Eagle Pose, the Barometer of My Day

It’s hard to pin down my favourite pose – it varies depending on the day, the emotion, the mood and the music.

But if I had to choose my favourite of the moment, it would be the Eagle Pose. There’s just something about tying yourself in knots that appeals! Eagle Pose, for me, leads to so many different options. However flexible I’m feeling, I can always challenge myself to feel that amazing stretch across the shoulders and enjoy the precarious nature of the balance. It’s a fitness barometer – I can tell what my day has been like from this pose and then I can work to unwind and de-stress if necessary.

Let us know what your favourite pose is by voting here:
What is your favourite standing strength pose?

What To Expect After A Hot Yoga Session

You will notice quite a few things after your first few hot yoga classes, apart from feeling the glow of exercise.

Your heart rate will be higher than normal. Around 72 beats per minute is normal for most folk but, during a hot yoga session, this will climb to about 150 beats per minute to put you in that fat burning zone we mentioned in an earlier post. Your heart is a special type of muscle and, like all muscles, when you exercise them, they grow stronger and more efficient. This is exactly what will happen to your heart.

Straight after class your blood pressure might be slightly elevated. Your muscles have needed more oxygen to work and this has caused an increased blood supply to travel through your arteries and veins. The smooth muscle fibres of the blood vessels walls will have worked hard to ensure you have all the oxygen you need. Again this is a good thing – if you keep coming regularly, you might experience an overall reduction in your blood pressure as your body adapts and grows stronger.

You will feel more flexible. Your tendons and ligaments will have become pliable in the gorgeous heat of our studio and this will increase the range of movement you can get at your joints. Over time, as your muscles strengthen, this is going to really help your health and well-being.

You will notice your posture improve. Our members who have joint problems have reported a reduction in pain and the amount of medication they need and you may find you start to experience the same thing.

Your muscles will be more pliable too. If you’ve not exercised for a while your muscles might feel different as there will be some tiny tears in the muscle fibres. While this might sound shocking, it’s nothing to worry about: this is nature’s way of helping the muscles grow stronger. An increase in lean muscle mass gives lots of important health benefits.

Keep coming to classes and in a few weeks’ time you will most likely notice that clothes fit better as you lose inches. People will start to comment on how well you look. Psychologically this gives most people a lift in mood and a boost in confidence as well as in energy levels.

Most importantly of all, you’ll start to understand why we love hot yoga so much. Find a studio and give it a try – your body will thank you for it!

Ladies feeling the glow after a hot yoga class
Glowing and happy after a class at Bolton Hot Yoga Fitness

As always, please consult your doctor before making changes to your lifestyle such as embarking on a new exercise programme.

Yoga and Pregnancy

Sadly, you will not be able to practice in a hot yoga studio during pregnancy. Studies have shown that overheating can cause problems for the foetus especially in the first few months.

Once you have had your six week check-up after having your baby, and have been medically cleared to come back to hot yoga, a specialist programme will help get you back to your pre-baby weight and fitness levels.

Adele, who teaches at Bolton Hot Yoga is a mum of three and ideally placed to understand the joys and challenges you’re experiencing. She says that hot yoga helped give her time for herself, while increasing her stamina to deal with the demands of her little ones.

So if you’ve recently had a baby, come on down and give our hot yoga sessions a try. Check out our timetable here and book online here. Whether you’re a newbie or an experienced practitioner, we feel sure you’ll love the feeling of well-being hot yoga gives.

Yoga during pregnancy

While you are pregnant, other styles of yoga can be wonderful. A lot of postures help to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, which will be a distinct advantage during and after pregnancy.

We recommend that you consult your yoga teacher as soon as you know you are pregnant. This is because some poses are not recommended during pregnancy and these will change as you move through each trimester. Your teacher should be able to show you ways to modify poses to suit every stage of your pregnancy so that you can get the health benefits associated with yoga without any adverse side effects or discomfort.

For example, postures that raise abdominal pressure should be avoided and forward folds might need to become flat back extensions. A good yoga teacher will advise you and check your technique to make sure both you and your baby are practising safely.

The hormone (relaxin) that works to allow the uterus to grow and expand with your baby also affects your ligaments and tendons, which become more stretched and relaxed. As your baby grows, the bump may get in the way of some postures. You will find that your centre of gravity is affected: a slightly wider base will help with your balance.

