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Natural Awakenings Northwest Florida

When You’re Hot, You’re Hot: Hot Yoga Resonates with Men

May 31, 2015 09:28AM ● By Daralyn Chase

Hunter Pate, Hawaii

When men think of fitness, they may imagine a power lifting routine or heavy weight training, with loads of protein, creatine and caffeine that may give them buffed muscle, but also lead to nagging muscle injuries and feeling sluggish and sick the rest of the day. Many may dismiss their gym’s yoga class as a practice more suited for women, similar to dance and gymnastics—a less intense option that certainly won’t get them into the same shape as their barbells and squat machines.

However, the benefits of hot yoga take it all to the next level. New practitioners are often surprised at how fast their core strength can be increased and the amazing vibrant health that is rapidly achieved through a regular hot yoga practice.

In 500 B.C., the Greek physician Parmenides believed that if he could create fever, he could cure all illness. It has been known for centuries that heat treatment has been beneficial, and its first documented use dates back to 400 B.C., with Hippocrates. Hot yoga originated from a practice known as Bikram yoga, created in the early 1970s by Bikram Choudhury. Unlike other styles, Bikram comprises the same 26 poses, or asanas, but is practiced in a room heated to a temperature of 100 degrees or more for 90 minutes.

Nowadays, hot yoga is practiced in many forms, and the result is a workout like no other. Hot yoga has been embraced by thousands of people, from sports enthusiasts to those suffering ailments or that just want to stay fit. Weight control, muscle tone, healthy-looking skin and reduced stress are some of the many rewards of hot yoga.

Hunter Pate is a kite-boarding instructor and extreme surfer in Hawaii. After falling almost 40 feet from the sky and crushing bones in both feet, he discovered hot yoga as a practice that offered immediate soothing and relaxation to his tight, inflamed muscles and joints. He explains that this practice allowed him to get the maximum benefits from yoga for complete body healing. Pate says he was back up and running and earning a living doing what he loves best in less than six months, and because of that, he is grateful for the healing he attributes to hot yoga.

In hot yoga, internal organs and glands are gently massaged and the heated room ensures that participants sweat, helping them to flush toxins out of their system. In this intense cardiovascular workout, fresh, oxygenated blood is brought into every part of the body, cleansing and rejuvenating the entire system. The heat itself is a form of cardiovascular conditioning. Pate explains as he demonstrates a certain pose, “It took me several years to be able to touch my head to my knee in this posture, but if you can get that to eventfully happen, it help flushes the toxins from your pancreas and liver, which aids to decrease the inflammation and helped me heal that much quicker.”

Felicia McQuaid and Laura Tyree recently opened the Om Hot Yoga Studio, in Ft. Walton Beach, with a strategy of combining less-intense, more relaxing yoga with the benefits of infrared heat.

Additional responses to the heat include stimulation of white blood cell production and boosting the immune system for an increase in healing injuries and decrease in disease symptoms. Research by the American Cancer Society shows the benefits of increasing body heat, or hyperthermia, when the body’s temperature is raised to 100 degrees.

The ability of these high temperatures to destroy a small area of cells such as a tumor is called local hyperthermia, or thermal ablation. The temperature of one part of the body (or even whole body) is raised to a higher than normal level— not hot enough to kill the cells directly, but able to allow other types of cancer treatments, such as radiation therapy, immunotherapy or chemotherapy, to work better. This is known as either regional hyperthermia or whole body hyperthermia.

"If you feel emotional in camel pose, that's very good. The reason is that you are opening and stretching your heart muscle,” says Pate. Also, experiencing intense euphoria after finishing a hot yoga session is not unusual. More men are discovering that a committed hot yoga practice enhances their stability, improves balance and flexibility and leaves them stronger, healthier, more energized and centered.

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