HOT YOGA: Is A Better Cardiovascular Workout


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Since when do we do yoga for a cardiovascular work-out? Aren’t we going into the yoga room to become enlightened, to de-stress, to breathe?  Isn’t the physical practice of yoga a moving meditation?  Don’t misunderstand me here, I walked into the yoga room because something inside me knew I was not emotionally or spiritually okay. When I first started practicing yoga (Ashtanga) I finally started breathing.  The TRUTH, my motivation was fueled to practice yoga because it was a great workout, I was hypermobile and my ego was feed being able to practice all the “advanced” postures like scorpion.  Ashtanga and vinyasa flow allowed me to meditate, exercise and breathe all in 1.5 hours.  During this time in my life there were not enough hours in my day to exercise and meditate, nor was my mind even capable of sitting quietly.

Remembering my own yoga journey, I no longer have judgment about why people choose practice yoga.  With that said, I do have judgment on what yoga has become in the last decade with goat yoga, hot yoga, 420 yoga, acroyoga, etc…  With Bikram’s claims and the sexual misconduct/assault allegations made against him, maybe Bikram is one of the “yogis” who ruined the western ideology of what yoga asana is….

This brings me to Bikram’s next claim:

Hot yoga increases heart rate for a better cardiovascular workout.

When you excessively sweat to cool the body down, the loss of water from the bloodstream decreases blood volume, lowering blood pressure.  When blood pressure decreases due to the loss of volume, the heart has to beat harder and faster to move blood throughout the body to all the vital organs.  Many healthy individuals can tolerate the lowered blood pressure changes due to this fluid loss as the body is magnificent at compensating.  However, by mere definition, to compensate means “something counterbalances or makes up for an undesirable or unwelcome state of affairs.”  There will be an equal and opposite reaction that is not ultimately beneficial to body to maintain homeostasis.

In practitioners with damaged or weakened hearts, compromised cardiovascular systems, cancer, diabetes, stroke, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease, this fluid shift dulls the brains response to dehydration.  Medications like diuretics, some antihistamines, antidepressants and anticonvulsants cause dehydration and interfere with heat regulation that causes the body to dangerously over heat.  Medications, such as beta blockers, slow the heartbeat limiting the hearts ability to circulate the blood fast enough for effective heat exchange.  High cholesterol narrows the arteries restricting blood flow to the skin affecting heat exchange.

Are individuals with medication conditions walking into a Bikram room/hot yoga room? YES.  You may or may not know who has what and what medications they are on.  As a yoga teacher, it is your responsibility to keep your students safe.  As a yoga practitioner, it is your responsibility to be HONEST with yourself and your yoga teacher!

Moral of this blog post – hot yoga only increases heart rate because of the loss of fluids putting stress on the cardiovascular system.

Any questions???

Namaste,

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