Yoga helps you feel connected to your body, and promotes mental relaxation too. The concentration on breath control will also really help, especially in the latter stages of pregnancy.

Whether you’re pregnant, trying for a baby, or getting back in shape after giving birth, we wish you good luck and happiness from all of us here at Bolton Hot Yoga.

As always, please consult your doctor before making changes to your lifestyle such as embarking on a new exercise programme.

Yoga, Energy Systems and the Fat Burning Zone

All movements require energy and, as we mentioned in earlier posts, food provides it. The amount of energy needed and how that energy is released from food depends on the intensity of the movement and its duration – in the simplest terms, what we do and how long we do it for. There are three energy systems and your body switches between them.

While this might sound quite technical, getting to the nitty gritty of what’s going on when your body exercises will help you make informed choices about weight management.

Aerobic Energy System

Marathon runners who are moving at a steady pace for several hours will use their aerobic system to produce large amounts of energy. They learn to breath efficiently, taking in plenty of oxygen which combines with glycogen and fatty acids to forge a long-term energy system that will last for ages. Once the glycogen stores in muscles are used up, the body will switch to burning fat. Marathon runners tend to be very lean.

Anaerobic Energy System

If the exercise is more intense, your body needs to produce energy quickly, so it turns to the anaerobic system which uses glycogen stored in your muscles and liver. Your body can’t wait for oxygen to arrive, so it cracks on without it, but in doing so creates a waste product called lactic acid. If you’ve ever felt an intense, burning sensation in your muscles during exercise, this is caused by lactic acid building up. Eventually, if you keep working as intensely, your muscles will tire.

Creatinine Phosphate Energy System

Unless you’ve studied sports science, you’ve probably not heard of this energy system. It also releases energy without oxygen and fuels our bodies in the moments when they start or make sudden, explosive movements. Sprinters call this energy into play when they drive off the blocks.

Although the creatinine phosphate energy system releases power that will only last a matter of seconds, that’s long enough to make sure you have an immediate source of energy.

Energy Systems in Yoga

In our style of hot yoga – which combines flowing and dynamic movements with intense poses held for what can feel like ages – you will naturally move through these energy systems. All three will be used in varying amounts, depending on the intensity level.

The fantastic news is you will quickly use up the glycogen stored in your muscles and move into burning fat for energy. You’ll spend the main part of the class in that fat burning zone.

This is where the idea of informed choices kicks in. If you’re trying to gain muscle mass, you’ll want to take in extra food afterwards to replace the stores lost.

If you’d like to lose some weight, the good news is that your hot yoga session has increased your body’s need for food during the day. Combined with a calorie restriction plan – whatever type works for you – this means you’ll start to see results more quickly.

We plan to write more about diet and nutrition in a future post. Please consult your doctor before embarking on a new diet or exercise regime. If you’re interested in finding out more about hot yoga, check out our post – How To Find The Perfect Hot Yoga Class.

dave-contreras-190480-unsplash

 

 

 

Yoga for that Summer Body

“Will I get abs?”

We often get asked this question and the simple answer is yes. Everyone has abdominal muscles, but often we hide them behind those-things-we-eat-but-know-we-shouldn’t-have!

If you’re curious about yoga, you’ll most likely have heard it strengthens your core, but may not have understood what this means. Your core is made up of eight muscles that work together to stabilise and control the force we produce in all our everyday movements.

People tend to try and train the superficial muscles (or abs, often mistakenly called a six pack) whilst forgetting about the deeper core muscles that hold everything together.

That’s where our style of yoga helps. By popular request at Bolton Hot Yoga we often have several tracks that concentrate on developing these deep core muscles alongside a balancing track to work the back muscles that are so important for core strength.

Too far away to come and feel the burn with us? We recommend that you look out for a local hot yoga studio as expert guidance really helps, but at a pinch, you could always put on your favourite piece of music, push back the furniture and try these at home. You could soon be well on your way to that summer beach body!

Clockwise, from the top left: nose to knee pose; bridge pose; side plank; plank; intense pose; chaturanga dandasana.

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

Want to Lose Weight but not Sure Where to Start?

