What I Learned from Practicing Hot Yoga for Ten Years

Red thermometer against yellow background
The most beneficial part isn't flexibility and strength, but right after class where I allow my body to relax, my breath to go deep, and my mind to calm.

Hot yoga is a great way to stay centered and in control of your inner world. The heat and humidity allow you to stretch further than in a regular yoga class. Practicing mindfulness while moving through poses can help you find stillness, even when your heart is racing. If you’re looking for an invigorating workout that will leave you feeling calm and insightful, hot yoga might be just what you need. 

 

I’ve been practicing Bikram yoga since 2010. The practice has become a part of my life. It not only improves my strength, flexibility, and balance, but also helps me stay grounded and focused on the essential things in life.

 

What Is Hot Yoga (Bikram Yoga)?

 

For those unfamiliar with Bikram Yoga, it’s a 90-minute-yoga practice in a room heated to 105°F (41°C) with 40% humidity. It consists of 26 poses and two breathing exercises. Yes, you’ll sweat, a lot.

 

Healthline gives a wonderful overview of its mental and physical benefits, ranging from stress reduction to cardiovascular boost, bone density improvement, and skin rejuvenation.

 

What I Learned from Stopping Hot Yoga Practice?

 

When my long-time yoga studio closed during 2020 (COVID restrictions), I quickly realized how impatient I’d become, often tired and distracted. I missed the practice very much. Doing yoga from YouTube videos just didn’t give me the same results I’d been accustomed to. I wasn’t able to stretch as deep as I could in a heated room.

 

Later, a horse accident kept me off work for over a year. During those long months of inactivity, I dreamed of returning to the hot yoga studio. It was the goal of recovery I told my team of physical therapists.

woman meditating
by PIKSEL

What Do You Feel When First Begin Hot Yoga Practice?

 

It wasn’t until early 2022 that I eased back into my old workout routine. First, re-acclimate to the heat and humidity, then the soreness from doing all the poses.

 

Because of my injuries, I feared hurting myself during practice. The fear made my body extra stiff and resistant to stretches. I only practiced three times a week at the time, allowing ample time in between workouts.

 

After a few weeks, I noticed I was constantly holding my breath during challenging poses. The lack of oxygen made me feel tired even faster than expected. Instead of emphasizing going deep into poses, I focused on breathing fully and deeply, which in turn brought me a sense of ease and control. Once I turned still in mind, my body became more flexible. It felt like I was in a flow state, where my body did the poses on its own.

 

Gradually, I increased the frequency of my practice to five days a week. Some dedicated yogis practice every day and feel great. I find it difficult to achieve my electrolyte balance without breaks.

 

The Most Beneficial Part of Hot Yoga Practice

 

After all these years of yoga practice, I’ve come to realize that the most beneficial part isn’t stretching my body in a hot room, but meditating for fifteen minutes after class, where I allow my body to relax, my breath to go deep, and my mind to calm.

 

It’s in those precious moments that I have flashes of insight into what is blocking my path to new goals, how to resolve difficult situations, and when to let go of things that no longer serve me.

 

Many fellow yogis rush out of the hot room immediately after class, craving the cool, fresh air outside. Some people stay behind and chat about the news, their days, or the weather. They leave behind their hard-earned reward after all the effort they’ve put in.

 

As one of my yoga teachers so aptly put it, what is the point of robbing a bank if you don’t get away with the money?

 

The focus of a hot yoga practice isn’t just about the body. It’s about using your body to recalibrate your mind. Even if the outside world turns upside down, you have your inner world under control.

 

You’re the anchor of your life.

 

Want to give hot yoga a try? Sign up for a trial month (many yoga studios offer an introductory price) and discover if it’s right for you!

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Dr. Ivy Ge

Dr. Ivy Ge

Doctor of Pharmacy, author of The Art of Good Enough. She writes to inspire women to design their own fate. Her writings and interviews have been featured on MSNBC, Thrive Global, Working Mother magazine, Parentology, and The Times of India.

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