Yoga is not a workout, it’s “work-in.” During a regular yoga practice, you will work every system of the body: skeletal, muscular, digestive, circulatory, lymphatic, respiratory, endocrine, reproductive, nervous, reproductive, and cardiovascular. Each yoga class offers a series of asanas (yoga postures) designed to cleanse and detoxify, to compress vital organs and manipulate blood flow to flush out unwanted toxins and to prevent clogging and blockages that can lead to disease.
What you see on the outside—a lean, strong body—is merely a byproduct of what you get on the inside. Yoga is a virtual fountain of youth, but it’s not a quick fix. It takes work, but the work you put in you get back in dividends.
Here are just a few of the benefits of hot yoga:
There’s a reason we crank the heat to 105 degrees: to sweat. Sweating is one of the best ways to eliminate toxins from the body. The more water you drink, the more you sweat. The more you sweat, the more you detoxify. It’s like taking a shower from the inside out—resulting in a body that is clean and pure after every practice. The skin is the largest organ of the body and therefore sweat is the fastest way to get the toxins out. That is why we embrace the heat. We love the heat because we love the sweat.
Another method of detoxification is compression. Many yoga postures are specifically designed to compress vital organs and manipulate the blood flow, first to restrict the blood and then to flush it out. This is done through compression—engaging muscles that are located near major organs and then releasing. This also prevents build up and blockages that can lead to fatigue, illness, injury and disease.
STRENGTH + FLEXIBILITY
A common misconception is that you have to be flexible to do yoga. Flexibility is only half of the equation. The goal is to find the perfect balance between strength and flexibility that is necessary for the body to function efficiently. If you are strong, you will become more flexible. If you are flexible, you will become stronger. If you have both, you will maintain both. The balance of strength and flexibility is key for injury prevention, athletic performance, and maintaining a state of youth and vitality that will allow you to continue an active lifestyle into old age. (This is another reason for the heat: practicing yoga in a heated room allows you to get much deeper into stretches without hurting yourself and therefore, become more flexible. Don’t believe us? Try practicing the same postures in a cold room. Then you’ll learn to appreciate the heat).
In Aspen where people spend their lives hiking, biking, and skiing we see a lot of orthopedic problems and injuries that require surgery. While hot yoga is a great way to rehabilitate after an injury or surgery, it’s even better when used as preventative medicine. With a regular practice you will see increased mobility and flexibility in bones, ligaments and joints. By increasing the flow of synovial fluid to the joints and retaining proper blood flow and oxygen delivery to the muscles, you will be less likely to incur injuries and suffer chronic pain from overuse and bad alignment. This is also the key to maintaining your youth and vitality, to reclaiming the body you had as a child. Which brings us to …
MAINTAIN YOUTH + VITALITY
As we grow older, gravity takes it’s toll on our bodies. After a lifetime of rounding over—to drive, to work on the computer, to pick things up, our spines begin to shorten. Our bones calcify and become brittle and weak. Through a regular yoga practice, you can maintain the health of your muscles and bones by increasing the flow of synovial fluid, blood, and oxygen to the joints and muscles. This is particularly important of the spine. All yoga postures are centered around lengthening and strengthening the spine. The goal is to create healthy circulation and blood flow to the discs as well as adequate space between them to maintain healthy posture even in old age. You may find that with a regular yoga practice, you might grow and inch or two! That is much better than shrinking, which is what happens to so many of us as we grow old.
Good news, Aspen: Yoga can greatly enhance your performance in other sports. Not only will you achieve a better balance of flexibility and strength, you will gain an awareness of your body that will allow you to refine movement and activate certain muscle groups while relaxing others, which means the body becomes much more efficient. You will also learn breathing techniques that will help you find a new sense of calm during states of exertion to conserve energy. Finally, you will have much better sense of balance through an increased understanding of alignment and core strength that translates well to all mountain sports.