Thinking about a lifestyle change? Want to lose weight but not sure where to start? Been on unsuccessful diets before that didn’t work? These are a few of our top tips:

  • Think about what to eat and when to eat it

Plan your meals in advance. Have the right things in your fridge and store cupboard, remove the temptations and the habit calories – 3 biscuits with a hot drink when you get in from work. If you prepare you stand a better chance of being successful. Plan your snacks and have them there ready, so when the adverts come on you reach for an ounce of almonds or some carrot sticks and a healthy dip instead of the supersize bag of sharing crisps that isn’t actually designed for you to share! Think about some healthy swops, something you can take to work for your mid-morning snack to avoid temptation when your blood sugar levels start to plummet and someone at work has brought celebratory cakes in.

  • Think about increasing your activity levels

Find something you love doing. Obviously for us that is hot yoga but for you it might be walking to work when the weather is glorious. Taking the dog that little bit further on your nightly walk. Planning a bike ride at the weekend with the kids instead of the trip to the cinema with the giant popcorn bucket and the fizzy drinks. If it is a walk in the park at weekend you are on a double bonus. Weight bearing exercise increases bone strength and even better, exercise in sunlight helps to synthesise that much needed vitamin D for healthy bones, teeth and muscles. Vitamin D is essential in the absorption of calcium and phosphate. Without these our bones can become soft and weak and leave us at risk of things like osteoporosis. Fresh air, exercise and keeping hydrated with water instead of fizzy pop or sugary hot drinks will make a massive difference physically and mentally.

  • Think about your sleep pattern

Now this might sound extremely strange to you but getting enough quality sleep plays a massive part in weight loss. Firstly, if you have a restless, interrupted night’s sleep just try and be aware of how you feel and what you do the next day. Studies have shown that people who haven’t had enough sleep spend the next feeling shattered and hungry. When monitored closely they tend to eat more, make poor food choices and emotionally eat more calories than people who have had a full, restful night’s sleep.

Why is this?

Well it’s all down to a hormone that you may or may not have heard about called ghrelin. This bad boy helps regulates your appetite. It sends messages to your brain when it thinks you need to eat, when you should stop burning calories and when you should store your energy – unfortunately as fat cells! When you sleep you don’t use a lot of energy, so you have low levels of this hunger hormone. People who don’t sleep well end up with too much of this hormone floating round their system telling their brain to take in some calories. In addition, sleepless and restless nights lead to high levels of stress hormones and also to resistance to insulin. Insulin is produced naturally in the body for most people and is the key that unlocks to cells to let the glucose in. One of the ways to increase insulin sensitivity and to promote great sleep quality is to exercise and for us that’s just got to be hot yoga!

dave-contreras-190480-unsplash

 

 

How to Recover After a Hot Yoga Class

Despite the blog title, expect to feel amazing after a hot yoga session: our class members often tell us how fantastic they feel. If you’re a fan of hot yoga, you’ll know exactly what we mean, but it’s not an easy sensation to explain to those who have never experienced it. Try to imagine a sense of achievement, the joy of being in tune with your body, the buzz of having taken part in a great session, and a feeling of relaxation, all mixed together.

But there’s still work to be done. Your main priority afterwards will be to rehydrate. Hot yoga classes can be 36 degrees or more, with up to 80% humidity. Some people claim you can detox through hot yoga, but in fact your body has extremely sophisticated ways of dealing with toxins. They are processed mainly by the liver or the kidneys rather than being lost through sweat.

Your body, like you, is unique and the amount of electrolytes lost during a class varies from person to person. Electrolytes are the salts in your blood. Sweat tastes salty because of the sodium and chloride lost in it. You also lose low concentrations of potassium, magnesium and calcium. Ideally, these electrolytes will be swiftly replaced through your normal diet. We’ll share tips on eating well in another post. For example, a handful of heart-healthy almonds will provide magnesium, calcium and other nutrients such as vitamin E.

What’s certain is that everyone will need to rehydrate as quickly as possible. Some class members, including Adele, our instructor, rehydrate with coconut water, a natural source of electrolytes with a neutral pH. There are a number of coconut waters on the market, with varying sugar contents. Some are extremely high in sugar which means that, along with that great taste, you’ll get a high calorie count so might want to limit how much you drink. You’ll be tired of hearing this, but always check the label, especially for anything you’re likely to consume regularly.

