People call us up just about every week asking if we offer Hot Yoga classes. It’s always tricky to answer this question. Hot vs. Not Hot is a controversial topic in yoga circles. When people talk about Hot Yoga, they are typically referring to Bikram Yoga, which is an intense 90 minute yoga class taught in a room heated to 105°F. I practiced Bikram for a while when I was in my 20’s, so I have a good understanding of what the practice is like.
The practice room usually has a mirror along the entire front wall, people sweat so much that it’s necessary to lay a large towel over one’s mat, and since it’s so hot people typically wear the smallest clothing possible.
(Of course there are other types of heated classes, like Ashtanga, and some Hatha Flow classes, which are usually heated to between 80 and 90°.)
And so when people call about Hot Yoga, my response is always: "We don’t offer Hot Yoga - Have you practiced Hot Yoga before?"
If their answer is yes, it turns into a pretty short phone call. They’ve done it before and they know what they’re looking for.
But if they’ve never practiced Hot Yoga and they’re calling because their friend/aunt/neighbor/favorite celebrity etc. told them they should try it, it usually turns into a longer conversation.
The thing about Hot Yoga is that it is beneficial for some people, but not all people. If you are fit, healthy, and have excellent body awareness, Hot Yoga can possibly be safe and beneficial for you.
But if you’re not fit, if you have health issues, and/or if you’re brand new to yoga and have not developed very good body awareness, Hot Yoga may very well be unsafe and injurious to you.
When you walk into a Hot Yoga class it’s 105°F. It really is an accomplishment just to stay in the room. Before the yoga practice even begins you’re already sweating.
Then you launch into a 90 minute practice of 26 very intense yoga poses which are each repeated twice.
If you visit the link above you'll see that the poses are appropriate for advanced asana practitioners, but maybe not so much for beginners and intermediate asana practitioners or people who have injuries or health issues.
The heat in the room causes your muscles to soften so that you can stretch more deeply, which sounds like a good idea for people with tight muscles, but the problem is that if you haven’t yet developed good body awareness it’s easy to overstretch and cause yourself an injury, especially if the teacher (as is pretty typical for Hot Yoga teachers) provides a lot of verbal cues to motivate you to push harder.
Why am I telling you all of this?
Because I want you to know that there are many different styles of yoga. Not all yoga is meant for young, fit, healthy people.
I meet people all the time who tell me they’d love to practice yoga but they can’t because (fill in the blank).
I want people to know that Yoga (really is) for Every Body. There is a style appropriate and beneficial for every single person. Whether you are inflexible, overweight, have had a spinal fusion, use a brace or prosthetic, have bad knees, a bad back, a joint replacement, chronic pain, a disability, mental health issues, chronic disease, or anything else, YOU CAN PRACTICE YOGA!
You can experience the benefits of yoga: more ease in your body, a calmer mind, a more peaceful spirit. It’s just a matter of finding the right kind of yoga for you.
If you are interested in practicing yoga but don’t know where to start, please give us a call! We’d love to talk to you and help you find the perfect class for you.
And by the way, if you're craving a warm practice, typical yogic breathing will warm you up from the inside. Just ask us how!
I'd love to know your take on Hot vs. Not. Why do you love Hot Yoga? Why do you love unheated yoga? Please share your thoughts in the Comments below.