By: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed
The seasonal practice of different styles of Yoga is quite effective for mitigating many of the challenging emotional and physical aspects of each season. The transformative effect of Yoga becomes truly apparent with regular, daily practice. In addition, by practicing certain styles of Yoga during the different seasons, particularly in temperate geographical areas, you will be able to maintain a state of homeostasis and well-being throughout the year.
If you live in an area that is experiencing the depth of winter right now, practicing Hot Yoga may help you to increase your metabolism, lose weight, improve your mood, and detoxify your system. The practice of Hot Yoga is usually done in a studio that is heated up to 104 degrees. There are also more moderate classes, known as Warm Yoga, for those of us that would like to experience practicing in a heated room, without the temperature being quite so high.
In the Northeastern United States, the winters can be very cold and long. Although it is beautiful to venture outside on a brilliantly, bright sunny day, after a blizzard that left a foot and a half of snow, the cold temperatures and additional work of clearing all the snow can leave you feeling tired, sore and chilled to the bone. If this is the case for you, practicing Yoga in a heated studio can be just the medicine that the doctor ordered!
The warming and detoxifying effects of a Hot Yoga class will help to keep the life force energy, or prana, flowing freely throughout your body. This is especially important during the cold winter months, when many of us tend to cut back on our physical activities and stay indoors. Practicing in a heated room also helps to loosen up tight muscles, so that you can move more deeply into the postures and make substantial progress in your practice.
Practicing Hot Yoga also stimulates the metabolism and digestive fire, which helps to shed extra weight, as you burn calories and reduce excess water weight. A Hot Yoga class will also improve your cardiovascular fitness because the heat will help to increase your heart rate as you move through the postures. The heating, limbering and detoxifying effects of a Hot Yoga practice make this type of practice ideal for balancing out the bone chilling, icy winter months.
A note of caution, however, does go a long way to be careful to avoid pushing yourself too hard if you have a cardiac condition or high blood pressure. If you do have any kind of heart condition or are hypertensive, please choose a Warm Yoga class or a class that is offered in a “regularly” heated room or studio. If you really would like to practice in a moderately heated room, please check with your health care provider first, to make sure it is safe for you to do so.
Practicing Yoga in a heated room not only helps to reduce excess weight, it also can help to boost your mood. As you flow through a series of Ashtanga-inspired postures, you will find yourself breathing more deeply, in order to accommodate the physical demands of this aerobic form of Yoga. This increased oxygenation will help to clear away mental fogginess as fresh blood circulates through the entire body, including the brain. Practicing in a heated room will also improve your mood by helping you to drop any internal baggage that you are carrying, at least while you are in class.
The demands of a Hot Yoga class are so substantial that it is nearly impossible to fret about your to-do list while you are class! This mental “breath of fresh air” will provide you with a new perspective on many of the situations in your life that may be causing you a certain degree of anxiety or emotional duress. Generally speaking, when I walk out of a Hot Yoga class, I feel like I have been scrubbed clean from the inside out! This lightness of being is reflected in the peace in my heart, as I lightly move back into my life with a fresh perspective and a more enthusiastic spirit, a state, which is often experienced by many Hot Yoga enthusiasts.
Virginia Iversen, M.Ed, has been practicing and studying the art of Yoga for over twenty years. She lives in Woodstock, New York, where she works as a writer and an academic support specialist. She is currently accepting Yoga and health-related writing orders and may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.