Thursday 5 September 2019

Daily photo - 5: Benefits of Hot Yoga

Breeze Yoga is now a regular feature in my weekly routine. Last year I got into doing yoga at the Crystal Palace Sports Centre and Streatham Ice and Leisure Centre.

This year (on my birthday, in February) I went to the next level by doing hot yoga in a studio, and have been enjoying it since. It has really made a difference for my mind and body.

The first time I went to the class, which was Hot Flow yoga I was struck by how hot the room was. I had previously been doing Hot Yoga at Streatham Ice and Leisure Centre, but it was only when I went to Breeze that I knew what "hot" meant.

The room was 40 degreesC. Within a few minutes sweat was pouring down my body.

The receptionist had asked me if I had a sweat towel, to which I replied yes, and showed her my mini towel that I had been used to using at the Streatham sessions. However, for this class the small red towel was useless. It might as well have been a small handkerchief! So in no time I had a pool of sweat on the floor around me. This was hardcore. I felt a bit self-conscious, but in fact everyone was pouring with sweat too - the men, that bit more! So I didn't feel so bad.

The skill level of the other participants in the class was quite high, with some people being able to do the splits and go into headstands, while I struggled to do basic hip opener exercises. The class lasted 90 minutes, which was 30 minutes longer than I was used to, and a few times I needed to just lie down in child's pose to take a breather.

I wasn't bothered though, and I don't think other people were either. They were just encouraging and welcoming. So I have been going to the various other classes they have - Hot Thai Yoga, Yin Yoga, Restorative Yoga, and a bit of Pilates.

The main reason why I stepped up the yoga was because I wanted to stay injury free in my preparation for the Paris Marathon. Furthermore, now that I have turned 50 I can feel my body getting stiffer and older especially with being hunched over handlebars while cycling, or sitting at a desk. So, it is just a way to slow down the decline.

Benefits of Hot Yoga according to Women's Health magazine are:

  • It makes you more flexible
  • It's a good cardio work-out
  • Reduces stress
  • Increases lung capacity
  • Burns calories and promotes weight loss

Many articles have been written about the benefits of hot yoga. Interestingly, when I consulted the scientific evidence for this it was stated that although there was a trend towards these benefits, more studies are needed to show that Hot Yoga really does confer these benefits.

Well, if it is just a placebo effect I don't mind because whatever it is I do feel better after a session in a Hot Yoga studio. I have hardly had any post-run soreness in my legs compared with previous years; my IT band is not so tight after cycling; I think I might be becoming a little flexible. So, I think that's reason enough to continue with Hot Yoga. Namaste!

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