By Leslee Jaquette
My much-respected yoga instructor Sunit did not approve of hot yoga. A “Thoroughly Modern Milly” of Indian descent, this smart young yogi felt the claims by groups headed by Bikram and others simply were not valid.
I have taken a number of series of various hot yoga classes including Bikram several times. I like it but have no illusions about it providing extra calorie burn or increasing my flexibility in any permanent way. On the plus side, what attracts me to hot yoga is that it is a WARM place to workout during a dreary Northwest winter.
To take emotion out of the discussion let’s look at some of the information in an article in mindbodygreen.com by author Michael Taylor. He explains several fables related to hot yoga and, then, suggests a solution to each. Here is a summary.
Hot Yoga Fables and Solutions:
Fable 1: Your metabolism is boosted by a hot room. To the extent that our metabolism is tied to temperature at all, it’s body temp not room temp. Regardless of room temp, your body temp remains constant.
What does boost metabolism is working our muscles.
Solution 1: If you want to lose weight, get moving! If you like it hot, great. If that slows you down and leads you to work less with your body, lose the hot room and just move.
Fable 2: Circulation and flexibility are improved by a hot room. Once again it’s not the hot room; it’s what you do with your body to create your own heat and kick-start your own systems.
Solution 2: Move it! Create your own heat by moving, and see how that works for your muscles. It’s also important to address stress in your life, and in your workouts.
Fable 3: Toxins are eliminated by a hot room. Sweat may work out a little dirt in the pores, but our main detox system is the liver and kidneys, along with lungs and colon.
Solution 3: Drink plenty of water, breathe deep, eat good foods. Do what you can to keep your intake a good healthy constant. You’ll feel great!
Fable 4: Immunity and T-cell production are improved by a hot room. Our temperature is constant to maintain optimal normal operating conditions. It goes up as needed to combat infections.
Solution 4: Exercise, and do things that make you happy. We do know that exercise improves both our mood and our immune response. Happiness in general is good for immunity. So keep it moving, and do what you enjoy
Taylor’s conclusions about hot yoga
At the end of this exploration, it looks like these hot yoga claims are partly marketing, and partly mistaking correlation with causation. There is a strong correlation between ice cream and drownings. But this isn’t because ice cream causes drownings. It’s because as the weather gets hot, people swim more (more drownings), and eat more ice cream. In the case of yoga, it isn’t the hot room that causes these great things to happen, it’s you!
Do what you like, use your body, and take good care of yourself. Best to leave the fables behind, because the reality of yoga – and of your body’s capacity to do amazing things – are both great all on their own.
For more information, please read the entire blog at http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-6013/Hot-or-Not-Untangling-Fact-From-Fiction-in-Hot-Yoga.html
By Leslee Jaquette