At Urban Flow we teach a style of vinyasa yoga known as Bhakti Flow. Many of our classes are taught in a heated, but not stifling, environment. We occasionally get asked what the heat is all about, so we wanted to take a moment to share the philosophy and also some of the specifics of practicing yoga in a heated room.
Please consult with your healthcare provider before beginning any new exercise program.
There are a lot of reasons why we choose to practice yoga in a heated room. The heat helps our bodies warm up (sort of like stretching before running) and makes it easier to get deeper into postures more safely. In our experience, the many benefits of practicing yoga asana are amplified by doing so in the heat. Sweating helps us clean out our systems, because toxins are carried to the surface of the skin in sweat, where they float magically away during the process of evaporation.
The heat also:
Another subtle effect of the heat that you don’t always hear about is that it actually helps us concentrate and stay in the moment. The intensity of practicing in a warm room is hard to ignore, and (at least in our experience) this helps our minds wander less. Since yoga is about staying present in the moment, the heat can function as our ally in this way.
By far the biggest reason we practice yoga in a heated room? Because it feels good! Sometimes the warmth can be intense, and the sweating messy, but it feels so, so wonderful to purify our bodies in a heated practice (and then go home and take a nice rinse). Heated yoga isn’t for everyone, but many people find that after an initial adjustment period they never want to go back to “cold” yoga.On the other end of the spectrum, sometimes students get so addicted to the heat that they can’t enjoy their practice unless they are really en fuego. To all, we say, experiment with the middle path!
Our thermostat is never set above 90 degrees, and most classes never even reach that temperature. However, because we are all working and sweating together, it can get pretty humid in there, which can make it feel hotter. The good news? A moisture-filled room actually encourages us to sweat more which — you guessed it — means more cleansing and detoxifying.
Often, in our more crowded classes, we don’t turn on the heaters at all, and instead let our collective practice heat up the room naturally. This is our favorite kind of heat: tapas generated by students breathing and flowing in their practice.
Here are a few guidelines to help you find the right place to practice in the room, depending on how much heat you like.
The yoga room has six heating vents, so if you like it hot, aim to place your mat in their line of fire. (Pun intended!) In addition, because of the way the air circulates, the center of the room tends to get nice and toasty, while the edges stay cooler, partly due to inherent drafts from the doors and windows. If you prefer less heat, gravitate toward the periphery of the room — especially along the windows. Never hesitate to ask a teacher or assistant to help you find the right spot. We are here to serve you in your practice!
We encourage you to stay hydrated — particularly before you come to class. We have a high-tech hydration station in the lobby where you can fill up your water bottle before class, but we definitely advise you to drink water well in advance of your practice. We also encourage students to bring their own clean enviro-friendly canteens/bottles, but we have complimentary small cups available.
Some traditions discourage drinking water while practicing yoga. We aren’t dogmatic at Urban Flow, but it can be a challenge to sip your water while we're flowing vigorously. If you need to drink water during class, be mindful when doing so. And try not to put out the fire by drinking too much!Make sure you drink water after class too. Getting adequate intake of liquids is a pivotal part of benefiting from your Bhakti Flow practice.
If you have any doubt, and as always before beginning a new exercise program, please consult your doctor for a “second opinion” before you launch into a heated yoga habit. Once you’ve joined us, here are some uncommon but important things to look out for when practicing in the heat: