Hot yoga, or Bikram yoga, is a style practised in a room heated to 105°F with a humidity level of around 40%. The heat and humidity create an intense and detoxifying workout, making hot yoga a popular choice for those looking to sweat it out and destress. We’ll explore some of the most popular poses you can expect to encounter when practising hot yoga and focus on your breath in Hot Yoga.
Some might wonder if Yoga get’s easier and the answer is YES! If you have a hard time doing the poses, we also offer you very beginner poses so you can practice the breathing techniques first hand as that will help you get into flexibility and strength.
Your Breath During (Hot) Yoga
Maintaining good breathing during hot yoga is crucial for optimizing your practice in a heated environment. Also, in normal yoga, beath is of utter importance. Here are some tips to help you enhance your breathing:
- Be Mindful: Set an intention to focus on your breath. Stay present and aware of your inhalations and exhalations throughout your practice.
- Deep Belly Breathing: Practice diaphragmatic breathing by inhaling deeply through your nose, allowing your belly to expand, and exhaling slowly, gently drawing your belly in. This promotes relaxation and oxygenation.
- Consistent Breath: Maintain a steady and consistent breath. Avoid shallow, rapid breathing. Aim for slow, controlled breaths, matching the length of your inhalations and exhalations.
- Ujjayi Breathing: Utilize Ujjayi breath, constricting the back of your throat while breathing in and out through your nose. This technique regulates the breath and generates internal heat.
- Emphasize Exhalations: Focus on complete exhalations, releasing tension and stress. This facilitates relaxation and deeper stretches.
- Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to your body’s cues and adjust your breath accordingly. Modify movements and take deeper, slower breaths if needed.
- Practice Beyond Hot Yoga: Incorporate breathing exercises and mindfulness techniques into your daily routine. Cultivating good breathing habits outside of hot yoga strengthens your foundation for focused breathing during practice.
Developing a consistent breathing practice takes time. With regular effort, you will improve your breath control, enhance focus, and deepen your mind-body connection in hot yoga.
Bikram Yoga Poses
Standing Bow Pulling Pose
This challenging pose will test your balance and concentration. Begin by standing with both feet together and your hands at your sides. Reach your right hand behind your back and grab onto your right ankle. Focus on a point before you and slowly kick your right leg up and back, stretching your arm forward simultaneously. Hold for 30-60 seconds before releasing and repeating on the other side.
The eagle pose is a great way to stretch your shoulders and hips. Begin standing with both feet together and your arms at your sides. Bend your knees slightly and lift your left leg, crossing it over your right thigh. Bend your elbows and bring your forearms together, with your palms facing each other. Hold for 30-60 seconds before releasing and repeating on the other side.
This pose is excellent for stretching your chest, shoulders, and lower back. Begin by kneeling on your mat with your knees hip-distance apart. Place your hands on your lower back and lean back, arching your spine and bringing your hands towards your heels. Keep your neck relaxed and hold for 30-60 seconds before releasing.
Half Tortoise Pose
Half Tortoise pose is a great way to stretch your spine and calm your mind. Begin by sitting on your mat with your legs extended in front of you. Take a deep breath in and raise your arms above your head. As you exhale, fold forward and bring your forehead to the mat. Reach your arms forward and hold for 30-60 seconds before releasing.
The cobra pose is a great way to strengthen your back muscles. Begin by lying face down on your mat with your hands by your shoulders. As you inhale, lift your chest off the mat, keeping your elbows close to your sides. Hold for 30-60 seconds before releasing.
Standing Yoga Poses for Beginners
Standing poses are first among the yoga poses every beginner is taught about in a yoga class. These standing poses may sound easier but are the most strenuous for beginners.
The notable benefits of standing poses include adding heat to the body, preparing the muscles for prolonged stretch and keeping your mind ready for longer yoga sessions.
1. Mountain pose
This asana is known as Tadasana. This pose is either a resting pose or a preparatory pose for other standing yoga.
- Improves posture and alignment of the body.
- Creates a sense of awareness.
- Strengthens spinal nerves, feet and anklets.
Bring your feet close to each other and keep them within hip width. Extend your heels outwards. Allow your weight to rest on your toes. Your arms should be downwards, and your palms should point towards your body. Draw your ribs in the direction of your belly. Inhale and exhale a few times while focusing on a spot straight ahead.
