Yoga for your Heart Health

Not only is the exercise good for mind, and uplifting to the soul, it’s also extremely beneficial to the body.

Your heart has a demanding job to do, physically: to keep working tirelessly to supply your working muscles with oxygen and nutrients by keeping a steady supply of blood circulating round the body. How does it do that? Well, the heart is made up of a special type of muscle called cardiac muscle: an involuntary muscle that keeps working without you having to tell it to, unlike your skeletal muscles.

The cardiac muscle is supplied with oxygen and nutrients by the coronary arteries, and the blood vessels are surrounded by smooth muscle fibres of varying thicknesses.

The left side of your heart deals with oxygen rich blood, while the right side of your heart deals with deoxygenated blood, sending it back to the lungs to pick up more supplies.

During a yoga session your heart will need to supply the muscles with enough oxygen to allow you to work. The intensity of your workout determines how hard the heart needs to work to supply much-needed oxygen and nutrients. Just like all muscles, as you work them, they get more efficient and more able to perform their job effectively.

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.

Dolphin jumping.jpg

If you’d like to get a better understanding of our philosophy of yoga, check out some of our most popular posts.

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.

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.