The real essence of a yoga session often lies in the journey beyond comfort zones – extending a little further, maintaining a pose a little longer, taking a slightly deeper breath. Visualize this journey unfolding in an environment that magnifies your exploration of limits. Step into the world of hot yoga saunas, a transformative space where the gentle, enveloping warmth not only soothes the mind but also loosens the muscles.
This heat-enhanced flexibility allows for deeper stretches, ensuring that each yoga pose yields maximum benefit. As the boundaries of your physical capabilities extend, you experience a profound connection with your body, crafting a wellness narrative that is uniquely yours.
The fascinating thing is that the benefits of yoga are very similar to sauna benefits we’ve known about for years.
Is Hot Yoga Better Than Regular Yoga?
According to Dr. Susanna Soeberg, research suggests hot yoga may have a slight edge over regular yoga. One study showed that hot yoga can give your heart a better workout, improving cardiovascular health. Participants also reported improved mood.
Interestingly, the study found that hot yoga led to a significant increase in Heat Shock Protein 70 (HSP70), protein that help repair cell damage, which is important for overall health and longevity. However, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a hormone that boosts memory and strengthens brain-muscle connections, increased in both yoga types, suggesting it’s more related to exercise than heat.
While this study gives us some fascinating insights, it’s worth remembering that it’s only one piece of the puzzle. More studies would help confirm these findings.
Hot Yoga Benefit #1: Better Mood
Dr. Susanna Soeberg sheds light on the connection between hot yoga and depression, suggesting that practicing yoga under heated conditions might help lessen depressive symptoms. In a meta-analysis, a comprehensive literature review, researchers found it challenging to draw definitive conclusions due to the variability in measurements and interventions used across different studies. This disparity led to a suggestion that hot yoga might not significantly affect acute, chronic, or treatment-resistant mood and anxiety disorders when compared with standard pharmaceutical treatments or active control groups. According to Dr. Soeberg, this could result from poorly designed studies.
However, she notes that when hot yoga was compared with psychoeducation, a type of therapy, it showed more substantial reductions in depression. Referring to a randomized controlled trial, Dr. Soeberg indicates that a four-week regimen of 12 hot yoga sessions appeared to enhance mood compared to a control group. This suggests a potential therapeutic role of heat. Still, she cautions that more high-quality research is needed, with better alignment of protocols and depression measurements, to provide a clearer picture.
She is interested in seeing a study involving individuals with clinically diagnosed depression to understand if they could reap any benefits from hot yoga. As she points out, stress and depression are closely interlinked, opening another area of potential investigation.
Hot Yoga Benefit #2: A Healthy Heart
Hot yoga also presents significant cardiovascular benefits, particularly in endothelial function. To clarify, healthy endothelial function is pivotal for maintaining optimal blood flow, regulating blood clotting, ensuring an appropriate immune response, and preserving the balance of electrolytes and the normal contraction and dilation of blood vessels. Cardiovascular health is bolstered over time as the heat necessitates the heart to pump blood more vigorously to reach the muscles. The increased perspiration during hot yoga also enhances blood circulation, contributing to overall cardiovascular wellness.
Hot Yoga Benefit #3: Reduced Stress
The practice of yoga, particularly hot yoga, is widely recognized for alleviating stress. The heated environment promotes relaxation and assists in diminishing stress levels. Moreover, the physical engagement involved in yoga aids in releasing bodily tension, inducing a sense of calm and relaxation.
Hot yoga demonstrated significant benefits in a 16-week randomized study involving sedentary adults under stress. The findings revealed notable improvements in perceived stress levels, general self-efficacy, and health-related quality of life, further supporting the efficacy of hot yoga for stress relief and overall quality of life enhancement.
Distinguishing Hot Yoga, Bikram Yoga, and Sauna Yoga
While often used interchangeably, the temperatures, humidity, and practice can be very different between “hot yoga,” “Bikram yoga,” and “sauna yoga.”
Of the three, only one has a clear definition. Bikram yoga, introduced by Bikram Choudhury before being exposed as a terrible human, involves a 90-minute session in a room heated to 105°F (41°C) with 40 percent humidity. A fixed sequence of 26 poses and two specific breathing exercises define this particular yoga practice.
Hot yoga, such as CorePower Yoga, is a comparatively recent trend that introduces a different twist (and without the baggage) and is a bit more flexible. Here, yoga is conducted in a room heated above regular room temperature, typically from 80 to 100°F (27 and 38°C). Hot yoga sessions can encompass various poses, with the duration of each class varying across studios. This form of yoga often has a more interactive and vibrant atmosphere, frequently paired with music.
