Here in the northeast we get both extremes of weather: very hot and very cold. Since we’re headed towards the colder weather, the debate over which extreme is better has naturally resurfaced. Constituents for Team Cold Weather argue that cold weather is better because you can always put more clothing on, but in hot weather there’s only so much you can take off.
While that is a valid argument, I’m definitely on Team Hot Weather. I hate being cold. I totally shut down when I’m cold. I just don’t want to do anything or go anywhere. I can’t sleep if I’m cold. I just can’t do anything when it’s cold.
I love heat. I like the way it feels on my skin. I feel alive. I guess that’s why I was naturally drawn to hot yoga. I know some of you are rolling your eyes at the mention of the word “yoga” and others are picturing people with their legs crossed upside-down indian-style chanting weird stuff, but hear me out.
First, there are so many different forms of yoga. The reason there are so many different forms is that there are so many different reasons for practicing yoga. You can practice yoga for strength or you can practice for flexibility. You can practice to heal an injury or for weight loss. You can practice for meditation or for stress relief. Chances are there is a form of yoga that would work for you.
This piece would turn into a book if I wrote about all of the different forms of yoga so I’ll focus on the yoga I practice: Bikram Yoga. Bikram Yoga is the practice of 26 specific postures in a room that is maintains a temperature between 95 and 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Did I mention I love heat?
In India, where yoga originates, the temperature is generally around 100 degrees Fahrenheit. When the temperature is that high people benefit more from their yoga by being able to go deeper into their postures since the heat loosens the muscles. The sweating is another added benefit because sweat aids the body in detoxification.
Unlike many other yoga practices, a Bikram Yoga class moves through the same exact poses every single class. The 26 postures have been selected to optimize the body’s detoxification and healing processes. Other benefits to Bikram Yoga include weight loss, strength training and injury recovery.
Weight loss from yoga? Yes! Even though you’re not running around your heart rate definitely gets going. For weight loss all you need is to break a sweat and an elevated heart rate. You definitely get both in Bikram Yoga. The postures also work on your metabolism by getting your internal systems working more in harmony.
But wait, there’s more! Bikram Yoga also helps to strengthen your joints, improve your posture, improve your breathing and strengthen your muscles. It’s especially good for your abdominal muscles. I know what you’re thinking: six pack for the summertime!
There is also a mental aspect to Bikram Yoga. It’s not what you think. No chanting or anything like that. In order for your practice to be effective, you really need to focus only on what you are doing in each posture. This sounds easy, but it’s really not. At first, I dismissed it as hogwash. But I definitely notice that when I focus more I can hold the postures better and just have a better experience.
With all of the craziness and distraction we have in our lives, it’s definitely beneficial to be able to just really forget about everything else and focus on what you’re doing. It helps your mental clarity and makes your practice so much more effective. The mental focus that you practice also carries over into your everyday life. I know that I’ve benefited from it because I’m definitely easily distracted. I’ve found that I focus more and more in my daily life than I did before I began Bikram Yoga.
I am partial to Bikram Yoga because the benefits are all things that I’m looking for, but you can do some other type of yoga that suits you better. I go to a studio to practice since heating my house to 100 degrees Fahrenheit daily would probably ruin my hardwood floors. But you don’t have to do the same. You don’t have to go to a fancy studio to practice.
You can get a yoga video and practice in your living room. You can even look up yoga videos online. Yogatoday.com is a good start. They have a free class every week. Bikram practice is 90 minutes, but you can do other forms of yoga for just 15 minutes and get some benefits.
Today I’ll be starting a 30-day challenge where I’ll be practicing Bikram Yoga at least once a day, every day for 30 days. It won’t be easy, but I know I’ll be a new person at the end of it.
If you’ve never tried yoga this is a great time to give it a shot. Ask a friend, search online or buy a video. You can even write me for some tips. If you have tried yoga before, try it again. Or try a new form. Your body will thank you.
Until next time, cheers to a better you!
For questions, ideas, comments or concerns feel free to email Onyi at [email protected]
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