YOGA: Some like it hot!
I often get the question, “Do you have “Hot Yoga” at YHE? Do we have yoga in a room with the temperature super hot, like 110 degrees? The answer to this question is no. Do we teach hot yoga classes? The answer to this question is yes, most definitely!
Let me explain. When one practices yoga, a natural phenomenon occurs. You bring up heat, or tapas. Tapas is the natural raising of the energy in the body’s chemistry due to movement. This process purifies mental fluctuations, and burns bodily toxins. Tapas in today’s yoga world references self-discipline. It is about devoting your life to the inner fire: the fire that burns away obstacles and through all desires. It may require challenge but should not cause suffering.
The real hot yoga is when you create your own heat internally. In essence, it is what the physical part of yoga is about in terms of clearing and cleansing. Even classes, gentle in nature, bring a smooth warmth to the practitioner and stimulate smooth circulation. Beginning and Beginning & Beyond classes generate a higher level of heat, suitable for the mastery of basic foundational skills. Heat generated by holding posses for longer periods of time can be very challenging and satisfying. This kind of tapas work can actually change body architecture, reduce stiffness, and build strength.
High energy yoga classes are designed to allow the practitioner to bring up their own internal thermostat, and in such classes, students sweat considerably in a room of 75 plus degrees. There is no need to turn up the heat. Classes that facilitate high tapas for an individual at Yoga for Health Education, are all Continuing level classes, all morning flows, and Kundalini classes. In each of these classes, you will sweat.
Patajali, the author of the Yoga Sutras, cautions that tapas should not be so extreme as to cause harm. Tapas is a conscious commitment to your aim. It is as much mental and spiritual, as it is physical. Tapas is self-discipline and self-discipline is freedom.
Remember, all yoga classes bring warmth and smooth circulation to the body. The question is this… what Yoga, for whom, how long, and when? Some will find a very hot room pleasurable, but for others, this kind of heat may be counter productive for health. Knowing yourself, and your current state of health, and choosing what you find comfortable for your nature is the best. If you aren’t sure, try different styles and see how you feel. Trust your intuition!
Libby Robold, MA, E-RYT, PRYT, AYT Yoga Therapist Co- Director Yoga for Health Education, LLC
(image from http://www.elephantjournal.com)