All Bikram yoga is hot yoga, but not all hot yoga is Bikram yoga. In order for hot yoga to be called Bikram yoga it must follow the teachings of Bikram Choudhury. Bikram yoga must be practiced in a room kept at 40% humidity and 105 degrees F. The same 26 postures must be followed within a 90 minute class and no participants are to speak. The rules of hot yoga are much more relaxed. Temperatures can vary from 80 degrees F to 110 degrees F, classes are between 60 and 90 minutes long and the poses are less regimented. The benefits of hot yoga and the benefits of Bikram yoga are similar though.
Increase Your Flexibility
One of the biggest draws of traditional yoga is its ability to help increase your natural flexibility by using both static and dynamic positions and moves to stretch out your muscles. Hot yoga enhances the stretching of your muscles even further by allowing the muscles to warm up and relax before the stretching even begins. Your flexibility will increase while you are in a hot yoga room, but may not last outside of the room for the first few sessions. This is because of your relaxed muscles in the heat. It is important to only stretch to your comfort level while enjoying the benefits of hot yoga. Overstretching can cause pain and injuries no matter where you are. Practicing hot yoga has been shown to increase the overall lasting flexibility of hamstrings, lower backs and shoulders higher in those who perform this exercise regularly verse those who participate in traditional yoga on a regular basis.
Burn Those Calories
Hot yoga is exercise and therefore burns calories, and while you may sweat more during hot yoga you can expect to burn the same amount of calories during hot yoga as you would during traditional yoga. As the intensity of your yoga workout increases so will your calorie count so if you really want to burn some extra calories during your hot yoga workout you should kick it up a notch and pick up the pace. Turning up the heat in the room isn’t going to be enough to make your body burn more calories, but performing an hour or more of any type of yoga will burn a significant amount of calories even at a low intensity.
Sweat Out Toxins
Traditional yoga may make you sweat out some toxins as you stretch and hold difficult poses but hot yoga or Bikram yoga will have you sweating out toxins the minute you step through the door. The temperature alone will tempt toxins out of your body and once you start moving they will flow freely from you. It has been shown that people who participate in hot yoga can lose up to one percent of their body mass through sweat alone during a session so it is especially important to load up on the water post workout to rehydrate your body properly. Since hot yoga classes are more likely to cause dehydration than traditional yoga classes it is also a good idea to bring and sip water throughout the class if you have the chance. Be aware of the rules of your yoga studio though, as some hot yoga classes do not allow the consumption of water during class.
Boost Your Mood
As you may know all exercise has the potential to boost your mood and elevate your spirits both during and immediately after your workout session. But due to the mind, body and soul connection associated with yoga this workout tends to have an increased success rate of boosting your mood not only for a few hours but for an extended period of time. Traditional, hot and Bikram yoga have all been shown to be successful in decreasing the body’s natural production of cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone that when naturally decreased can actually cause a lasting increased sense of well-being, health and happiness over time.
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