Yoga is a form of meditation; it is letting go, freeing your mind, being in the moment, and connecting with that quiet place in your body and soul we are so often distracted from. Yoga is about relaxation, breathing, stretching and developing the core strength of your physiology–especially the heart. Yoga is not meant to be a rigorous exercise, it is not meant to be strenuous, and it is not difficult. Yoga is not a sport, it is not competitive and has nothing to do with the person in front or behind you in class—yoga is you—and only about you.
“You cannot do yoga. Yoga is your natural state. What you can do are yoga exercises, which may reveal to you where you are resisting your natural state. ” –Sharon Gannon
My various experiences with different forms of yoga have led me to weigh the pros and cons of each type. Throughout the years I have seen people sustain minor and major injuries from yoga, and extreme exhaustion imprinted upon people’s faces, especially after practices like hot yoga. I personally went through a phase of experimenting with hot yoga, only to eventually find it was actually harming my body.
According to India’s scientific definition of yoga, practicing in temperatures above 105 degrees Fahrenheit is not considered yoga. Yoga movements are called “asanas”; an asana is defined as a “steady and comfortable posture or position.” Comfortable positions are only attained when the physiology is in a natural environment. If you have even a semi-sensitive physiology, or have a tendency towards week adrenal glands, hot yoga and Bikram yoga could produce adverse effects.
Rushi Dharmajyoti uses a comparative example in his article, Hot Yoga or Yoga in a Heated Environment can be Dangerous, when we have a fever our body is using heat as a natural protective mechanism since many of the body’s reactions are accelerated by heat. Heat speeds up the heart rate, dilates the blood vessels, and allows for perspiration, which purifies the body. However, simultaneously, the body has very little energy to waste. This is also comparable to being outside on a very hot summer day; it is exhausting for the body to be in the heat for even a short period of time.
“Life is very difficult in regions where temperatures are as high as 48 degrees Celsius, so why create such difficult condition around and practice yoga there? Isn’t it a common sense not to create worse situations for body?” –Rushi Dharmajyoti
I began doing yoga about five years ago. After taking many different types of classes, including hot yoga and other rigorous classes, I have finally found most satisfaction in doing my own non-strenuous yoga practice at home, at the park, or at the gym. Although I am not a yoga teacher (but hope to be someday), I have gained enough knowledge and experience from taking professional yoga classes that I now have the ability to lead myself through my own exercise. Yoga puts me at ease unlike anything else, and is one of the only activities I can do where I feel fully open to my Self, my heart, soul and body. I am grateful for my many experiences had with yoga, both good and bad; they have taught me its true essence and now I can help to make others aware of the same.
If you are interested in reading more about what I’m talking about, take a peek at these wonderful articles: