Nizha Periaswamy

On a sunny day, the temperature in our country can average a whopping 37 degrees Celcius, or more. This usually makes people grumble in discomfort.

Why then, do people give positive feedback when some studios and fitness centres conduct "hot yoga" sessions, with the temperature deliberately set up to 42 degrees Celcius?

What is hot yoga?

Hot yoga was initially known as Bikram Yoga, after its founder Bikram Choudhury. The yoga form, which has since undergone various form of changes, has 26 postures, including 2 pranayama - each of which is performed twice, in a single 90-minute class, with a 42 degrees room temperature.

Hot yoga carries many benefits, including a positive impact on all the body's systems. It also improves one's ability to focus, reduces stress, and improves sleep patterns.

The yoga also improves flexibility, and increases suppleness and strength, besides being one of the favourite methods to lose weight. However, if your body and mind cannot handle the heat, then you might be in trouble. This means the yoga has to be done with precautions and preparations.


Now let's look at the precautions one has to take before a hot yoga session.

- The common belief is drinking water will disrupt the build up of "heat" during a yoga session. However, a few sips is encouraged during a hot yoga session. Students are in fact, recommended to drink one or two cups of water, between 30 minutes and an hour before a session, to keep the practitioner well hydrated.

- Hot yoga is not suitable for all, including pregnant women, children, senior citizens, or those with existing medical conditions. Diabetics and those suffering from low or high blood pressure should also avoid hot yoga so that they don't worsen their conditions.

- Most of the time, hot yoga sessions are conducted vigorously, so avoid eating two hours before, and after your class.

- Lastly, if you feel dizzy, lightheaded, or uncomfortable at any point of a hot yoga session, listen to your body and take a break. Sit in a comfortable position or lie down. Alternatively, get into a child's pose (a kneeling pose used as a resting position in between more difficult poses during a yoga practice). If the condition persists, step out of the room and get some fresh air.

At the end of the day, always listen to your body and make sure your practice is a safe and comfortable one.

Nizha Periaswamy is a yoga instructor and freelance writer.

Photo source: Sakthi School of Yoga