Sauna Yoga for Beginners: Benefits, Tips & Poses

Sauna yoga

You’ve probably heard about the benefits of yoga, but what about sauna yoga? This trendy new fitness craze is all the rage for a reason- it’s amazing for your health!

Sauna yoga is a relatively new practice. It combines the best of both worlds, providing all the benefits of a traditional yoga session with the bonus of a sauna. 

This post will teach you all about sauna yoga and how to get started.

What Is Sauna Yoga?

Hot Yoga is a type of yoga that involves sweating in hot and humid conditions. It’s a combination of two activities that are already great for your health: yoga and sauna bathing. Sauna yoga is a great way to relax and detoxify your body. 

The heat from the sauna helps to loosen up your muscles and make them more flexible, while the yoga poses help to improve your circulation and stretch your body. It’s relaxing, detoxifying, and energizing all at the same time.

History

Bikram Choudhury leads a class in San Diego in 2010. Photograph: Rebecca Greenfield/Polaris/ eyevine

The practices attempt to replicate the heat and humidity in India, the birthplace of yoga. Yoga teacher Bikram Choudhury was the original creator of hot yoga. He suggested that Bikram Yoga’s heated environment helps prepare the body to move and “remove all impurities.” 

Many yoga practitioners continued with the heat when the popularity of yoga spread to other countries in the 20th century. 

Bikram Choudhury discovered yoga while teaching in Japan. He was experiencing extreme cold and found it difficult to perform his poses during winter. So, he bought space heaters. 

Choudhury discovered that it was easier to be flexible in asanas in the heat and brought the heaters with him when he opened his first studio in San Francisco, California, in 1972. 

That was the beginning of Bikram Yoga. Those following K. Pattabhi Jois also brought the Mysore heat along to Ashtanga. The descendants of Ashtanga Power Yoga, as well as other vinyasa styles, continued the trend. 

While Ashtanga’s high-temperature origins are due to climate and heat generated by vigorous exercise, western practitioners tend to emphasize the room’s temperature more and regulate it with thermostats and heaters.  

Hot Yoga Styles 

Bikram Yoga class

There are all sorts of different hot yoga styles, and the temperatures they’re performed at vary wildly. You will find temperatures from 90°F to 108°F with different levels of humidity. Here’s a heat index of six hot styles. 

Bikram   

Bikram is the most popular type of hot yoga. It’s the original hot yoga class. Bikram Choudhury created Bikram Yoga in the 1970s. The studios are heated up to 105 degrees F and have 40% humidity. 

It is a 90-minute class that goes through 26 poses in a series. This workout is often copied. The workout sequence can also raise the heat to 105 degrees F. 

Baptiste Power Vinyasa    

BaptistePower Vinyasa is based in Boston and has affiliated studios in over 20 other states. It offers hot flow yoga following the Baron Baptiste style. Studios are heated to around 95 degrees F to facilitate stretching,  

CorePower Yoga    

CorePower Yoga has many classes to choose from, with each class having its own temperature. CorePower Yoga 2 (C2) is an all-levels hot flow class. It takes place in a room kept between 93-98 degrees F. 

This Hot Yoga class is similar to Bikram. It involves 26 poses in a 105-degree F room.

Evolation Yoga    

The style is rapidly growing and was founded by Mark Drost, a former senior Bikram instructor. 

There are studios in South America, the United States, as well as affiliates in Europe, Asia, and Australia. Evolation offers Bikram’s sequence at 105°F. Other offerings are available from 75 to 90°F. 

Moksha or Modo Yoga    

Moksha Yoga is a Canadian yoga franchise. They are also known as Modo Yoga in America. Students with limited time can choose to do a shorter 60 or 75-minute version.  

The Benefits of Sauna Yoga

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When you think of yoga, you probably think of a calm and Zen environment, with people peacefully flowing from one pose to the next. But what if we told you that you could get all those and more benefits in a yoga sauna? 

Regulates Blood Glucose Levels

Sauna yoga can help regulate blood glucose levels. When you’re in the sauna, your body temperature rises, which causes your heart rate and blood pressure to go up. 

This increase in your heart rate and blood pressure is similar to what happens when you work out.

So when your body goes through this temperature increase, your muscles produce more heat. This, in turn, makes your body work harder to cool down, which results in an increased heart rate and calorie burn. 

And when you combine all of that with the stretching and breathing exercises, you get a workout that’s great for your overall health and wellbeing.

Boosts Heart Health

You may not know this, but sauna yoga can actually boost your heart health. The heat from the sauna helps to get your blood flowing, and the yoga moves help to stretch and tone your body.

Not only that, but it is also a great way to relax and de-stress. The combination of the heat and the yoga poses is really soothing, and it can also help to improve your mental clarity.

Improves Skin Health

Sauna yoga is perfect for improving your skin health. By combining the detoxifying effects of a sauna with the stretching and cleansing of yoga, you’re getting the best of both worlds.

The heat from the sauna will also help to loosen up your muscles, while the yoga poses will help to elongate them. Not to mention, combining the two will help improve your circulation, which is great for your skin.

Increased Flexibility

The heat from the sauna helps to loosen up your muscles so you can achieve a greater range of motion. This can help you to improve your posture and increase your flexibility.

Greater Lung Capacity

Like other forms of yoga that emphasize breathing exercises and lung capacity, hot yoga increases lung capacity through breathing pranayama

When you’re in the sauna, your lungs will start to work harder as they try to get more oxygen. This breathing exercise increases lung capacity. 

