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, give hot yoga sessions a try. 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.

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.

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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!

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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 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. 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.

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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

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Journey to Savasana

How hard is it to liberate your mind at the end of a hot yoga class when this has been the first moment you’ve had to yourself all week? Step away too quickly and your shopping list, what to cook for tea, how to entertain the kids on a wet weekend will all fly through your mind at the speed of light.

However much you try to unwind and refocus your breathing and centre yourself, you just can’t help it, can you – or can you? Is there a trick to carrying the relaxation you feel through to the rest of your life, or is it time to head for the showers?

Relaxation is a key part of the class. As the session draws to a close, it’s your opportunity to celebrate all your hard work and invest a few minutes to kick-start the recovery process.

This is where your body grows stronger and the benefits of your yoga session start to materialise. At Bolton Hot Yoga, we revitalise and reflect at the end of each class with a guided meditation. It doesn’t take long, it’s set to some great music and it’s designed to just give you enough time to cool down and recover.

Learning to focus on your breathing, to scan your body and check your posture all help you stay healthy. There is a traditional name for this part of the session – Savasana – often associated with adopting a relaxed posture, lying flat on your back. You’ll get yourself comfy in whatever position you find best – it may be sitting or in pose of the child – you choose. We’ll dim the lights, help you slow your breathing and allow you to finish off a great class in a quiet state of mind.

As with anything, the more you practise, the better at meditation you’ll get. As you feel those muscular tensions easing away from your body and find out how to free your mind, you will become calmer, more in the moment, and able to be more present in your daily life.

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Yoga for Cyclists

If you love cycling, you’ll be familiar with the feel-good factor exercise creates: hot yoga takes this to another level.

Cyclists use some muscles much more than others. Ideally, the ones used most become extremely strong and efficient. Our bodies have an amazing ability to adapt to the demands placed on them by training, but cycling for long periods can put our bodies at risk. Core muscles aren’t engaged equally well on long rides when we spend hours in the saddle, hunched over handlebars in an unnatural position. Hamstrings become tight. Hip flexors and glutes don’t fire as efficiently. These can all generate problems with our posture, leaving us prone to injury.

That’s why most cyclists will benefit from the corrective powers of yoga sessions. Hot yoga does not only help with injury prevention but has other important benefits too.

Whatever your distance or training goal, you’ll achieve it so much more quickly if you invest part of your training time in yoga. Imagine how much more efficiently you will be able to cycle with a strong core, flexible spine, with your muscles perfectly balanced and firing effectively. Yoga can help you become much more aerodynamic on the bike. You’ll transfer power more efficiently from your legs to the pedals, control your breathing and maximise your heart rate. Last but not least, a calm, focused mind is much better placed to make the fast paced decisions needed on our roads to stay safe.

In our studio, we enjoy working with a great mix of people. Our style challenges you to achieve your best, whatever your level of fitness. Where else will you find endurance athletes, cyclists and triathletes training for performance alongside beginners? The great thing about hot yoga is that each person will be able to find what they are looking for by adapting the movements to suit their needs.

So whatever your aims, whether that’s being first in your age category at a national sprint triathalon, cycling for charity in the Manchester sunshine with Cycling for The Christie, or just getting to and from your destination, please consider adding yoga in to your fitness routine.

To find out more, visit our home page or feel free to get in touch if you have any specific questions.

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