What is is that leaves us feeling like we could jump for joy after a hot yoga session? Is it something about out style of hot yoga or do all people who practice hot yoga feel the same?
It could be the release of those feel good hormones endorphins that interact with our brains, lifting the way we feel. Endorphins not only help reduce our perception of pain but also give an energy boost which can leave us feeling really positive, enjoying a natural buzz from our exertions.
If you prefer to think it is something more than the chemical reactions going on inside our bodies, you could attribute it to the social, welcoming atmosphere found in many, friendly hot yoga studios across the UK and around the world. Yoga practitioners tend to be positive people, ready to help, support and celebrate their achievements together.
Some people tell us that the relaxation phase of yoga sessions give them deep feelings of happiness, related to an emotional release. Precious time spent listening to our bodies, just letting go, concentrating on the here and now, and feeling grateful for what we have and what we can do.
No matter what it is, and whether we can truly analyse the root causes or not, this post is a celebration of the joy hot yoga can bring. If you feel it too, please let us know!
Hot yoga helps your body’s muscles become stronger and more flexible. The food you eat will support (or hinder) the process. In this series of posts, we’ll suggest ways to naturally increase the resources available to your body through simple but effective changes to your diet.
Carbohydrates come in two forms, simple and complex. These classifications relate to how quickly the body can absorb them and make them available to use as energy. Simple carbohydrates are absorbed quickly and cause a spike in your blood sugar. Complex carbohydrates take a bit more effort to break down and take more time to digest and absorb.
Carbohydrates contain about 4kcal of energy per gram. There are three different types of carbohydrate:
- Sugar is naturally found in some foods like fruit, honey, fruit juices and milk. Increasingly, it is also added to our food in the form of table sugar and additives like lactose and maltose added to foods to make them sweeter. These raise your blood sugar quickly, leading to spikes followed by troughs.
- Starch consists of sugars bonded together in long chains which means they take longer to break down and digest. These give us a slow release of energy throughout the day and can be found in foods that come from plants like bread, rice, pasta, vegetables, potatoes.
- Fibre is found in foods that come from plants. Fibre slows the process of food through your digestive system allowing your body time to absorb all the goodness in your food, adding bulk and keeping your digestive tract healthy. Good sources of fibre include vegetables, whole grain bread, whole wheat pasta and pulses like beans and lentils.
It is a myth that carbohydrates are bad for us – our bodies need fuel and fibre to remain healthy. However, it’s wise to think carefully about the type, quality and quantity of the carbohydrates you choose and try to limit the amount of simple carbohydrates like sugar or things that have been heavily processed like cakes and sweets. Instead try to include more starchy carbohydrates like vegetables and whole grain products that have not been heavily processed to remove the goodness from them.
As in anything it is important to get the balance right. Consume more calories than you need and you will gain weight. By replacing high sugar foods and drinks with high fibre, starchy food you’ll get the balance right. You’ll feel fuller for longer and avoid the sugar spikes that can sap your energy and sabotage your eating plans.
An increasing number of people with diabetes are turning to yoga in an effort to keep their condition under control and improve their overall quality of life.
So what is diabetes? Diabetes is caused when either the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin or the cells in your body become resistant to insulin. Insulin does the important role of regulating the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood, making sure there is not too much or too little. Insulin acts like a key to unlock cells and allow glucose in so it can be stored until it is needed.
Today’s lifestyles mean that more and more people are at risk of becoming diabetic at some point in their lives unless they take action by changing their lifestyles.
Around 90% of diabetic people have type 2 diabetes. There is a growing body of research which says exercise and changes to diet can significantly improve and even reverse the effects of this type of diabetes. Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson is one of several public figures who have recently claimed they have managed to reverse the effects of type 2 diabetes through weight loss, exercise and diet.
If you’re trying to avoid becoming diabetic, or need to find a way to manage type 2 diabetes, hot yoga is a great way to exercise, increase your insulin sensitivity and help to stabilise your blood sugars whilst you work. Always listen to your body and to your health care professionals who will advise you about the best way to manage your health condition.
10% of diabetics have type 1 diabetes which is controlled through insulin injections. We’ll write about this in a later post as there are some important things to think about in relation to type 1 diabetes and hot yoga.
“To find inner bliss and happiness through yoga, learn to accept things as they are by changing your thoughts.”
– Debasish Mridha
The hot yoga studio is my happy place: it’s there I can challenge myself to be happy with who I am and what I can do.
There, I can share my achievements with others who celebrate with me, rather than compete against me.
It’s there I feel grateful for what I can do physically, and there I feel humble for the emotional support I get from the people around me.
It is the place where I’ve learned to accept my limitations and appreciate my abilities.
Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? In your first few classes, the heat may not seem like the blessing it is. Before long, you’ll find yourself loving the heat and enjoying (perhaps even craving) its effects on the body.
All forms of yoga emphasise mind and body working smoothly together. Hot Yoga is self-paced, so we are always in control, learning to sense when we can push and when we should rest. As you maintain the hold in a challenging position you never imagined you’d do, you’ll feel how much stronger and better balanced your body has become.
In our demanding world where energy is a precious resource, it’s good to be able to recharge. The less we do, the less we feel like doing. It’s so easy to fall into bad habits with the best intentions. Exercise turns this negative cycle on its head because the more energy we expend through exercise, the more our bodies can do over time.
Many people think of yoga as a solitary, serious exercise, but in a class, it’s far from that. An inspirational teacher passes her energy and enthusiasm on to students, and in turn, they help boost each other.
After a good hot yoga session, you’ll feel the same buzz of collective achievement you experience with team sports. Ever watched the winning football team at the end of the Champions League final jumping up and down together holding the cup? Expect that kind of feeling – not so intense, of course, but every time – you’re never on the losing team with yoga.
“Yoga is invigoration in relaxation. Freedom in routine. Confidence through self-control. Energy within and energy without.”
– Ymber Delecto
At first reading, parts of this favourite quote seem paradoxical. When you have a busy life, it may seem difficult to take time out, even for an activity you really love, such as yoga. Investing time in your physical and mental health pays dividends in the long run. A hot yoga session will reinvigorate mind, body and soul, allowing you to get back to your day with renewed spirit.
Often we see people coming to class on their way home from work or after a busy day with their energy depleted, mentally balancing a list of jobs still to be done. It gives us a real buzz to see the same people leaving our studio after their session with happy faces and a new-found energy.
Like pressing a reset button, we firmly believe that yoga really can help give the people who take time out to practice it more zest for life. Their yoga mat becomes a sanctuary: a space where they can abandon the pressures of everyday life and concentrate on the here and now.
“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.
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 the hot yoga studio and busy, clouded minds find peace and stillness in the relaxation.