2. Downward-facing dog
This pose is known as Adho Mukha Svanasana. This is the second most important asana in all yoga sessions.
- Increases blood circulation in the body.
- Gives good stretch to the calf muscles.
- It eliminates back pain and stiffness.
Stand on a yoga mat. Keep your feet at hip distance and distribute your body weight evenly between both feet. Your arms should be at your sides. Lean forward and put your palms on the floor. Your back should be straight, and your fingers should be spread apart. Bend your knees if required. Extend your feet backwards and keep your hands beneath the shoulders. Raise your hips towards the ceiling so that your body makes the shape of an inverted “V”. Keeping your eyes on your toes, press your chest in the direction of your knees and your heels in the direction of the floor. Inhale deeply. Try touching your heels on the floor per your body’s flexibility.
3. Warrior pose
This asana is also known as Virabhadrasana. It is performed to build stamina and develop stability and balance in your body.
- Strengthens your legs and ankles.
- Opens your lungs and chest.
- Provides energy to the tired limbs.
- Effective against osteoporosis, sciatica and flat feet.
Raise your arms above your head while inhaling. Now bring your hands at your chest in prayer position. Outstretch your arms so that they are parallel to the floor with palms facing downwards. While you exhale, bend your right knee to a 90° angle. Your left knee should be at a 45 to 60° angle to the right. Stay in this position for 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat the same on the other side.
Yoga Backbends and Balancing Poses for Beginners
Balancing asanas are ideal for a beginner. It offers strength and stretch to your entire body. Balancing poses are designed to build core strength of your body so that you can easily perform other poses. Backbends are the first among the most-complicated yoga poses for beginners. It offers strength to your spine while increasing flexibility.
4. Tree pose
Vrksasana, or Tree Pose, is the essential balancing yoga pose for new practitioners.
- Strengthens your thighs, core, shoulders, calves and groin.
- Improves your posture.
- Boost up your body awareness and calms your mind.
Start with the mountain pose. Slowly shift your body weight to your right leg. Bring your left foot’s sole inside your right thigh. The left foot’s toes should be pointing towards the floor. Stretch your belly button in the direction of your spine. Bring your hands in prayer position towards your chest. Inhale and lift your arms overhead. Breathe easily and gaze at a fixed point. Remain in this position for five breaths. Repeat the same procedure on the other side.
5. Bridge pose
This asana is known as Setu Bandhasana. This pose is usually done as a warm-up bending pose to strengthen your spine, neck, shoulders and chest. This pose may look very difficult but it can be done easily when you practice it by keeping the pillows under your hips for extended support.
- Stretches your chest, neck, shoulders and spine.
- Strengthens hamstrings, buttocks and back.
- Stimulates the organs of the abdomen and aids in digestion.
- Relaxes central nervous system.
Keep your arms at your sides and lie on your back with your knees bent. Your feet should be hip-width apart and flat on the floor. Press your feet into the floor. Raise your hips towards the ceiling while inhaling. Interlock your fingers, pressing your forearms downwards. Move your chest towards your chin. Hold this pose for 4-8 breaths. Slowly return to the original position while exhaling.
6. Triangle pose
This pose is called Trikonasana. This pose is recommended for beginners as it offers full body strength. It also relieves you from backache. This triangle pose is a must for pregnant women practising yoga for the first time.
- Strengthens your thighs, knees and ankles.
- Aids in digestion.
- Alleviates anxiety and stress.
- Stimulates the abdominal organs.
Begin with Mountain Pose. Exhale and put your right foot three feet apart from your left foot. Turn your left foot in by 15° and your right foot at 90°. The centre of the arch of the left foot should be aligned with the centre of the right heel. Balance your weight equally on both feet and press them against the ground. Inhale deeply. Bend your body downwards from the hips towards the right while exhaling. Keep your waist straight. Your right hand should face towards the floor while your left hand should be in the air. Ensure that both arms form a straight line. Put your right hand on the floor, ankle or shin. Turn your head towards the left. Fix your eyes on the left palm.
Ensure your chest and pelvis are wide open and your body is bent sideways. While inhaling, stretch your body as much as you can. Relax your body while you exhale. Repeat the same procedure on the other side.
