was a bonus was each and every teacher created a space which empowered the mind, body, and spirit and a place of discovery and exploration without judgement and expectations. It can be said that how you show up on your mat is exactly how you show up off your mat.”
Jodi’s unique business Getting 2 I Do offers services to couples before and after the wedding including stress management, and power yoga. Jodi hopes she can help couples nurture their relationships with hot yoga both on and off the mat, and help them achieve a sense of balance and relaxation.
“I feel more relaxed after hot yoga as opposed to non-hot,” Elissa tells me. “All of my stress lies in a pool of sweat on the studio floor as I leave, able to face the world again with a clear head. The heat helps my mind to stay focused and the daily detox makes my body feel clean inside and out.”
But there are some negatives too.
“Studios have different heating methods,” Elissa explains. “I believe it is important for the temperature to be 95-102 degrees with 40% humidity. This is about our body temperature so the heart rate elevates but you can still develop a strong practice. Any heat above this will exhaust you and you are better off going to hang out in a sauna. Heat exhaustion can cause migraines and weaken the immune system. It is easier to push yourself too far in hot yoga because the muscles are so pliable and warmed up. Being careful and listening to your body is extremely important.”
Elissa and Carly agree, there’s a right way and a wrong way to participate in hot yoga.
“To begin with, ” Carly says, “you have to drink plenty of water before a hot yoga class, and even more afterwards. I’ve also found that wearing tight-fitting clothing works better than loose. And you shouldn’t eat a lot before a class, only a light snack like fruit. It’s also important that you breathe through your nose rather than your mouth, and you should plan on about three to five minutes of rest right after the class ends.”
“Dehydration is a serious risk in hot yoga,” says Elissa. “It is important that you hydrate not only daily, but especially 24 hours before you practice. Alcohol should be limited the day prior to practicing. “
Are you considering getting started with hot yoga? Elissa has some tips for you: “One can get the most out of their hot yoga practice by practicing at least 5 times a week. A good hot yoga mat (I prefer the Jade mat and towel) is very important so you do not slip and get injured. Eating nutrient dense foods, drinking coconut water and remaining mindful to stay hydrated throughout the day are all important, as well. Showering with a pure natural soap is also very beneficial to cleanse the skin of toxins that have been released through the pores during class. “
Do you practice hot yoga? What tips do you have for a beginner? Let me know in the comments.