What is Hot Yoga?
Since a warm body is a flexible body, hot yoga is practiced in a room heated to anywhere between 26°C to 40°C. This challenging form of yoga comprises numerous Hatha yoga postures and some pranayama breathing techniques, sequences that work synergistically to improve health and wellbeing.

What are the Benefits?
Hot Yoga is known for its healing benefits and for its ability to calm and train the mind. The practice was developed to target every cell of the body, creating a revitalized, strong, lean, balanced and healthier body. The heated room serves to help deepen stretching and prevent injury, while also reducing stress and tension. Enthusiasts claim that Hot Yoga has the potential to restore health to every part of the body, from muscles, joints and internal organs, to the lungs, digestive system, lymphatic and immune systems. Circulation is also an important part of Hot Yoga’s theory, as many of the poses create a tourniquet effect at certain joints, cutting off circulation for a moment before allowing freshly oxygenated blood to circulate back through. Practitioners also maintain that the breathing exercises, or pranayama, can help with lung capacity.

What is the Format?
Classes are typically 90 minutes long, with 26 beginning, classic Hatha postures and two breathing exercises, all in a heated room. During class, everyone is asked to stay in the room, no matter how you are feeling. If you feel dizzy or nauseous, or tire, instructors encourage you to sit down until you feel grounded. Not only is this for safety reasons, but it also helps to develop concentration, determination, and discipline.

What Should I Know Before I Go?
Staying hydrated throughout the day, both before AND after practice, is crucial. It is advised that you refrain from eating a meal at least 2-3 hours before class. Wear light and tight clothing as you will be sweating: sports bras or tight tanks with tight shorts or leggings for women, and shorts for men. Mat and towel rentals are available at most Hot Yoga studios – you’ll want at least one towel with you. First-timers should arrive 10-20 minutes early to the studio to fill out paperwork.

Who Should Avoid Hot Yoga?
Hot Yoga’s sequence of postures and breathing exercises is accessible to most people, regardless of flexibility or yogic experience. In fact, it is said that those who have injuries, haven’t been working out or have other medical problems are the first to see the benefits. However, it is strongly recommended that you consult with your physician before beginning any exercise program and that people with high blood pressure, a heart condition, osteoporosis or a disc issue avoid hot yoga. Pregnant women are not usually permitted to do hot yoga without a physician’s consent form.

Is Hot Yoga the Same as Bikram Yoga?
While similar in that both types of yoga are done in a heated room, there are many key differences:

– Hot yoga can incorporate many different poses that vary by class and studio, while Bikram yoga consists of the same 26 poses and two breathing exercises performed in the same order every class for exactly 90 minutes.
– Bikram yoga studios (often called “torture chambers”) are heated to 40.5°C with 40 percent humidity.
– Bikram yoga studios are carpeted with mirrors on the front wall and bright lighting, while hot yoga can be performed with dim lights, by candlelight, and on any surface.
– There can be no music, clapping, or hands-on instructor adjustments in Bikram yoga and students are not permitted to speak. Hot yoga, on the other hand, often has music playing during the class and students are allowed to interact with each other and with the instructor.

In Canada, hot and warm yoga classes have been available for a number of years, and new takes on hot yoga are emerging. At Oxygen Yoga & Fitness, modern yoga is fused with fitness in FAR Infrared Heat, likened to being at the beach. The technology raises the body’s core temperature in a natural, comfortable way without blowing dry air or humidity, wrapping the warm balmy temperature around you as you prepare for a powerful workout.

According to Oxygen, “FAR Infrared heat penetrates the tissue, joints and muscles relieving minor aches and pains. It can also speed up injury recovery and reduce symptoms of chronic pain and stiffness.” Plus, as “the body works to cool itself, there is a substantial increase in heart rate, cardiac output and metabolic rate causing the body to burn more calories.”

View Oxygen’s over 50 locations across Canada, or search for a hot yoga studio near you.