If you’re thinking about trying coconut water too, or want to see how the brand you prefer compares to others, check out these coconut water reviews.

You’re always welcome to bring your favourite drink along to your hot yoga session for some expert advice. One of the sports scientists in our class advises that just drinking plenty of water will be sufficient to replace the electrolytes you have lost during the class.

It’s fairly obvious that you will need to shower after a hot yoga session, and change out of your yoga kit, but also spare a thought for your yoga mat. It will also need to recover and dry out, so try to avoid keeping it rolled up in a bag. Follow the manufacturer’s advice for keeping it in great condition, ready for your next class.

During a hot yoga session, tie your hair back if it’s long enough to get in your way. We suggest you come to the class without make up – mascara halfway down your face is not a great look, not that we would bother! The good news is that the warmth of the room will naturally open your skin’s pores, so after the class is a great time to quickly cleanse and moisturise. This applies to men, just as much as women. You will not believe how great your skin will start to feel: that healthy glow of exercise tends to pay dividends for your complexion.

Some of the beauties of our classes are the tips and advice we get from each other. At Bolton Hot Yoga, our members come from different professions and walks of life and are happy to help and advise if required. For example, another of our members, an amazing hairdresser and colour specialist, reminds us that the heat can dry out some people’s hair. Use a good conditioner as part of your recovery routine if that applies to you.

After a class, you will be experiencing the afterglow of a job well done. Your body releases chemicals called endorphins during exercise and these natural, mood enhancing chemicals will help you feel amazing. They are one of the reasons yoga is so good for alleviating stress and anxiety, a topic we will cover in greater detail later on.

applying-body-body-lotion-286951

 

 

Hot Yoga Can Set Your Metabolism on Fire

What is your metabolism and why is it important?

Your metabolism is the body’s way of converting the food and drink you consume into energy your body can use to move, maintain itself, grow healthy hair, skin, bones and teeth, or repair itself. Simply put, the higher your metabolic rate, the more food and drink you can eat without gaining weight.

Even when you are peacefully resting on a comfortable bed, or sleeping, your body is using energy. Experts call this your basal metabolic rate.

The amount of energy you need to do ‘nothing’ is dependent on a number of factors such as your age, your height, weight and gender. The composition of your body (the percentage of lean muscle mass compared to body fat) affects your metabolic rate too: the more lean muscle mass you have, the more energy you need to sustain it, so the higher your basal metabolic rate will be. In general, men tend to have more muscle mass than women.

You’ll perhaps have heard people saying that they gain weight easily because they have a sluggish metabolism. So can hot yoga set your metabolism on fire, or is it a total myth?

The final part of the calories in > calories expended equation is exercise. Physical activity of any form, hot yoga included, bumps up your body’s need for calories. The more active you are, the more energy you’ll use. The less you do, the less energy you need. This can create a vicious circle, where a lack of basic fitness causes you to feel less able or inclined to get out and do things.

It’s important to break this cycle, because physical activity levels are the most influential factor in determining how many calories you use each day. Don’t move enough, consume more calories than you need and your body will have to store the energy somewhere. Move more and your body will call upon those energy reserves and use them.

Use more calories than you take in and you will lose weight; take in too many calories and they will be stored, usually just where you don’t want them to be stored!

In your heart of hearts, you know how hard you’ve worked. You know when you’ve had an inactive day: you don’t need a Fitbit to tell you. Physical activity is the one thing you can control. Upping your exercise regime can help you lose weight, even if your food intake remains the same.

And this is where we can help. Come to us and we can help motivate and inspire you to up those activity levels. Our classes will help build that lean muscle mass that will raise your basal metabolic rate – remember, this affects the energy you need even when resting.

There is no magic to it. It doesn’t need to be a process of denial, counting every calorie and going without the things you like to eat. You’ll notice the difference quite quickly – our class members say they get a much improved quality of sleep after classes. We’ve recently been hearing more and more scientists saying that we need a good 8-9 hours of sleep for our bodies to be at their best.

Class members also notice and comment on the difference in their balance, coordination and ability to carry out every day movements and activities. So, yes, we believe it’s true. Adding hot yoga to your lifestyle really will make a difference and help set your metabolism on fire.

To find out more, visit our home page here

Ocean view