Hot yoga has become increasingly popular in Miami and throughout the United States. There are many benefits to practicing yoga in a warm room. The heat increases heart rate and metabolism allowing you to burn more calories while cleansing the body of old fluids. A warm room also expands blood vessels and allows the muscles to become more pliable. However, there are also several contraindications, if the room is too hot then it is possible to have heat stroke or severe dehydration. This can lead to nausea, dizziness, fainting, and muscle cramping. This is why in Skanda Yoga classes we keep the room at a temperature between 82-86 degrees. This allows you to have the benefits of practicing in a warm room to increase flexibility, without any of the potential negative side effects of practicing hot yoga in a very hot room. In Skanda Yoga vinyasa classes we utilize ujjayi (victorious) breath to create internal heat instead of the external heat that is standard in “Hot Yoga” or Bikram classes.
Inner heat is safer than external heat because the body is constantly gauging exertion levels and it is easy to slow down the practice to cool off when you have been going strong. In an externally heated hot yoga room there is no opportunity for the body to rest because it is always being bombarded with heat. The hypothalamus is responsible for maintaining the temperature of the body and it always keeps it at the ideal temperature of 98.6 or within a couple of degrees. When the body is heated then the hypothalamus sends messages to release salts and fluids through the skin. The evaporation process cools the body off. This process works well in a warm room that is not too hot, because the evaporation process cools the body. If practicing in a heated room that is above 90 degrees, then the heat and humidity in the room can interfere with the evaporation process, and the body is not able to cool off. This is why physical exertion in a hot yoga room can be dangerous, which is why Bikram Yoga or Hot Yoga is a designed sequence of 26 beginner’s poses, where the aim is flexibility and not strength. In Skanda Yoga we actively recruit strength to support increased flexibility. We work with intermediate and advanced poses for a more physically challenging practice, which produces natural self-generated heat which is safer for your body, and will best sustain your yoga practice long-term.