by Ellen Latham, MS
A committed yoga practice will enhance your stability, improve your balance and flexibility, and leave you stronger, healthier, more energized and centered for your day. However, the benefits of hot yoga, also known as Bikram Yoga, take it to the next level. New practitioners are often surprised at how fast their core strength is built and the amazing vibrant health that is rapidly achieved through a regular hot yoga practice.
Internal organs and glands are gently massaged and the heated room ensures that participants sweat, helping them to flush toxins out of their system. In this intense cardiovascular workout, fresh, oxygenated blood is brought into every part of the body, cleansing and rejuvenating the entire system. The heat is a form of cardiovascular conditioning.
The result is a workout like no other. Hot yoga has been embraced by thousands of people, from sports enthusiasts to people suffering ailments, to those who just want to stay fit. Weight control, muscle tone, healthy looking skin and reduced stress are some of the many rewards from hot yoga.
Additional responses to the heat include stimulation of white blood cell production, boosting the immune system and an increase in healing injuries and disease symptoms. Research from the American Cancer Society’s website (Cancer.org) shows the benefits of increasing body heat (also known as hyperthermia), where the body temperature is raised to 100 degrees. The benefits related to hyperthermia indicate that very high temperatures can be used to destroy a small area of cells, such as a tumor. This is commonly referred to as local hyperthermia or thermal ablation. The temperature of a part of the body (or even whole body) can be raised to a higher than normal level. Although it isn’t hot enough to kill the cells directly, it can allow other types of cancer treatments such as radiation therapy, immunotherapy or chemotherapy to work better. This is known as either regional hyperthermia or whole body hyperthermia. It has been known for centuries that heat treatment has been beneficial. As stated in the article, Cancer.org/Treatment/TreatmentsandSideEffects/ComplementaryandAlternativeMedicine/ManualHealingandPhysicalTouch/heat-therapy, “The first documented use of heat treatment dates back to 400 BC with Hippocrates. In 500 BC, the Greek physician Parmenides believed that if he could create fever, he could cure all illness.”
Evidence shows hot yoga offers a number of health benefits, however, not all hot yoga studios are created equal. It is critical to do the research in picking the best hot yoga studio or the experience and benefits will not be fulfilled to maximum potential. Key points to consider when choosing the right hot yoga studio:
– Avoid studios with homemade heating systems; there should be a temperature control system in place.
– Heat should be consistent across the room; this eliminates being in the hottest spot of the studio.
– Ventilation is essential; the studio should have a balance of forced air (hot air) and access to new and different air.
It is important to have an equal balance of airflow, humidity and heat more so for a comfort index rather than just a heat index. You do not want to sweat- to- drip- to- cool; it is a very uncomfortable experience and often leads to symptoms of heat stroke. It is important to use forced air with all the right components integrated, such as humidification into the system. In other words, an energy recovery ventilator is critical in making sure the studio has the forced air (hot) and access to new and different air to offer complete balance. This will eliminate the chance of the hot, humid air being pushed into the wall cavities where it could possibly grow mold and bacteria, eventually making students sick.
Many yoga studios simply have air come from the roof or somewhere else pumping into the heater, which draws more air in versus removing it. The difference in a fresh air set up versus just pumping in more air from outside is felt by the student; however they may not know it. The experience can be like going to a class which felt super hot and hated it and then doing another class in a different studio, felt the same heat, maybe even hotter and loved it.
The room should be heated to at least 105 degrees with just the perfect amount of humidity to make you sweat, and enough fresh clean air to help you feel great. Top of the line heating systems will purify the room with ozone and ions through an extensive air purification system. You will never smell an odor in a room with this type of heating system. It is through this proper heat and humidity control that research indicates many ailments and diseases can be successfully treated by hot yoga, including arthritis, heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease and many, many more. But remember, if a person is not practicing yoga in the right environment with a top notch heating system, they will likely not go back after the first class, or may even continue but without fully attaining all the benefits, or worse, they make get sick.
• Once the right hot yoga studio is found, make sure to follow these simple steps before doing a class:
• Do not eat two to three hours before class
• Attend class well hydrated with extra water for replenishment
• Try to be fragrance-free
• Bring yoga mat, a large towel and plastic water bottle
• Small towel for wiping the face or for better gripping
• Listen to your own body and do not push
• Follow along with your instructor
The good news for South Florida residents is that available to them is a hot yoga studio fully equipped with climate, humidity and odor controls: Ellen’s Ultimate Workout, located at 5173 South University Drive, Davie. Ellen’s Ultimate Workout is South Florida’s most complete fitness studio, offering the best in cardio training with a focus on heart-rate training to shape your body to the best it can be. In addition to hot yoga and the signature Ultimate Workout, the studio offers spinning, Pilates with full reformers, Ultimate Ballet Barre, Zumba, along with new Ultimate Baby/Toddler sessions. More than 150 classes per week are led by a team of certified instructors in a state-of-the-art, 7,000-square-foot studio. Ellen’s is owned by Ellen Latham, MS, a highly trained physiologist who has motivated and trained clients for 35 years.
For more information on Latham, the studio and class schedule, visit EllensUltimateWorkout.com or call 954-472-9440 for a complimentary class. See ad page this page.