You’re only as young as your spine is flexible!

“Yoga is the fountain of youth. You’re only as young as your spine is flexible.”
– Bob Harper

What better way to look after your spine than to enjoy a session in our hot yoga studio? Making sure your muscles and joints can perform at their best will help you look after your back.

The vertebral column is  made up of 33 bones stacked on top of each other with bony prominences to allow for the attachment of the back muscles. One of its jobs is to protect the spinal cord which transmits the nerve impulses to muscles, prompting them to contract and move.

There are five regions of the vertebral column with different jobs to do, all working in harmony to keep us fit and flexible:

  • Cervical – these vertebrae support the head
  • Thoracic – these allow for the attachment of the ribs
  • Lumbar – this is your lower back
  • Sacral – these are very strong bones fused together to support the weight of the upper body
  • Coccyx – this is a small, triangular bone at the bottom of the spine

The vertebral column has a natural curve to it. Any imbalance in the muscles or  postural problems that cause this natural curve to go out of shape can cause problems, such as pain or a loss of movement.

Our everyday lives can place stress on our vertebral column, for instance, if we sit hunched over a computer for long periods of time. Yoga can help to reduce the effects of our busy lives, by allowing us time to concentrate on our posture and on getting our muscles perfectly balanced.

 

Please consult your doctor before making changes to your lifestyle such as going on a diet or embarking on an exercise programme.

Sanctuary for the Soul

When life gets busy or stressful take control with yoga. The space on your mat is the perfect space to leave all your worries and concentrate on yourself and your practice. It’s a kind of sanctuary for the soul, a place where the answers can come and you can invest time and energy into your mind and body. Yoga can literally transform your body. Tight, tense muscles relax in the gorgeous heat of our studio and busy clouded minds find peace and stillness in the relaxation.

Our Style of Yoga – Vinyasa Flow

Here at Bolton Hot Yoga we very much go with the flow. Our yoga is a modern style of movement to fantastic sound tracks designed to energize, challenge and relax, all at the same time. Whatever your fitness goals, we can help and support you in your journey to achieve and eventually exceed them.

Our sequences flow with the breath. One sequence you’ll often experience when you practice with us is sun salutation early on in the class to help you warm up and connect with your breathing. This close connection between movement and breathing is an important feature of our style of yoga: vinyasa flow yoga. Poses flow seamlessly into each other in a logical way allowing for progression and success.

This style suits us perfectly because it allows a large range of options and postures to accommodate everyone, including total beginners and people with joint issues, more advanced and experienced athletes at the peak of their fitness and those working to regain fitness following an injury.

Yoga naturally helps muscles develop an extremely high level of static strength. Our sequences vary from fast paced ones to much slower ones, and contain isometric muscle contractions to challenge your fitness further. Isometric muscle contractions happen when your muscles are working hard but are not changing in length or creating a lot of movement at the joints. This allows the muscles to strengthen without placing stress on the joints which is one of the reasons yoga can be so helpful for people with joint issues and athletes recovering from injury.

Is our style of vinyasa flow yoga for you? Well, the only way to find out is to try it and see! If the first class you found doesn’t suit your style or your psyche, move on. Not all studios are the same. Keep trying different teachers and yoga styles until you find a combination you have a great connection with.

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Wind Down With A Steam Room Session

What better way to recover the day after hot yoga than relaxing in a steam room? If you read our recent post about DOMS you will be pleased to know that steam rooms are a perfect way to allow those muscles to recover and repair. The steam works more quickly than the dry heat of a sauna would.

For anyone suffering from stiff joints, the warmth helps to make the synovial fluid in the joints more pliable and less viscous and so will help improve the range of movement and flexibility.

It is often claimed that a short steam room session, no longer than 15 minutes, can help reduce blood pressure. Others attest to their reduced stress levels after they have enjoyed a relaxation session in the lovely moist, hot steam room environment.

These effects may be a result of the improvements to the circulation of blood around the body especially to the extremities, or could be the result of a hormone called aldosterone that is released which plays a key role in regulating blood pressure. As cortisol levels reduce, stressful feelings reduce with them, helping you feel calm and relaxed.

