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. 

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. 

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!

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