As a longtime yogi, I always practice throughout the year. In fact, summer has always been my favorite time to do yoga.
Certainly in Chicago, where the winters can be frigid and extreme, Hot Yoga is the best way to warm up. But there are a host of benefits to practicing even during the beautiful Chicago Summers.
Here are some of our favorites for getting in:
5) Feel more energized
Getting yourself into the Yoga room when it’s hot out can seem counterintuitive, however, you will find that you feel more acclimatized to the outside temperatures when you do. Most people feel more sluggish in the summer months as temperatures outside rise and the air gets sticky.
After a good Hot Yoga class, you will notice that you move easier throughout the day. The outside temperatures won’t bother you as much and you will feel more energized, just as you would in cooler months.
Practicing Hot Yoga gives you energy once you have established a regular practice. That doesn’t go away just because it’s hot outside of the yoga room.
In relaxation, you gain energy. In your practice of stillness, you gain relaxation.
The wisdom of this series doesn’t change just because the seasons did.
4) Your high performance sports activities improve
Part of the fun of summer is enjoying all of the activities outdoors and the nice weather, especially when your summers are short. This time is precious, so, we encourage you to enjoy everything you love.
Many of our students are runners, bikers, play tennis, golf, or sail. All of these activities are wonderful.
Your physical conditioning improves from practicing Hot Yoga. Especially when you are doing repetitive body movements that shorten certain muscle groups and connective tissue, it becomes even more important to work on your range of motion in a safe environment.
The heat of the yoga room combined with the postures can also prevent soreness. Sweating profusely in a hot room, helps to flush lactic acid in from your body. Sweat contains metabolic waste, including lactic acid. When you remove lactic acid from the body, you feel less sore and recover quicker from your other activities.
For those of you who have a long-standing yoga practice, you know that the physical benefits of practicing yoga are not just limited to”stretching”.
Yoga has been proven to improve your cardiovascular health (Here’s one blog from John Hopkins Medicine out of many publicly available online), the functioning of your endocrine system, and the health and strength of your joints. Hatha Yoga affects every system of your body.
It allows you to return to your natural state of high health.
3) Feel your best - and look your best, because you feel great!
By having a regular yoga practice, you will automatically feel at your best. If you practice, you probably know it from experience.
Beyond the physical, feeling your best also extends to your emotional well-being, your mental clarity and your general energy levels. All of these things are affected by maintaining consistency in practice.
Because you feel at your best, you will be your most beautiful self.
Your beauty radiates from within. When you move your body with strength and ease, it simply becomes easier to feel confident about yourself. Self care is sexy!
2) Sweating has health benefits too!
There are some interesting misconceptions about sweating out there.
Sweat glands release sweat to the skin, which evaporates and helps to keep the surface of your skin and your internal body temperature cool. Your body loves to be in homeostasis - it will do what it needs to do to be able to maintain balance.
Sweating is just your body’s way of cooling down.
Sweating more isn’t a bad thing. It just helps your body feel more comfortable, faster.
The risk of you being dehydrated is low in the summertime so long as you are mindful of drinking as much water as your body needs to be able to replenish.
As your body adjusts to a regular practice of Hot Yoga, your body makes certain adjustments, for example, increasing blood plasma or depleting fewer electrolytes as you sweat profusely. If you are newer to a hot yoga, you may need to add electrolytes to your water if you are not getting what you need from your food and are feeling depleted after class. You can always, always remember it's ok to do less in class too and take as many breaks as you need to.
Sweating regularly allows blood to move to the surface of skin. Even when you aren’t sweating, you get that beautiful youthful glow from within.
It is commonly debated whether sweating profusely does or doesn't detox heavy metals from the body, but a 2016 study by a Chinese University found that people who regularly exercised and sweated regularly had lower amounts of heavy metals in their bloodstream.
There are other benefits to sweating regularly, including improved immunity and cardiovascular health.
Here is another blog by the Wiseman Family Practice of Integrative Medicine that has some other info on the benefits of sweating.
Preventative Medicine it’s not just for the winter time
Recently, I was lucky to contribute to the yoga book, Within compiled and edited by Michael Harris. In the book, I wrote an essay about Yoga as Preventative Medicine for Body, Mind, and Soul.
The short version is, as you practice yoga, you build awareness that all affects all.
It doesn’t matter if you work first on your physical body, your mental, emotional body or your spiritual path. Everything in your life affects everything.
When you have reached the point in your yoga practice where you begin to recover from the aches and pains of day-to-day life, or of old injuries, of damaging thought patterns, your yoga practice becomes preventative medicine.
Because you begin living at one with your natural state of high health, you will start to experience that your practice becomes almost like a tuneup.
Any unexpected knocks that happen to your body, mind, heart or spirit will not throw you as much as they would otherwise.
You will be able to be present. As you practice being present, if you choose to, you can always remember how to choose the most peaceful or loving path.
All of that takes practice.
Your abilities to be mindful, to be present, to see joy or love in all things are qualities that are available to all people. However, if you don’t practice these things regularly, they don’t come to you as readily.
Part of the practice is to take everything in without judgement and choose how to respond.
Without yoga, it becomes easier to instead react to the world as it is happening.
These varied gifts that you teach yourself through yoga are always there for you, just easier to access when you are regularly practicing.
Of course, we are just happy whenever you come. We are grateful whenever you are able to make the time to walk in through our doors. It’s a miracle!
And hey, we get it. Chicago is beautiful in the summertime. We love being outside too. You could also just join us outside for a park yoga or beach yoga! Sign up here! We do it all summer long. It’s so much fun.
One year, my son brought water squirter’s to the beach, yoga classes. After class, everyone jumped into the lake and splashed around like children. It was beautiful and silly.
Just remember, feeling great, being at your best doesn’t have to be something that’s only relegated to when it’s cold outside.
It is important to make time for yourself. It is worth making time for yourself not only for yourself, but also for those in your life. When you start to live your life in a present, peaceful way it affects every person and every connection you have no matter how small.
See you soon!