The importance of water has been stressed in The Hidden Messages In Water and in Let Your Fluids Flow. Water is our life source, it is prana. We will die if we don’t drink enough water, unless you are Buddha Boy.
The impact of stress has also been discussed in previous blogs. Here’s a recap since it has been a few weeks… According the World Health Organization, stress is the “health epidemic of the 21st century.” Stress kills 7 people every 2 seconds, that is 110 million people every year. According to the Center for Disease Control and the National Institute on Occupational Safety & Health the workplace is the number one life stressor.
Now we all know that stress causes death and not enough water causes death. What could possibly happen to the human body if we combine physical stress and severe dehydration… maybe, DEATH and if not death, then dis-ease and disease!
STRESS, DEHYDRATION AND HOT YOGA
The majority of yoga practitioners attend yoga to decrease stress because they are suffering from stress. Nowadays it is almost impossible to find a yoga class that is not heated or with adequate ventilation causing the room to heat up to 95 – 117°F with 40% humidity. This is NOT a sauna. Sauna, with the right education on its use with exercise, has amazing benefits.
Some hot yoga rooms turn up the heat without understanding the relationship between heat and humidity. The HOT yoga craze is out of control and yoga/exercise instructors are not educated on how HOT rooms affect the human body. Even worse, Bikram Choudhury, the founder of Bikram Yoga, has made unfounded beneficial effects of practicing in extreme heat. Interestingly, when Bikram was asked by one of his students (whom shall remain nameless) during a teacher training why the room is heated, he replied because “these stupid Americans can’t do yoga.”
According to Bikram Yoga Delta and The Hot Room Yoga the recommended temperature is a minimum of 105ºF degrees and approximately 40% humidity for the following reasons: (I will address 1 each week until all of them have been addressed).
A HEATED ROOM KEEPS THE BODY FROM OVERHEATING
A hot yoga class is heated up to 95 – 117°F with approximately 40% humidity. In addition to the heated room, ujjayi breath along with yoga postures, like any form of cardiovascular exercise, increases body temperature. But, let’s not underestimate the human body, as it is highly intelligent. It has a built in temperature regulating system that keeps it at a normal healthy temperature. Hot yoga, for the sake of argument, is a hot room with heated up practitioners trying to maintain a normal healthy body temperature. The body’s internal temperature regulatory system maintains a healthy body temperature at around 98.6°F regardless of physical activity or environment. This internal regulatory system works to release heat via SWEATING and evaporation of sweat from our skin. Both the act of sweating and evaporation of sweat cools the body down. The combination of heat and humidity preventing sweat from evaporating from the skin to maintain a healthy body temperature in conjunction with the loss of sodium and potassium increases the release of stress hormones. The body will continue to sweat to cool itself down until there is no more water to pull from the bloodstream. When one stops sweating, one is severly dehydrated.
Dehydration is a condition with symptoms ranging from fatigue, nausea, vomiting, foggy thinking, and dizziness to life threatening conditions including heat exhaustion and heat stroke that require immediate treatment to prevent severe adverse reactions and death. This kind of severe dehydration is unlikely to happen unless you are already dehydrated prior to a hot yoga class. Caffeinated and sugary drinks including coffee and soda in addition to minimal water intake will cause dehydration. In fact, many people suffer from chronic dehydration to point where the body has compensated to its dehydrated state.
Dehydration along with daily stressors of life put you in a chronic state of stress. Remember, “stress is the health epidemic of 21st century.” The impact of chronic stress on the body, no matter if these stressors are physical, emotional or spiritual, causes the body to be in a constant state fight or flight. The parasympathetic nervous system (our rest and repair nervous system) cannot get activated. We stay in a constant fight or flight of our sympathetic nervous system during a 90-minute yoga class. Yoga should never cause distress or stress.
Thus, Bikram’s claim that A HEATED ROOM KEEPS THE BODY FROM OVERHEATING…IS FALSE! IT ONLY ENCOURAGES FURTHER DEHYDRATION AND THE RELEASE OF STRESS HORMONES (which is likely why you feel so high after class)!
PLEASE COMMENT YOUR THOUGHTS!
Up next: Hot Yoga protects the muscles to allow for deeper stretching