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Please, #nothotyoga in Houston

It’s that time of year again when you start sweating immediately after you walk out of your residence, or when you will do anything to go from one air conditioned building to another. It’s that time of year when our cars guzzle gas at an astonishing rate because the AC is always on full blast, and our home energy bills skyrocket because the only way to experience comfort is to keep the temps so cool it would make an Arctic tundra seem tropical. In these sweltering conditions, it’s hard to imagine why those living in the southern states would want to practice hot yoga. Usually the idea is the get away from the heat, not enter into an even hotter place.

In any case, outside of the obvious reason of being surrounded by heat in Houston, TX, there are other reasons why hot yoga may not be the safest practice for everyone. The biggest reasons of entering any kind of physical activity in the heat involves opening yourself to the very real possibilities of injury and dehydration. While these effects can be avoided, the average person (and new yoga practitioner) may not be aware of these not-so-great aspects of hot yoga, and more importantly, how to avoid injury and dehydration.

1. Hot yoga puts us at higher risk for injury. When we are all nice and warm, we feel super bendy and able to take on the world (or maybe just a challenging yoga pose). But, could you have gone there on your own? With added heat, we may stretch or push our bodies just a little bit farther than is safe and pain-free without the heat. You need to be really mindful of your limitations during a heated yoga class, otherwise we may try things that really, we are not ready for. So, maybe full splits wasn’t a good idea… *continues typing while icing my groin*

2. Hot yoga makes us susceptible to suffer dehydration. We already should be drinking more water on a daily basis than we probably are, and by adding in an activity where we are sweating at least 2-3 times more than other non-heated physical activity, we now are losing elements in our body that keep our processes going at a faster rate. Losing sodium in our sweat is natural and happens all the time, but you want to make sure that your intake matches your output, especially if you are going to be in the heat for a prolonged period of time. Athletes who are training for races in the heat begin their heat training months ahead of time, building up their tolerance to the heat and adding more fluids in their diet slowly. The practice of hot yoga assumes that everyone can stay in the room the whole time, and some studios are notorious for having a policy requiring students stay in the room. Being dizzy and nauseas are not natural responses to heat; they are signals from your body that something is off.

3. We will do anything to avoid hurting our ego. Why should/would we hold back if the person next to us is handling standing splits to handstand to full wheel? When the room is heated, our bodies can move a little more, yes, but should it? Without knowing the full practice history of the person next to you, it can be hard to logically think about why they are able to do something and you are not. For any yoga class, it is always advisable to leave your ego at the door. So many factors, both within and outside of our control, affect our yoga practice. Knowing that, who knows why the person next to us able to do more. Maybe they’re really awesome and have been practicing for years, or maybe they’re doing poses that they really shouldn’t be adding into their practice just yet.

4. Hello! It’s already so hot outside in Houston! Why would anyone want to step inside a building from 90-degree, 110% humidity weather into a classroom that is kept also at 90 degrees? We have a summer that lasts from April - October!

Keep in mind that any time you put your body under new physiological stress, you will always need time to adapt. If you are going to brave some heated classes, please do so safely. Of course, we can’t ignore the many benefits to putting your body in a heated environment (things like a sauna, a nice hot bath, or a massage with hot oils or stones come to mind), but exercising in the heat should not be taken lightly. There are so many ways to practice yoga effectively without the added heat in the room. A good instructor will be able to heat you up using your own breath and warming yoga poses to the point where these more challenging poses will be available to you.

The classes at Joy Yoga Center are not heated, but the practice is so powerful that you will feel the room get warm fast! Some classes will get the students heated up faster than others, so feel free to ask the friendly front desk associates which classes would be best suited for you.

Bhakti Chavda is a Joy Yoga employee and a recent Joy Yoga University graduate! Being a fully fledged 200 HR-RYT instructor, keep your eyes peeled on the schedule for her $5 community classes at Joy Yoga. She has a background in kinesiology and psychology, and enjoys a good power yoga class or run in the park. You can catch her welcoming yogis and yoiginis into class at the front desk, and can learn more about her at www.lonestaryoga.net.

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