The temperature and humidity levels in both Hot Yoga and Bikram yoga are more closely related to a Hammam than a sauna. The lower temperature (as compared to a sauna yoga) is ideal for longer sessions.
Sauna yoga, a recent trend, often uses home saunas and larger gym and hotel saunas for short yoga sessions in hotter, more extreme environments. Working out in the sauna is done by professional athletes looking for an edge and should be done carefully with extreme caution. Check with a doctor before doing yoga in a sauna, and always do it with a partner nearby.
With temperatures soaring to 140 and 180°F, this practice features a low-humidity environment that tests your endurance. Sauna yoga typically consists of slow movements and deep stretches, harmonizing with the extreme heat to enhance flexibility and relaxation. These sessions often occur in traditional saunas, with benches removed for ample space, or in an adjacent room with open doors to allow heat flow.
Regrettably, Bikram Yoga has experienced a drop in followers due to assault allegations against its founder. Consequently, many studios may use “hot yoga” instead of “Bikram yoga” to describe their heated classes. And with the advent of sauna yoga, the landscape of heat-intensified yoga practices has further broadened. Therefore, as you explore yoga in heated environments, it is crucial to examine class descriptions carefully to ensure they align with your personal goals and comfort level.
If you want to turn up the heat, you’ll probably need a home sauna as very few public yoga studios reach adequate sauna temperatures. Check out SaunaShare.com for sauna yoga locations and events to see if sauna yoga is right for you.
The Space Factor: Importance of Sauna Dimensions in Hot Yoga
Space plays a significant role in any Yoga space, and it is particularly important for safety and performance in hot yoga studio or home sauna that doubles as one. Saunas are typically optimized to maximize high benches and great cost to floor space. This makes yoga difficult and impossible in many ‘highly optimized’ saunas.
Heat rises and settles, so benches are typically very high in Finnish saunas.
The goal of sauna design is typically to get the sauna bathers’ feet above the stoves so they sit in what the Finns call The Loyly Pocket. The best stretching and yoga saunas will have a false floor or high platform above the floor on which the sauna heater rests.
This is a design challenge, but it’s a truly remarkable yoga, sauna, and stretching experience when done well.
Adapting Your Space: Removable Benches For The Win
The traditional sauna setup, often featuring static benches, may not always be conducive for yoga. The solution? Opt for removable benches. These allow you to transform the sauna space according to your yoga requirements. Removing or reconfiguring the benches can free up floor space, providing the room needed for your yoga routine. Such flexibility in modifying the sauna environment can greatly enhance your hot yoga sauna experience.
We recommend Thermory wood for the bench material whenever possible. Aspen, Poplar, Cedar, and Thermo-aspen are excellent choices.
Why Not Infrared?
Look for a hot yoga sauna that can reach temperatures of 160 degrees and above and provide humidity. Proper heat and humidity levels are critical. Infrared saunas are a poor choice for hot yoga saunas and stretching because they cannot reach authentic sauna temperatures and provide no humidity control.
Infrared saunas are a ‘point source’ of heat. They use light wave energy that can only impact parts of your skin with a direct line of sight. So while they might be an OK option for hot yoga and Bikram, infrared sauna heat is a poor choice for home and commercial hot sauna studios.
In some cases, infrared sauna kits can be converted into proper home saunas. Of course, we recommend getting it right the first time if you want an authentic sauna yoga experience.
The Heat Source Debate: Wood vs. Electric
Regarding heat sources for sauna yoga, there are two main options: traditional wood-fired saunas and modern electric ones. Wood-fired saunas provide an authentic sauna experience, radiating high-temperature heat that’s perfect for a classic sauna.
On the other hand, electric saunas offer convenience and control, and keep the room cleaner. They allow you to adjust the temperature precisely, ensuring an environment that matches your comfort level. Your choice of heat source will depend on your preference and the type of yoga session you plan to conduct.
There are two excellent heaters on the market for hot yoga. The first is a SaunaAir, and it just recently became available in North America.
Upgrade Your Sauna Yoga Sessions with Saunum Air
Yoga is all about connecting with oneself, relaxing, and rejuvenating. What if you could enhance your yoga experience with the right kind of sauna? For those of you who enjoy Sauna Yoga, it’s time to meet the game changer – the Saunum Air.
Unlike traditional sauna heaters, the Saunum revolutionizes your sauna experience by eliminating the problem of heat stratification, a common issue in electric saunas where the best oxygen is low, and the best heat is high. The Saunum Air’s patented air blending technology pulls cool, oxygen-rich air from the floor and combines it with the hot, oxygen-poor air from the ceiling. This ensures a uniform temperature and oxygen level throughout your sauna.
