As I reach down into forward fold pose, beads of sweat drip down onto my pink yoga mat. When I first entered the warm studio, I thought hot yoga wouldn’t be too hard. I soon changed my mind after I almost slipped off my mat doing warrior pose “a”.
After the class concluded, I rolled up my yoga mat and exited the studio feeling like I had just jumped into a pool. Moments later, a wave of relaxation came over me that made me completely forget my leggings were soaked with sweat. Hot yoga is challenging, but it is one of the most relaxing and detoxifying things you can do.
Hot yoga is probably not a term many students have come across before because it is a relatively new form of yoga. It began in Japan in the 1970s when celebrity yoga teacher Bikram Choudhury started experimenting with heaters in his yoga room.
He started by heating his yoga room to 82 degrees Fahrenheit, the average temperature of Calcutta, India, his hometown. Choudhury noticed that the high temperature caused his yogis to sweat and exert themselves more, allowing the yogis to have a better, more intense workout. He kept increasing the heat until it reached 104 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the usual temperature hot yoga is practiced at today.
Hot yoga continues to be practiced at these high temperatures, but the high heat is combined with 40 to 60 percent humidity to create a healing atmosphere as well as an intense workout. The high humidity helps yogis sweat out toxins and detoxify themselves, making hot yoga a great way to get over a cold, de-stress after a big week, or detoxifying yourself after a hectic weekend of eating junk food.
A bonus stemming from the detoxifying heat and humidity is hot yoga’s anti-aging benefit. In a Q&A with Goop, director and co-founder of Brooklyn Yoga Club Eddie Stern, discussed yoga’s effect on telomeres, the part of DNA that is related to aging. A telomere is “like the plastic cap on the end of a shoelace that prevents the shoelace from fraying,” said Stern.
Telomeres protect our chromosomes, and as telomeres shorten, our longevity decreases. They naturally begin to shorten over time, but factors like stress, smoking and a poor diet can expedite the shortening of telomeres. By implementing small lifestyle changes such as yoga, however, the shortening of telomeres will slow, protecting chromosomes and leading to a longer and healthier life.
The anti-aging benefits of hot yoga might not be a huge draw for students, but the health and destressing benefits of hot yoga should be a reason to give it a try.
I tried out a forty-five-minute hot yoga session at WeYogis on February 18th, and since then, I have done one to two sessions a week since my first class. After each session, I feel calm and my body feels refreshed, although I could do without the soaking wet clothes from all the sweat. I also sleep well after my classes, and I find that I wake up feeling energized.
If you want to try out hot yoga, multiple yoga studios in Dallas offer hot yoga classes, such as Sunstone FIT, Pure Yoga, Gaia Flow Yoga Uptown and my favorite, WeYogis. Classes can range from forty-five-minutes to ninety minutes. Prior to attending a hot yoga session, make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day (not just an hour before your class) and try not to eat at least an hour before your class to avoid feeling sick. It is helpful to bring a small towel with you. After you are prepped and ready to go, enjoy your hot yoga class and get ready to feel destressed and detoxified.