Interested in taking your yoga to the next level? Here are some quick tips on how keep cool in the heat!
North Americans spent almost three billion dollars on yoga instruction last year, with hot yoga rated as one of the fastest-growing yoga trends. Ironically, a class deemed as “too hot” is also the number-two reason a participant has walked out of a class.*
The American Council on Exercise (ACE) decided to look at hot yoga, specifically Bikram, to see if posing in such extreme temperatures lives up to its hype, and whether there is a risk associated with training in such intense heat.
The study looked at 20 healthy individuals performing the typical Bikram yoga session, which is 90 minutes long, consists of 26 poses and is performed in a room heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit with 40 per cent humidity. Devotees swear by the detoxifying benefits of the extreme sweat session, and thrive on the mental challenge required to perform challenging moves in intense heat.
Researchers found that while heart rate fluctuated throughout the class depending on the difficulty of the pose being performed, core temperature steadily increased throughout the 90-minute class. The average male core temperature was 103.2 degrees Fahrenheit, while women were slightly lower at 102. However, one man reached a core temperature of 104.1 degrees Fahrenheit, and 35 per cent of participants had a core temperature greater than 103 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the class. This is somewhat concerning since The National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) states that heat stroke and extertion-related heat illness can occur at a core temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
Does that mean that you should hang up your hot yoga towel? In a word, no. This style of yoga has many benefits in terms of the release of toxins, improving mindfulness, as well as strength and flexibility conditioning. The key to doing hot yoga safely is to stay hydrated. Make sure you drink often throughout classes and listen to your body. If you start to exhibit signs of heat exhaustion such as dizziness, a rapid pulse, or headache, stop exercising, move too a cool, well-ventilated area, drink fluids, and lay down.
It’s also safer to practice 60-minute Power Yoga sessions over the 90-minute Bikram practise since participants in the study didn’t experience dangerous core temperatures until after the 60-minute point of the class.
By Nancy Ripton
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