Why does it matter for Sauna Yoga? This unique feature enables the heat to be more concentrated at the floor level, where yoga is typically performed, hence optimizing your sessions and amplifying the health benefits.
The Saunum Air series offers three distinct models: Saunum Air 3, Saunum Air 5, and Saunum Air 10, catering to room sizes ranging from 123 to 353 cu. ft. The Saunum Air 5 is an excellent choice for Sauna Yoga enthusiasts with its capacity to handle a room size of 176-247 cu. ft. Equipped with an impressive 154 lbs of stone capacity, this model releases softer, more even heat.
In addition to its cutting-edge air blending technology, the Saunum Air 5 is a work of art. It embodies the clean, minimalistic Scandinavian design aesthetics in a beautiful black steel finish.
Plus, with the Saunum Air 5, you can now create your personalized sauna environment. From a classic Nordic steam sauna to a relaxing, mild sauna, you can adjust the temperature as per your preference.
Furthermore, the Saunum Air 5 is designed to heighten your sauna experience with its Himalayan Salt Reservoir. This unique feature releases healthful salt ions into the room, contributing to your overall well-being.
It’s all about the air you heat, feel, and breathe. If you already have a sauna heater or stove that’s not evenly heating your sauna, you can fix the problem with the Saunum Air Solo – this is just the air management system without the heater.
Elevate Your Sauna Yoga Experience with the Harvia Forte Always-Ready Electric Sauna Heater
When it comes to optimizing your sauna yoga sessions, the heater you choose plays a pivotal role. The Harvia Forte Always-Ready Electric Sauna Heater is an exceptional choice that combines convenience, robust thermal mass, and exceptional build quality, all of which cater perfectly to sauna yoga.
Built for spontaneous sessions, the Harvia Forte Always-Ready heater is perfect for those who love to engage in impromptu sauna yoga sessions. It maintains a ready state, keeping sauna stones continuously warm, so you don’t have to wait for the heater to get to the temperature. Press “HI” on the digital Harvia Xafir-control panel, and your sauna will be ready in minutes. You can enjoy a revitalizing yoga session, morning or evening, whenever you want!
Moreover, the Harvia Forte is designed with a corrosion-resistant stainless-steel stone space, ensuring the heater’s longevity and providing a substantial thermal mass. This feature is necessary for regular sauna yoga practitioners as it retains the heat for longer, creating a consistently warm environment perfect for yoga.
Remember, standard sauna heaters can take up to an hour and a half to heat up.
Besides, this powerful heater can accommodate saunas from 250 to 421 cubic feet, which means it’s suitable for a range of spaces, from compact home saunas to larger commercial installations. The Harvia Forte is as versatile as it is reliable.
The Harvia Forte also stands out for its energy-efficient design. The insulated stone chamber maintains the optimal temperature without wasting energy, a critical aspect for those who appreciate sustainability. With the digital Xafir-control panel, you can effortlessly customize your sauna temperature, ensuring a comfortable and rejuvenating yoga session each time.
But it’s not just about efficiency and power. Safety and user-friendliness are also paramount. The exterior of the Harvia Forte remains cool to the touch, an excellent feature if you have young children around or want to avoid any inadvertent burns during your yoga session.
In short, the Harvia Forte Always-Ready Electric Sauna Heater offers a seamless integration of power, convenience, and advanced technology, making it an outstanding choice for sauna yoga enthusiasts. Whether for personal use or a commercial setting, Harvia Forte is ready to take your sauna yoga sessions to the next level. Experience the luxury of a personalized sauna session with Harvia Forte – it’s always ready when you are!
Safety First: Considerations for Hot Yoga in Saunas
Practicing hot yoga in a sauna brings about unique safety considerations. The floor should have adequate traction to prevent slips during yoga poses. The heat and perspiration can create a slippery surface, making yoga movements hazardous without proper floor traction. Moreover, managing hydration is vital. The heat will cause you to sweat more, increasing the risk of dehydration. Always keep water nearby and hydrate before, during, and after your yoga session.
Most importantly, the heater needs to have a heater guard to prevent people from falling or walking into it. Also choose a heater like the ones above that have good thermal shielding.
Striking a Balance: Optimal Humidity and Temperature Levels
Finally, balancing temperature and humidity levels is essential when performing hot yoga in a sauna. Traditional Finnish saunas operate at high temperatures (80-100 degrees Celsius) with low humidity (20%). However, for extended yoga sessions, these conditions might be uncomfortable. You may need to lower the temperature or increase the humidity to maintain a comfortable environment. The key is adjusting these factors to match your comfort level, optimizing your hot yoga sauna experience.
Always start with a comfortable temperature and humidity level, take lots of breaks, drink loads of water, and get out if you feel light-headed.