This type of breathing is used to begin a yoga session. It involves standing up and deep breathing. It allows the lungs and diaphragm to expand, which results in maximum utilization of the lungs and deeper breathing. 

As you continue to practice sauna yoga, you’ll find that you’ll be able to breathe easier overall.

Burns Calories

Hot yoga is a great way to burn calories and get your sweat on. It can help you burn over 400 calories in just 60 minutes. 

Your body will also be more flexible if it is exposed to warm environments. This allows you to stretch your body more easily. 

Sauna Yoga for Beginners

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So you’re interested in giving sauna yoga a try? Awesome! Here are a few tips to help you get started. 

First, make sure you’re wearing comfortable clothing that you can move in. You don’t want anything too tight or constricting.

Next, find a space in your home where you can set up your hot yoga room. If you don’t have access to a real sauna, you can use an infrared heater instead. Make sure the space is big enough for you to move around.

Once you’ve got that sorted, it’s time to get started. Warm up your body with a few basic sun salutations or some simple stretching exercises. 

Then, it’s time to get into the sauna. Start by sitting down and getting comfortable. Take a few deep breaths and relax your body.

When you’re ready, start moving through the poses. Be mindful of your breath and how your body feels. If something feels uncomfortable or painful, take a break. ‘

Remember, practice makes perfect. With time and patience, you’ll be able to do all the poses easily.

Eating Before and After Taking a Hot Yoga Session

It’s important to fuel your body before and after a hot yoga session. Before your class, make sure you have a balanced meal that includes protein and healthy carbs. This will give you the energy you need to get through your class. 

And after your class, make sure you eat something light and healthy—like a salad, smoothie, or some fruit. You want to give your body the necessary nutrients to recover from your workout. 

How Long Should a Hot Yoga Session Last?

Most hot yoga classes last for 90 minutes, but some can be shorter depending on the style or instructor. You should always talk to the instructor before the class starts to find out how long it will be.

If you’re new to hot yoga, it is recommended that you start with shorter classes until you get used to it. The heat can be a bit overwhelming at first, and you don’t want to overdo it.

Who Should Not Practice Hot Yoga

Not everyone is suited for hot yoga. If you have any of the following conditions, it’s best to avoid hot yoga classes: 

  • Heart problems 
  • High blood pressure
  • Asthma
  • Pregnancy
  • Recent surgery

If you’re not sure whether hot yoga is right for you, consult your doctor before signing up for a class.

Risks of Hot Yoga

As with any type of yoga, there are always risks involved. But with hot yoga, those risks are heightened because of the heat. It can lead to dehydration in some people. Extreme cases can cause heat exhaustion or heat stroke. 

Make sure you drink plenty of water before and after class, and if you’re feeling lightheaded or dizzy, stop and take a break. It’s also important to listen to your body and not push yourself too hard. If you’re not used to the heat, it’s best to start off with a beginner class.

Sauna Yoga Poses

When doing sauna yoga, it’s important to choose poses that will help you get the most out of the heat. Here are a few beginner-friendly poses to try:

Half Moon Pose

Start by standing on top of your mat. Ensure your right foot is facing towards your head. Place your top hip over your lower hip and extend your torso to your left. 

Next, extend your left arm straight up and point your fingers directly at the sky. You should be able to balance there.  

Firmly press your right hand into your foot. Straighten your right leg and lift your left leg. Your left leg should be parallel to the ground. Reach your left arm out and point your fingers directly at the sky. 

As you inhale, press down on your left heel and lift your torso. Lower your arms. Reverse your position by turning to the left and then repeat the process on the opposite side. 

Standing Deep Breathing

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When you’re starting out, practicing some basic deep breathing exercises is a good idea. This will help you get used to the heat and the humidity.

To do standing deep breathing, stand with your feet together and your hands to your heart. Inhale deeply and press the chin up while closing the palm and elbow. As you exhale, press the chin in the knuckle as you point the elbows up. 

Inhale and exhale again. Repeat a few times.

Hands to Feet

To do the Hands to Feet pose, stand straight up and place your feet parallel to each other. Lift your arms high above your head, and then lock your hands. Now cross your thumbs and release your index fingers. 

Start by bending forward while keeping your arms in line. Continue to engage your core, reaching towards your feet as you bend forward. Hold onto your heels with your hands from behind. 

Triangle Pose

Start standing and then slowly jump your feet to a position of about 3 to 4 feet. To face the other direction, turn your left foot forward and extend your left foot. Make a slight bend in the left leg, and then raise your arms up on your sides to form a “T”. 

Now reach your torso as far as you can over your left foot. Your hips should be pointing back. Turn your left palm toward the ceiling and look out over your left arm. 

Keep your spine straight as you reach for the mat. Place your left foot in front of your right foot. You can bring your back leg closer and shorten your stance to balance yourself. 

Ensure your right arm is straight up. Continue holding the position and moving to the opposite side. 

There are much more yoga poses you can try and experiment with. If you’re interested in Bikram Yoga, here are 26 poses you can try in a sauna.

Conclusion

Sauna yoga is a great way to get all of the benefits of a sauna and a yoga class in one session. You can improve your flexibility, strength, and cardiovascular health while you sweat out toxins and relax in a comfortable environment.

Happy yoga-ing!

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