When we think of yoga and all its variations, we tend to think of it as a way for suburban moms and hippies to stay in shape, but it is time to dive past these stereotypes. Yoga, and hot yoga, have major health benefits and are used by many professional athletes. Hot yoga is exactly what it sounds like — it is yoga done in a sauna-like environment where the temperature is typically over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Before you begin hot yoga, it is important to make sure that you are hydrated, in solid physical shape, and once you begin, make sure to stop if you feel lightheaded. After all, you are doing strenuous activity in very high temperatures.
We’ve all heard of downward dog, but for many of us, that is where our yoga knowledge begins and ends. A typical yoga session consists of rotating through a series of poses, with each pose designed to stretch or engage a different group of muscles. For example, practitioners of yoga may be in up in the plank pose, which primarily works the core, before switching over to the cobra pose to help stretch the lower back. The New York Times illustrates these poses and includes other poses designed for beginners. Now with hot yoga, you will be working through this circuit of poses in an incredibly humid and hot environment.
Why any sane person would actively seek out more unpleasant temperatures for their workout is a reasonable question, and the answer lies in the advantages hot yoga provides, even compared to regular yoga. The first major benefit is that the higher temperatures will allow your muscles to be more flexible. Anyone who lives in an area that experiences all four seasons can attest that you are much less stiff mowing the lawn in the summertime heat compared to shoveling the snow off the driveway. Another benefit specific to hot yoga is that hot yoga forces you to sweat, which has numerous health benefits such as helping to filter out toxins and improve the quality of your skin.
And while you may still be able to receive the benefits of sweat by merely having a beer in your backyard on an August day, one of the biggest draws to yoga are the mental benefits. A Harvard Health Publishing article examining how yoga can relieve anxiety and depression notes that, “By reducing perceived stress and anxiety, yoga appears to modulate stress response systems,” which will in turn help with “reducing the heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and easing respiration.” Hot yoga allows you to relax and practice techniques that are designed to help calm you, and the stress relief will follow you long after you have stepped outside the sweltering heat of the hot yoga studio.
A saying among players is that NFL stands for “not for long.” Players grind through a grueling season where their bodies are punished on a weekly basis and the risk of injury is incredibly high. One way that some players look to extend their career is through yoga. In these videos, you can watch both Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill and 49ers tight end George Kittle perform yoga. When yoga is working for some of the NFL’s best pass catchers, it certainly can help you to dominate your men’s league or simply relieve stress about work.
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