Is Hot Yoga Healthy?

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Kudos for Hot Yoga

The results are in: yoga contributes to a wide range of physical and psychological improvements.

According to USA Today, extensive research reports that Hatha Yoga can benefit people with asthma, arthritis, and high blood pressure.

Cardiac surgeon at New York Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan, Dr. Mehmet Oz, says:

"Yoga massages the lymph system,  activating the flow of lymph throughout the body, speeding up its infection-fighting and waste-filtering process, and promoting “the draining of the lymph.”

According to Oz, specific asanas  “stretch muscles that ...are known to stimulate the lymph system.”

An eight-week study completed by Dr. Ralph Schumacher of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in 1998 determined that a “yoga-based regimen was more effective than wrist splinting or no treatment in relieving some symptoms and signs of carpal tunnel syndrome.”

Dr. Dean Ornish also found that 80% of his tested heart patients were able to avoid bypass or angioplasty by adhering to lifestyle changes, including Yoga.

Yoga; it's good for what ails you. And the hotter, the better

Can Hot Yoga Soothe Your Achin' Back?

Everyday, people misuse their backs to bend, lift, push and twist. The result is tremendous and improper wear and tear on the vertebrae, organs, and “chi,” the body's essential life force.

How does the heat of hot yoga support and strengthen your back?

  • Heat dilates the blood vessels of muscles surrounding the lumbar spine, increasing oxygen and nutrients to the muscles, helping to heal damaged tissue.
  • Heat stimulates the sensory receptors in the skin; applying heat to the lower back will decrease transmissions of pain signals to the brain and partially relieve discomfort.
  • Heat facilitates stretching of soft tissues around the spine including muscles, connective tissue, and adhesions.
  • Heat can decrease back stiffness as well as injury, while increasing flexibility and overall feeling of comfort.

Apply the heat of hot yoga, and make your own come back.

Will Health Insurance Cover Hot Yoga?

Insurance companies may have finally caught on: yoga promotes health.

In 2010, 239 Aetna employees volunteered in a mind-body stress reduction program where 96 employees were assigned to mindfulness-based classes, 90 were assigned to therapeutic yoga classes and 53 were assigned as the control group.

The second group participated in a 12-week therapeutic yoga-based program and received instruction for managing stress including physical yoga postures, breathing techniques, guided relaxation and mental skills.

The yoga classes helped relieve muscle tension in the back, neck and shoulders, improve sleep and increase feelings of well-being. The classes also provided coping strategies for dealing with stressful events through yoga.

Aetna announced that early results of two stress-reduction programs showed significant reductions in stress as compared to the control group. Aetna’s review of medical claims’ data showed a positive correlation between costs and study participants’ stress levels, suggesting potential health care costs savingsby reducing stress.

The success of both programs offers evidence that certain mind-body approaches can be an effective complement to conventional medicine.

An estimated 43 percent of U.S. adults suffer adverse health effects from stress including reduced immunity to illness, increased risk of diabetes and weight gain. Among the Aetna study volunteers, those reporting the highest level of stress had nearly $2,000 more medical costs annually.

The positive results seen in these studies offer evidence that mind-body approaches to health improvement are an effective and targeted solution for employers who want to lower the costs associated with stress and help their employees achieve better overall health.

So will your employer-based insurance policy cover the cost of your hot yoga classes? Bring your boss to hot yoga and let her feel the benefits...then it may be time for that celebration!

THE GREAT AND POWERFUL OZ LOVES HOT YOGA

"If you can work up a sweat for just 1 hour a week, you'll enjoy a range of benefits: reduced risk of heart attack, better mood, and lower blood pressure...

"Your muscles will become more efficient, so you'll have more stamina for more enjoyable activities that also work up a sweat...yoga is the most important exercise of my daily routine.

"Yoga eases stress, lowers blood pressure, slows heart rates, and increases flexibility...

"Loosening muscles will make them more adaptable, so you may be less likely to injure yourself playing sports...

"Yoga can reach and work muscles that are ignored during routine sports and daily life."

Yes, Dr. Mehmet Oz of the Dr. Oz show said it best. Yoga works on your blood, sweat and tears...but in a very, very good way.

FLEXIBLE BODY. HEALTHY HEART. THANK YOU, HOT YOGA

A study published 2009 in the journal Heart and Circulatory Physiology suggests a novel way to self-test at least one element of your heart’s health:

Sit on the floor with your legs stretched straight out in front of you, toes pointing up. Reach forward from the hips. If you're flexible enough to touch your toes, your cardiac arteries probably are also flexible.

In fact, we do that in Hot Yoga daily. It's called Separate Leg Stretch Forward Bend. If you're not touching your toes by the first hot yoga class, hang in there (literally) and you will be soon, with regular hot yoga practice: three times a week to build your body and your benefits.

It's interesing that researchers found a correlation between inflexible bodies and inflexible arteries in people older than 40. The study concluded that “a less flexible body indicates arterial stiffening, especially in middle-aged and older adults.”

Not middle aged yet? Blink your eyes and you will be; it comes sooner than you think. Start preparing your body to handle it well.

Now, if you're already in the inflexible group, don't worry: you're not necessarily in imminent danger of a heart attack.  Arterial stiffening does not inevitably lead to arterial disease, and some degree of arterial stiffening is inevitable with age. But the stiffer your arteries, the less efficient your heart.

If you can touch your toes in Separate Leg Forward Bend, congrats. If not, remember that tight arteries are not necessarily diseased arteries. But hey, they're not doing you any good. Loosen up...it's hot yoga time.

Is yoga the coolest?

A study published in the Indian Journal of Personality and Clinical Studies compared the effectiveness of Hatha yoga with that of  Diazepam, a drug prescribed for anxiety.

Group 1 measured the effectiveness of yoga practiced five times per week for three months while Group 2 measured the effectiveness of drug therapy for the same time period.

At least 6.7% of Group 1 subjects were reported to be completely asymptomatic as compared with none of the Group 2 subjects.

A University of California at Davis study tested the effects of Hatha yoga on muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, body composition, and pulmonary function.  For eight-weeks,  volunteers were required to attend a minimum of two yoga classes per week.

The results:

  • 31% increase in isokinetic muscular strength for elbow extension
  • 19% increase in strength for elbow flexion
  • 28% increase in strength for knee extension
  • 57% increase in isometric muscular endurance for knee flexion
  • 13% increase in ankle flexibility
  • 55% increase in shoulder elevation
  • 188% increase in trunk extension
  • 14% increase in trunk flexion
  • 7% increase in absolute oxygen uptake.

Yowza.

Two studies published in the April 2000 issue of Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology showed that “yoga may be as effective as drug therapy in controlling hypertension,” and similarly showed that a four-month Hatha yoga treatment “significantly increased feelings of good health,” as measured through the use of a standardized scale known as the “Subjective Well-Being Inventory.”

Well being, through hatha yoga. That's hot.

 Results may vary, and are not claimed to represent typical results. Results seen are meant as a showcase of what the best, most motivated clients have done. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please consult your physician before beginning any program. If there is a change in your medical condition, please notify your physician immediately.