Hot yoga, traditionally known as Bikram yoga, is a series of postures and poses performed in a heated room; it doesn’t just have physical benefits, but emotional and spiritual ones as well.
“Everyone should at least try hot yoga,” said Tammy Beck, owner of Hot Yoga Winnipeg. “It has helped so many people in so many ways.”
Hot yoga was created by yogiraj Bikram Choudhury. Bikram was an Olympic weightlifter who suffered a knee injury when he was 17-years-old. Doctors told him that he would never walk again. Bikram, who had practiced yoga since he was four, went back to his yoga school and began doing yoga again. Just months later, Bikram’s knee was healed and he was asked to open yoga schools in India. His practices soon began to spread, and hot yoga is now practiced all over the world.
Hot yoga classes usually last between 60 to 90 minutes, and typically incorporate 26 poses. The main difference between hot yoga and other traditional yoga classes is hot yoga is done in a hot room.
“[The room] is like standing in your bathroom after a hot shower,” Beck said.
Participants will sweat a lot, and are asked to arrive for class well hydrated and wearing tight fitting clothes. Many of hot yoga’s benefits (such as increased flexibility and mental focus) come from being in the heated room and from sweating.
“Toning the body is just the bonus. It has helped people cope with stress, go off pain medications, antidepressants. It helps people to learn to be more confident and self-assured. Not to mention self-awareness of what is going on with your body and your mind,” Beck said.
Ann Park Peters, owner/instructor of Stafford Street Hot Yoga, encourages beginners to try out classes and reassures students that they can go at their own pace and that most classes are geared towards first timers.
“The intensity will depend on the effort that the individual puts in, but the heat and the humidity do facilitate a more intense workout than a non-heated yoga class.”
“The workouts can be pretty intense until you become familiar with the positions, but if you like a challenge within a few sessions you can become fairly proficient with the moves,” said Amy Brown, a student at the University of Manitoba who frequently does hot yoga.
Brown recommends hot yoga to anyone looking to increase strength and flexibility, and says it even helps with her schooling.
“It’s great when I’m studying, because it helps me clear my mind for an hour or so. When I head back to my books, I’m ready for a fresh start.”
It’s important that people don’t neglect their health in the summer months.
Though class sizes may be smaller in the summer, most studios usually keep to a regular schedule.
Summer is a great time for new challenges, so why not add hot yoga to your list?
Published in Volume 63, Number 29 of The Uniter (July 16, 2009)