The steam opens your airways and helps you to breath deeply. Together with the improvements to your circulation, a rich supply of oxygenated blood flowing round your body helps to rejuvenate and repair as it goes.

Many of those who love steam rooms mention that one of the first benefits you’ll notice are to your skin. Steam rooms open up the pores and allow any toxins trapped underneath to be released and cleansed away, which means that adding a steam session regularly to your lifestyle should mean you’ll soon have clearer skin.

Unfortunately steam rooms are not a magic weight loss strategy and although after a steam session you might be a few pounds lighter, this is weight lost through dehydration. As soon as you replace the lost fluids, your weight will return to pre-steam room levels. It’s really important to replace fluid and wise to take water in with you to sip as you steam.

Steam rooms don’t suit everyone and there are potential downsides. Staying in the steam room too long can cause dehydration. The rooms can create a climate for germs and bacteria so make sure you use a sauna that is thoroughly cleaned and in good condition to reduce this risk. If you have underlying health concerns or have recently had surgery, get the all clear from your doctor before you go. Steam rooms are not recommended for pregnant ladies.

Please consult your doctor before making changes to your lifestyle such as going on a diet, embarking on an exercise programme or visiting a steam room. 

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

Had a great workout where you pushed yourself further than before? Got back to yoga class after a holiday?

You may feel some muscle soreness the next day or even the day. However fit you are, if you do that bit more exercise than you are used to, or a different form of exercise, it can leave you with DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). This is a normal response to exercise: some people view it as a really good sign that your muscles are growing stronger and you are getting fitter.

When your muscles work harder one of the short-term effects of exercise are small, microscopic tears to the muscle fibres and this is what causes the stiffness or soreness to occur. If you are new to exercising try not to let this put you off going again. Think of it as a key part in your body adapting to the new challenges: you will grow stronger and fitter as your muscles recover.

DOMS is different from the pain caused by a sprain or strain or any other type of injury you might experience whilst exercising. Any acute or sudden pain is a signal for you to stop what you are doing and get it checked out by a medical practitioner. Equally, if you experience heavy swelling, or your urine becomes dark it is a sign you need to get urgent help and advice. These complications are most often associated with high intensity exercise.

To avoid experiencing DOMS after a yoga session, start slowly and build up gradually, allowing your body time to adapt and change to meet your new activities. Exercising in our lovely warm studio after an energizing warm up should also help to reduce the risk of any muscle soreness the day after.

The good news is that the next time you come to class your body will have adapted and be ready to meet the challenges of your yoga session and there will be much less soreness and you will recover much quicker.  The more often you come the fitter you will get.

Please consult your doctor before making changes to your lifestyle such as going on a diet or embarking on an exercise programme. If you are at all worried, make sure you consult your health practitioner. 

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Yoga and Hypertension

So why is yoga so good for your health? Well, according to the British Heart Foundation an inactive person spends on average 38% more days in hospital than their active counterparts. Yoga is a fantastic way to make movement a bigger part of your lifestyle.

A recent study has found that yoga can help improve hypertension (blood pressure). Blood pressure is the measure of pressure exerted on the artery walls as blood flows through them and round your body. The highest number is the systolic pressure and this is when the left ventricle is just about to contract and force oxygen rich blood out of the heart. The bottom number (the diastolic phase) is when the heart is relaxed and refilling with blood.

High blood pressure is considered to be 140/90 or higher

Ideal blood pressure is considered to be between 90/60 and 120/80

Blood pressure

It’s been estimated that 40% of the adult population are hypertensive and that figure increases with age. The problem is that it is a silent disease that you won’t know about until something happens or until you have a routine check up.

If you suspect your blood pressure may be too high or too low, get your pressure checked by a health professional, or invest in a good blood pressure monitor.

Lifestyle changes can help control and manage your blood pressure and if action is needed, one of the recommendations is likely be to increase your levels of physical activity. Yoga is a great option as the movement, the meditation and the breathing exercises can all help to regulate your blood pressure.

It’s important to choose a reputable yoga studio with a great teacher who will be able to help and advise you. Always let your teacher know about any health concerns. Some postures are not recommended for people suffering with blood pressure issues but, as always, it’s possible to adapt a yoga session to suit your individual needs.