7. Cat-cow stretch
This yoga is a combo of Cow Pose (also known as Bitilasana) and Cat Pose (also called as Marjaisana).
- Increases the flexibility of the spines.
- Stretches lungs and chest, thereby aiding in the breathing process.
- Relieves sciatica and lower back pain.
Kneel, keeping your wrists beneath the shoulders and knees under the hips. Lengthen your body from head to tailbone. Your fingers should be spread wide, and body weight should be distributed evenly on your knees and hands. Look at a spot. Raise your spine towards the ceiling while inhaling. Your head should be towards the floor, and your legs and arms should be perpendicular. This is the Cat Pose. While exhaling, return your spine to its original position.
Inhale and curve your back downwards to the floor, lifting your tailbone and chest towards the ceiling. Elevate your head and fix your gaze. Keep your legs and hands perpendicular to the floor. This is the Cow Pose.
Exhale and bring your spine back to the initial position. With each inhales and exhale, alternate Cat and Cow Pose. Repeat it 15-20 times.
Sitting and Resting Yoga Poses for Beginners
You can do simple resting poses whenever you need a break during your yoga session. The resting poses include gentle bending and stretching.
They also increase the flexibility of your body to continue with other asanas. Sitting yoga poses are usually done towards the end of every yoga session.
Sitting poses stretch your hands and hamstrings while keeping your body warmed up. One can use a soft blanket or a pillow to add more support to the butt area.
8. Cobbler’s pose
This pose is also known as the bound angle pose or butterfly pose. In Sanskrit, it is known as Baddha Konasana. This pose can open your hips and grains. Try padding the bones near your seat to stay comfortable while doing this pose.
- This pose stretches the knees, groins and inner thighs.
- Relieves sciatica pain.
- Stimulates bladder, prostate gland, ovary and abdominal organs.
- Eases childbirth in late pregnancy.
Sit straight while keeping your legs straight. Slowly bring together the soles of your feet towards the pelvis. Hold your ankles with your hands. To balance the pelvis, you can use cushions under the sit bones. Exhale and stretch your spine. Also, stretch your torso as far as you can. Stay in this position for 3-5 minutes.
9. Seated spine twist
Ardha Matsyendrasana, a seated twist, is one of the essential yoga poses for beginners. It is a perfect exercise for those who sit and work for longer hours.
- Reduces stress from the shoulders, knees, hips and neck area.
- It prevents slipped discs and maintains the elasticity of the ligaments and intervertebral discs.
- Stretches the abdominal region and chest.
- Increases blood circulation towards kidneys, stomach, pancreas, spleen, liver, small and large intestines.
Sit on the floor, extending your legs in front of you. Bring your knees close to your chest while inhaling. Both your feet should be on the floor. Put down your left leg. Rest the left foot against the right hip.
Raise your right leg and put it on your left leg. Your knee should be towards the ceiling. Keep your right ankle to the side of your left knee. Draw your right leg towards your body, as per your comfort.
As you twist towards the right, extend the left elbow outwards the right knee while exhaling. Keep this pose for 25-30 seconds. Then, repeat it on the other side.
10. Pigeon pose
The pigeon pose is also known as Eka Pada Rajakapotasana in Sanskrit.
- Relieves backache.
- It makes your hips flexible.
- Opens up the shoulder and chest.
- Stretches, groins and thighs.
Kneel on your hands and knees. Bring the left knee in the forward direction, putting your left foot on the floor across. Slide your right leg backwards. Your shin should be flat on the floor. Fold your body downwards on the floor.
Inhale and push your body up with the help of your hands. Stretch your arms as much as possible in the forward direction, keeping your shoulders relaxed.
10 Benefits of Hot Yoga That You Must Know
1. Increases Blood Circulation
Hot yoga works out by increasing the body temperature of a person. This way, muscle stretching becomes more accessible. A person’s blood circulation following hot yoga also increases during and after the yoga session. With a quick body warm-up and easy muscle stretch, one can safely get into all yoga positions.
2. Increases Flexibility
Yoga is all about flexibility, but many beginners find it difficult to stretch their bodies when they are introduced to yoga. Instead of regular yoga, if a person prefers hot yoga, then s/he can quickly achieve flexibility. Hot yoga tones your muscles and gives you the energy to stretch better. Moreover, it increases the flexibility of blood vessels by accelerating your metabolism and pulse rate.
