Yoga has become very popular over the past few decades and purports many health benefits. One of the main benefits of yoga is that it is a practice you can take anywhere with you – some prefer an outdoor practice, while others like to visit heated studios. For many, practicing yoga in a heated room provides deeper postures, and studies suggest that performing yoga in a heated room has many benefits to overall health. As a sauna company we receive calls from yogis all the time wondering if they can practice yoga in a sauna, and the answer is YES!
Until recently, it has not been easy to find a sauna that would facilitate your yoga practice. Many saunas are simply too small or have fixed benches that prevent any modifications to make the area large enough to partake in any physical practice. Our company, which was founded by two yogis, is proud to offer two sauna models with removable benches to provide you with ample space to practice yoga. Both the Lotus Haven and Lotus Temple saunas make it possible to have your very own heated yoga studio at home.
A study published by the National Library of Medicine: National Center For Biotechnical Information, in March of 2021, revealed positive results in the change of biomarkers in individuals performing yoga in a heated environments, including ‘Hot Yoga’ or Bikram style yoga*. These results included improved range of motion, reduced systemic inflammation, cardiovascular fitness enhancement, and positive changes in body composition. (1)
*** For the purposes of this article we will be using the terminology of ‘heated yoga’ as opposed to ‘Hot Yoga’, the syntax of which was attempted to be patented by the individual Bikram to refer to a very specific sequence of 26 yoga postures, while the patent was eventually denied, for the sake of clarity, this article will use the expression ‘heated yoga’ in lieu of ‘hot yoga. (2)
The coupling of yoga and sauna therapy seems to be a match made in heaven in terms of human physiology. Whether you intend to practice a more physical style of yoga or simply breathe with awareness while in the sauna, this pairing is something that can be done from the safety and sanctity of your own home.
What Are Some of the Benefits of Heated Yoga Combined With Infrared Light?
- Increased Range of Motion
- Detoxification (Through Intense Perspiration)
- Improved Cardiovascular Function
- Weight Loss or Body Mass Composition Changes
- Faster Muscle Recovery
- Improved Mitochondrial Function (which may directly improve chronic conditions resulting from mitochondrial malfunction). (3)
Heated yoga combines the cascade of benefits that are supported by both the practices of sauna bathing and yoga. While only a few yoga studios have made the change to infrared light as a heating source, it has not caught on fully in all regions, with many studios still reliant on electric heaters.
By using an infrared sauna for your heated yoga practice you are able to capitalize on the benefits of heat, as well as those of infrared light. In your sauna as you practice yoga along with a stabilized elongated breath, you will be engaging different muscle groups, and the body will be cooling itself through perspiration. This process creates a cascade of internal biochemical changes: Essential biomarkers demonstrate an amplification of the oxygenation of the body’s intra and inter cellular environment. (3)
Infrared light corresponds to photoreceptors that are embedded within a microscopic membrane that surrounds the mitochondria of each cell, and this very unique relationship helps to positively affect mitochondrial metabolism. (3)
The National Library of Medicine published an article on the effects of far infrared light (FIR) on mitochondrial metabolism on rodents that was published in March of 2021:
“Far-infrared rays enhance mitochondrial biogenesis…(3)” This article describes the impactful results of infrared light exposure on rodents, and its potential clinical application for humans:
“These results suggest that FIR may hold therapeutic potential for improving glucose metabolism and mitochondrial function in metabolic diseases associated with insufficient glucose supply, such as type 2 diabetes.” (3)
By practicing yoga in an infrared sauna, an individual is able to obtain the benefits of infrared light and heat exposure. The exact type of yoga you choose to practice in your sauna is a personal choice: Hatha, Yin, Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Kundalini, as well as various pranayama or breathing practices, does not appear to be a significant factor in the improvement of health benefits reaped. Go ahead and practice whatever type of yoga best suits your body! (Please note: holotropic breathing is NOT recommended while in a sauna or any heated environment).
Improved circulation while doing yoga in a heated environment also provides a multitude of rewards. As the body begins to heat up from the sauna, the cardiovascular system is engaged in order to self regulate internal body temperature, resulting in an increased pulse as blood is pumped through the chambers of the heart at a faster rate. In conjunction with postures that open the body up, circulation already propelled by increased heat is able to flow like a river, without blockage moving through the body to ultimately decrease acute and chronic inflammation. (4)
Furthermore, by using an infrared sauna to heat up the environment of your yoga practice, an individual may also improve the condition of certain chronic diseases. The same study published in 2021 referred to earlier in this article explains the effect that infrared light has on mitochondria succinctly here:
“Mitochondria are cellular organelles present in high numbers in the brain, liver, heart, and muscles. They use glucose and fatty acids to synthesize ATP as an energy source for cellular function. Mitochondrial dysfunction is implicated in cardiovascular disease, aging, metabolic disease, cancer, and degenerative diseases. (3)
The marriage of yoga and infrared sauna therapy is symbiotically beneficial for those with the appropriate fitness levels. Even if the physical postures of yoga are not available to individuals due to injury or disease, there is still great merit in focused, elongated breathing while in the sauna to benefit from the heat and light.
Why Practice Heated Yoga in the Privacy of Your Own Home?
- Avoid potential bacterial infection
- Practice on your own schedule
- No commute
- Post practice procedures may be more relaxing
- A plethora of guided yoga practices can be listened to over the Bluetooth speakers
Practicing yoga at a studio can provide many benefits including hands-on instruction, comradery, discipline, and structure. If you plan to practice heated yoga there are, unfortunately, several risks associated with doing this in a public setting.
Despite efforts to keep the space clean, many heated yoga studios may still be a cesspool of infection. With so many bodies sweating in a shared, steamy room, heated yoga studios have reported issues with ringworm, foot fungus, and other pathogens that bloom and spread readily in warm moist environments.
With so many instructional audio classes available for beginners or the seasoned practitioner, heated yoga can safely be done in your home sauna. Side step the potential bacterial infections that may be associated with some heated yoga studios by practicing heated yoga in your at home sauna.
In addition to dodging germs and infection, you will also benefit from the rays of infrared heat. If you are interested in an in-person instruction, perhaps consider a non-heated yoga studio and then bring that learning back home to your sauna.
Contraindications & Considerations Before Practicing Yoga in Your Sauna
Before engaging in any yoga practice, remember to check in with your healthcare provider, listen to your body, and if you are unsure of how to safely execute a posture, skip it.
Maintain a high level of hydration if you plan to practice yoga in your sauna. Significant sweating occurs even if one remains still during a sauna session. When yoga postures are added, you will need to be hypervigilant in your hydration practice as you will sweat more.
Be cognizant to wipe dripping sweat off the body, and keep the floor surface dry and slip free. Be mindful to clean your sauna space after use with non-toxic cleaning products.