Benefits of Infrared Hot Yoga
Yoga can be challenging enough, so why would we want to add the intense element of heat into our practice? There is a method to the hot yoga madness! Below we share the benefits of hot yoga (aka Lava Flow) and explore the ideal hot yoga candidates. Read more to find out if this practice is right for you.
What is Lava Flow?
You can think of Lava Flow classes as Jungle Flow, Vinyasa Style classes with the added element of heat.
The room is heated by infrared panels to 95-97 degrees. This particular type of heating system was specifically selected for the utmost benefit for our students — if we’re going to do it, we’re going to do it right! We cover the benefits of infrared heat vs. blown heat below.
Why Does Mangala Yoga Maui Offer Hot Yoga?
A few years back, there was a hot yoga community here on Maui that wasn’t getting its needs met. We had the space and decided to create the best of the best in hot yoga rooms and offerings.
One of the studio’s core intentions is to meet the wide range of needs of its students. Maureen (Mangala Yoga studio owner) says:
“There are types of students who take it day by day and choose their yoga class based on how their body feels on any given day. And then there is another type of student who is simply a hot yoga person and NEEDS to get their hot yoga on! I just love that we can fulfill the needs of both types of students.”
How is Lava Flow Different from Bikram Yoga?
Many people assume our Maui hot yoga classes are the same as Bikram Yoga classes. This is definitely not true!
One main difference is that the temperature in a Bikram Yoga class is set at 104 degrees. As mentioned, our Lava Flow room is heated to 97 degrees.
The reason for this difference is in large part due to the type of sequencing we do. Bikram Yoga is designed to simulate the heat in Calcutta and the sequencing is extremely simple and static to accommodate this intensity.
Lava Flow classes are done in our signature Vinyasa Flow style. If our Lava Flow class was done at 104 degrees like Bikram, we would pass out! The body wouldn’t be able to withstand the speed and intensity of a Vinyasa Flow yoga class.
We have found that most of our students love variety and enjoy the Vinyasa flow style that we offer. Slightly reducing the heat in order to stay with our signature yoga style is a perfect compromise.
In addition, most Bikram Yoga rooms utilize “blown” heat in order to raise the temperature to the desired heat level. This heating method heats the whole room with blown, hot air. We find this type of heat drying, challenging for the sinuses and difficult to breathe in.
On the other hand, infrared heat penetrates the skin, gets to a cell level, and does some really serious rejuvenating and detoxifying on a cellular level.
Clover Love, one of our masterful Lave Flow instructors says:
“What I love about the infrared or panel heating is that we are actually heating the bodies in the room. With the sweat and humidity it is a much easier heat to breathe with the infrared heat than the blown heat, and of course, breathing is essential to yoga!”
What are the benefits of hot yoga?
The 5 major benefits you receive with a regular practice of hot yoga are:
- Detoxification: Sweating at least once a day is ideal for many of the body’s systems. Hot yoga usually helps even those who have difficulty breaking a sweat to pour from the cells!
This detoxification effect is intensified by the infrared heating system that we use at Mangala Yoga.
In addition, the postures themselves are detoxifying for your muscles, organs, and glands.
- Increased Flexibility and Fluidity in the Joints: In a non-heated, Vinyasa Yoga class, we use the Sun A and Sun B postures to heat the body up and prepare the body for more advanced postures.
In hot yoga, we reach that point of warmth a lot sooner. The heat makes the body a bit more like clay or taffy. The muscles and joints gets softer and more mobile.
As long as we are being mindful and not overdoing it, we get to simply play with that “taffy” in the heat. We can go deeper into postures and stretch ourselves beyond what we are normally capable of doing.
- Increased Focus: Because of the intensity of the heat, we are asked to cultivate a really deep level of focus when we practice hot yoga. Our heart and lungs and entire body are being asked to work harder than they would anywhere else. In that challenge and intensity we are being asked to breathe, focus and pay attention.
On the topic of focus, Clover says:
“I personally can get distracted and start daydreaming in non-heated Vinyasa classes. But in hot yoga class I have to focus, or slip and loose it. Hot yoga demands a whole different level of focus from me and the students.”
- Intense Cardiovascular Workout:Your heart can work the same way doing yoga postures in a heated room as it does when running a mile, and you never even leave your mat. Particularly in postures when you are balancing and contracting your muscles at the same time.
A 90-minute class can burn up to 1,000 calories. The way you stretch and compress your internal organs and glands also stimulates metabolism so you are burning calories quicker outside the room as well.
- Healing:The primary purpose of this yoga is therapy. With a regular practice, these postures can help to heal old injuries and also prevent them in the future. This is especially true for, but not limited to, back pain.
Hot Yoga is also known to reduce symptoms of conditions and illnesses including diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure, depression, arthritis and obesity. When done in conjunction with your other physical activities (e.g. surfing, running, non-heated yoga classes) you only need to practice hot yoga 1-2 times per week to reap the rewards!
Is Hot Yoga Good for You?
Hot yoga is good for:
- Type A people that need the intensity as an excuse to get on the mat.
- People who “run cold” and have a difficult time creating heat/sweating on their own.
- Anyone who wants to push their body to new levels of flexibility and strength.
- Yogis who can tend to be a little “lazy” and need the added intensity of heat to challenge themselves out of their comfort zone.
Hot Yoga may not be ideal for:
- People who naturally “run hot” (in Ayurvedic traditions, those with a strong Pitta constitution).
- Newbies who are just getting started with yoga (although some try it and love it immediately!)
If you are not sure if hot yoga is right for you, we recommend committing to 5 classes within a months time and seeing how it feels.
It can take a good 5 classes for the body to adjust to the heat, but after the initial acclimation stage, you can tell if hot yoga is right for you by how you feel after class.
If hot yoga is a good fit for you, you will feel activated, energized and clearer after class.
If, on the other hand, you feel sluggish, edgy or irritable after your practice, hot yoga might not be the best fit for you. You may want to consider if you generally feel this way or if you felt this way before going into class, and if the answer is no, it could be that the heat is too intense for your system.
YOU are Why We Love Teaching Lava Flow!
Our Lava Flow instructors LOVE teaching these particular classes. When asked what she loves most about teaching Lava Flow, Annmarie Torez, one of our amazing hot yoga facilitators said:
“What I love most about teaching hot yoga is the energy. It really reminds me of when I see the canoes on the ocean. That team energy where everybody has a part, everybody’s together, they are all in a synchronistic flow. It is beautiful to see and I can imagine that it’s beautiful to feel.
So being the guide in the room makes me really feel that same kind of energy. Everybody is “rowing together” and everybody is in there for their righteous reasons and bringing the righteous vibe…that’s what I live for!”
Coming to a heated yoga class is like throwing yourself into a new culture with a new language, which can be scary! If you are new to yoga, or new to the heat, always be compassionate and gentle with yourself.