3. Removes Toxins
Hot yoga can quickly flush out toxins from a person’s body. Hot yoga consists of 26 primary poses specifically designed to gush out unwanted toxins from the body. While practising hot yoga, people tend to sweat excessively, which helps remove excessive salt. Hot room detoxifies your body which is a key to an energetic and healthy lifestyle.
4. Regularizes Breathing
Those who are obese face a lot of breathing issues. Not only obese people but also others facing the danger of developing cardiovascular diseases tend to develop breathing issues. Hot yoga can relieve breathing difficulties, including short breathing. With the added element of heat, yoga increases blood circulation in a person’s body to streamline their breathing process.
5. Improves Body Strength and Stamina
Hot yoga has a direct impact on the muscles. The more you stretch your muscles, the more stamina your body will build. This way, muscle toning becomes more accessible and effortless with hot yoga. Certain hot yoga poses that focus majorly on the spine, neck, shoulders and thighs increase the body strength of a person.
6. Good for the Spine
For those who are suffering from back pain and chronic backache, hot yoga is strongly recommended to them. Certain hot yoga poses are meant to increase spine strength. Keeping the spine stiff and stretchable relieves back pain.
7. Improves Focus
Hot yoga classes have longer stretch sessions and 26 difficult postures to follow. Doing them regularly increases the focus of a person. Mental stability can be achieved by practising hot yoga for more than eight weeks regularly. Besides, hot yoga sessions are a proven method to relieve a person from depression and stress.
8. Good for Healing
Hot yoga classes can make Healing and recovery processes faster and more effective. More minor to bigger muscle and bone injuries and even fractures can be healed with hot yoga. This yoga can be of great help to athletes and sportsmen.
9. Helps Reduce Weight
Hot yoga is a recommended workout to reduce weight faster. It increases the body temperature while managing the cardiovascular activities of your body. In this way, overweight people can burn calories faster. Instead of just focusing on reducing muscle weight, hot yoga reduces the body weight resulting from fat build-up. Weight loss by reducing body fat can permanently relieve obesity and other weight-related health issues.
10. Makes Your Skin Flawless
This yoga clears blemishes and sloughs off acne from your skin. You tend to drink more water after attending hot yoga classes, which, in turn, hydrates your skin and keeps it healthier and younger.
Hot Yoga vs Cold Yoga
Before we look into the differences between both forms of exercise, let’s take some time to explore the similarities.
Similarities In Hot and Cold Yoga
No matter the room’s temperature, yoga helps connect your mind to your body through meditation techniques that help you feel present.
In hot and cold yoga, you’ll begin your routine with warm-up exercises and breathing techniques to encourage blood flow and circulation around the body. These warm-up moves are referred to as asanas.
Hot yoga takes place in a room heated up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit and the entire routine features two breathing techniques and 26 poses that are usually combined in one session. With the combination of poses and heat, your mind is challenged to remain stable and persistent. At the same time, the excess sweaty helps to detoxify your body so you feel fresh and rejuvenated afterwards.
On the other hand, cold yoga isn’t performed in as hot conditions, though it’s not in a cold environment either. You’ll be in a room-temperature environment, and the moves encourage your body to warm up so you’ll never remain cold.
Cold yoga incorporates two different moves – Ananda and Ashtanga. The former is a slow and gentle flow from one pose to the next, while Ashtanga involves a quicker pace to increase the intensity.
The temperature difference challenges you. The more heat, the more calories you’ll burn since your heart has to work harder. Step onto scales after your first hot yoga session and discover you’ve lost weight. Although this is primarily fluid from sweating, you should replace any lost moisture with water or sports drinks.
Many people who regularly engage in hot yoga find that their flexibility has improved compared to cold yoga. The temperature increase encourages your muscles to warm up quicker, allowing you to stretch further and safely.
Yoga offers a challenging and rewarding workout for those seeking to destress and detoxify. The hot and humid environment allows for a deeper stretch and can help ease muscle tension. Whether a beginner or an experienced practitioner, these hot yoga poses are a great way to challenge yourself and deepen your practice. Try them and see how they can benefit your mind and body.