Hot yoga, or “Bikram” yoga hit the mainstream with vigor and enthusiasm, and with more and more people signing up to classes and partaking in hot yoga, medical professionals, and even yoga providers are issuing some stern warnings that the act of Bikram yoga could potentially be a dangerous activity if not done properly, effectively and under the strict supervision of someone very much in the know.
It’s trendy, but is it safe? Everyday thousands upon thousands of eager people sign up for hot yoga classes with high hopes of losing unwanted pounds, or relaxing, or allowing for the potential of better mobility or even to gain strength. But medical professionals are becoming increasingly concerned that as people bend themselves into odd contortions at such intense and high levels of heat, the activity could quickly turn dangerous.
The main point of contention with hot yoga that is making medical and fitness professionals start to take notice is the idea that at a high level of heat many different things begin to happen to the body that could lead to injury or other issues. For one thing, heat increases the metabolic rate of the participating individual, letting your body stretch itself in ways that wouldn’t be as likely or possible when the muscles aren’t “warmed up” to those levels of intense heat.
In fact, research shows that once you stretch a muscle past a certain point (about 20% of its resting point) you run a high risk of damage to the muscle, which can cause tears and stretches resulting in high levels of pain after the workout is completed and the muscle cools off again.
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Most of the damage and injuries that occur as a result of hot yoga happen because of bent muscles in the lower back and knees of those who take part, and both sets of injuries can have a long and painful recovery process. Healthcare practitioners are fitness experts say that muscles are not meant to bend to that degree, for that long, or at such high levels of artificial heat. Doctors are now warning that people get properly informed of the risks and dangers associated with hot yoga before signing up to their next class, or at the very least, start slow, be aware of your level of expertise, and stretch only to a point where you begin to feel resistance, keeping in mind it should never be uncomfortable to push yourself.
Another issue that has health professionals concerned, is the fact that a lot of times, hot yoga, and fitness of this nature tends to happen at such high degrees of heat for such an extended period of time that the body becomes dehydrated. Something that might seem obvious, but many don’t consider as they are too preoccupied with the work out – cool down process, that they forget to properly hydrate before, during, or after the hot yoga workout.
Knowing your bodies limitations and staying as hydrated as possible during the hot yoga workout is of key importance. Knowing your skill level, and paying attention to any signal that your body is resisting the workout or any of the poses becomes the difference between comfortable and pleasant experience in while working out, and having a painful and long muscle recovery after the fact.