Please consult your doctor before making changes to your lifestyle such as going on a diet or embarking on an exercise programme. Yoga or any other activity should never be a substitute for consulting your health practitioner. 

Build your Confidence with Dolphin Pose!

Dolphins are amazing and this yoga pose is too, as it will challenge you mentally and physically. Dolphin pose is designed to open your shoulders and upper back, elongate your spine, stretch your hamstrings and build your upper body strength. It may look simple, but it calls on your concentration and willpower, especially towards that point towards the end of a session where your mind may tempt you to quit before your body is actually in need of a rest.

Dolphin pose is a great preparation for the build up to head stands and other inversions, boosting your confidence in what you can achieve. The strength you develop in your shoulders, back and deep core muscles will help you maintain your balance in a head stand – although this is definitely one to try under the careful and watchful supervision of a great yoga teacher!

A great addition to this pose is to lift one leg at a time high towards the ceiling or, if you need an easier option, try it using a yoga block between your hands.

Dolphins have a lifespan of up to 40 years and it can be the highlight of many peoples’ holidays to see them in the wild (kept in captivity without the freedom to wander the seas and rivers, they don’t survive anywhere near as long).Dolphins swimming.jpg Communicating with clicks, whistles and squeaks they use their fantastic sonar system to work out what is around them.

It seems fitting that the yoga pose named after them helps with proprioception, which is your body’s ability to sense where it is in space.

The inputs and sensations that guide your sense of positioning come from sensory nerves in your muscles and tendons (also known as muscle spindles) that also protect you from damaging them by stretching too far. It’s usually a subconscious process, but Dolphin pose helps fine tune the senses by demanding you pay attention to what you are doing physically.

Our favourite dolphins are spinner dolphins whose acrobatic gymnastics include spins and leaps, taking full advantage of their incredible power and speed through the water. To help maximise your own energy, try a hot yoga class and experience the great sense of freedom and enjoyment that comes when you challenge your body and mind to explore new and exciting postures.

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If you’d like to learn more, check out the Bolton Hot Yoga timetablebook a sessionvisit our home page, or get better understanding of our philosophy of yoga by reading some of our most popular posts.

And the All Time Classic Yoga Pose has to be…

Adho Mukha Svanasana

This classic yoga pose is fantastic for increasing your flexibility in your shoulders and hamstrings. One of the inversion poses, it’s also good for increasing the blood supply to your brain making this a very strengthening and invigorating pose.

There are a few adaptations you can make if this pose is too strong for you. It’s fine to bend the knees or you could opt for puppy dog pose, where you are kneeling. This takes some of the intensity of the pose away but keeps the super shoulder stretch. Your eye gaze (drishti) depends on where your heels are in this pose: if your heels are down, your eye gaze should be towards your navel; if your heels are lifted, your eye gaze is towards the back of the mat.

This pose often features in sun salutations as a key part of this dynamic, fluid, warm sequence of postures. It’s probably the pose that most people are familiar with since it energizes the body, helping to calm and focus the mind. You will feel an amazing stretch whilst you strengthen the arms and legs.

Some purists have specific ideas about the correct way to perform this pose but for us it is very much about listening to your body, finding that connection with movement, feeling the joy of exercise and being totally at one in the moment as you lift your hips up, straighten your legs and push your heels to the floor. With your palms pressing into the floor and your fingers spread you can allow your chest to move towards your thighs.

Remind yourself to be kind in your postures. Celebrate what you can do and don’t get caught up in the pursuit of the perfect posture: remember it’s about what is right for you at any given moment in time.

Adho Mukha Svanasana is a great way to get to know your body and find what works best for you. We always suggest that you allow an expert to help and guide your practise, taking into account your physical make up – the length of your long bones, the amount of flexibility at your joints, and the elasticity of your tendons and ligaments.

If you live in easy reach of our hot yoga studio in Bolton, Lancashire, why not join us for a few sessions so we can help you make the most of your genetics?

Please consult your doctor before making changes to your lifestyle such as going on a diet or embarking on an exercise programme.