Hot Yoga

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COLUMBIA - The practice of hot yoga is increasing with popularity, offering both physical and mental health benefits.

Yoga instructor Anne Janku says yoga has been in the United States since the 1970s, but was somewhat under the radar.  It became slightly more popular in the mid-2000s, and now she said it has "mushroomed" in recent years.

Hot yoga, also referred to as Vinyasa or Bikram yoga, is a newer concept.  It originated on the west coast and is beginning to grow in different parts of the country.  Some room temperatures are around 80 degrees while others can get up to the 90s.

Janku has taught yoga for two years and this is her sixth year as an instructor as Wilson's Fitness. She said the warmer room temperature allows for deeper stretching and more fluid body movement.

"It helps to heat the body up more so it becomes more fluid, and then when we get into the stretching part of it, it allows us to relax our muscles more," Janku said.

In addition to the physical aspect, Janku said the heat benefits mental health, helping one to enter a state of euphoria and to release more endorphins.

Leigh Habermehl is new to the notion of hot yoga.  She attended one of Janku's Saturday morning classes for the first time and plans on taking up the practice.

"I think hot yoga is something I'd like to do a lot of, I'm a beginner at it but it's very, very relaxing and pushes my limits a little more," Habermehl said.

According to the Walgreens Wellness Health Corner, studies show yoga can decrease blood pressure and actually massages organs inside your body, helping them to work better and keep away disease.  FitnessRx magazine said the heat in hot yoga can ease ailments and helps to feed the muscles, increasing oxygen circulation.  It also can encourage weight loss by working the endocrine glands to speed up metabolism.

While hot yoga does have health benefits, it may not be for everyone.  According to U.S. News and World Report, those who have sensitivity to heat, have ever had a heat stroke or get dizzy easily should ask a doctor before starting hot yoga.  It's also advised for those with osteoporosis or a previous injury to consult a doctor beforehand. While yoga can lower blood pressure, those with high blood pressure or heart disease should check with a cardiologist before trying the heated form.

Experts advise that before a hot yoga class, you should:

  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Not consume more than 200 calories two or three hours before the class
  • Start slowly
  • Stop if overwhelmed with dizziness, nausea or feeling too overheated

Janku said she thinks hot yoga will to continue to grow in popularity across the United States.  She expects to see a following and wants to always implement new strategies to her classes.