The use of heat during a Yoga class has come up for much debate recently and you either love it or really really dislike it. So lets have a look at what all the fuss is about and hopefully we can dispel a few myths along the way.
First of all lets look the reasons why we use heat.
To Stretch More: NOPE!
Yes the heat will improve flexibility but this isn’t a primary reason for its use at Yoga Life. Yoga is not stretching and being super supple doesn’t mean you are practicing Yoga. The postures are just an element of Yoga and while being able to challenge yourself to deepen each posture can be transformational simply touching your toes because its hot isn’t.
To Sweat Out Toxins: NOPE!
When you sweat you lose water not toxins. Yes the heat does help the body enhance its methods to detox but its not through the skin. The detox is due to a combination of the physical Asanas (postures twisting, bending and extending the body) with the heat and breathing techniques that will stimulate your organs to cleanse from the inside. Liver and kidney function increase, circulation improves and basically all the bad stuff is processed and “dealt with” by all the good stuff.
OK so lets get to the reason we use heat in some of our classes at Yoga Life. We use a very specific heat & humidity to enhance the benefits and the lessons you can take from the Asana (posture) practice. One of the reasons for practicing postures is to challenge you physically and mentally. When your body is under stress the brain gets to work in dealing with it and a chain reaction is set in motion.
The amygdala part of the brain is stimulated which turnsimage on the hypothalamus which communicates with the adrenal gland and it secrets hormones such as cortisol & norepinephrine that then trigger the sympathetic nervous system to kick in. In small amounts this is a good thing. Our nervous system is ignited and our senses become more focused. If you can remember that feeling just before you are about to run on sports day at school or before your last job interview well, thats this process in action. Yoga is to take you to a place of challenge NOT overwhelming stress! In that moment of challenge Yoga teaches you the tools to manage and control that stress so that rather than break us down or consume us we become stronger. With the use of pranayama (breathing techniques) or meditations we can teach you to actively take control of that nervous systems response and stabilise it so that you can continue.
This can then be transported into your everyday life. No matter what the stress is, your body deals with it in the same chemical way. So learning to manage the stress in a Yoga class WILL give you the tools to manage stress when the bills come in or work gets too much or the kids just won’t behave. Yoga will teach you that you don’t need to be consumed by stress and that you can become stronger for it.
Its with this in mind that we use heat at Yoga Life. Its important that we don’t wrongly think stressing the body to the point of breaking is a good thing or a valuable lesson because its not. The heat needs to be kept at a very specific level and its for this reason we don’t let the studio go anywhere near the 40* heat thats become so popular in the west. Heat should be a subtle enhancement of the lessons the Asanas (postures) gift us all during a class. The heat is not centre stage the Yoga is.
Answering The Critics
The best thing about Yoga is that it covers such a spectrum of ideas and philosophies which can mean all different manner of things to all people. The way each individual interpret these teachings becomes a very personal experience and so in my mind there is not definitive practice or ideology.
With this post I hope those who appose the heat can understand a little more of our reasoning and why its not modern and doesn’t fall away from tradition or Yogas core values.
For me Yoga has the core value to help improve your life in all aspects. The true gift of Yoga is to delve deeper into YOU and through the practice blossom into the best version of yourself. The heat like the Asanas, like the focus of mind is another element to challenge us and in that challenge unlock something deep within you that maybe didn’t access before.
The New Studio
If the studio has been built with healing in mind then it will be far more than a cauldron of scorching heat. It will be balanced with fresh air in, extraction of used air, added pure oxygen, humidity and a temperature that challenges and doesn’t overwhelm.
Yoga Life Upgrade Heat & Humidity
An improved state of the art technology system to program specific Heat & Humidity that can be targeted to specific classes. We use heat & humidity to challenge and improve the detox process while also to support deep breathing. Each individual class will have a specific heat & humidity to enhance the nature of that practice.
Look out for the workshops when we re open at the end of next week!
Love & Light