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   news News of medicine. 2010 | Archive
 
 

This yoga style dials up the heat

 
 

01/08/2010
If you are seeking a way to reduce your stress, yoga might be the path to serenity you seek. Through a series of poses, stretches and depending on the style, yoga can offer a mental escape and an infusion of calm to the body. But stress reduction is not the only advantage to the centuries-old exercise that connects the mind, body and spirit.

Teachers and students alike tout yoga's myriad benefits. Beyond reducing stress, yoga promotes weight loss, improves spinal flexibility, strengthens the heart, increases energy, increases lung capacity and removes toxins from the body. For all the benefits, there are as many styles. There's hatha, vinyasa, ashtanga, inyengar, Holy yoga and even laughter yoga, just to name a few. Then for those yoga loyalists who like it hot, there is hot yoga. Hot yoga is performed in a heated room, usually about 95 or 100 degrees.

The high temperature is believed to help lubricate and loosen muscles and allow for profuse perspiration, which aids the detox process. A string of 26 yoga poses are done in two sets during a 90-minute session. At Tadasana Yoga, the only hot yoga center in Dutchess County, hot yoga is the most popular of the offered styles and is based on the Barkan Method, a style created by Jimmy Barkan that blends Hatha yoga with poses from other yoga styles. Tadasana means "mountain pose" in Sanskrit, a sacred language used in Hinduism and Buddhism.

"We offer classic vinyasa and ashtanga but the bulk of our classes are hot yoga," said owner Roberta McGinley, who has taught yoga for six years and trained under Barkan. Some people cannot deal with the heat and choose vinyasa or ashtanga, but hot yoga is detoxifying and sweating actually cools you, McGinley explained. She said the heat allows for a greater range of motion and lowers the risk of injury. "Hot yoga is like putting fire under glass. When you put fire under glass, the glass molds. It's the same idea if the body is heated. It reaches its maximum benefits," McGinley said. McGinley said hot yoga is like moving meditation.

She compared it to hiking Mount Beacon or running a marathon, but the after-effects are the biggest "You have to find a quiet place in your mind. And afterward, you feel really good," McGinley said. McGinley said though hot yoga can be challenging, it's for all levels and said her classes include students of all ages, sizes and skill levels. She even has students in their 70s.

"We teach to all levels, we nurture our students, we teach you how to do each pose at your own level. Consistency in your practice will raise your comfort level," McGinley said. Dr. Ravi Ramaswami is medical director at the Saugerties Wellness Center, which designs integrated medical care plans for people including yoga, herbal therapy, acupuncture, massage and chiropractics. "Yoga is very beneficial in several respects. Apart from reducing stress, lowering blood pressure, restoring immune systems, it also increases awareness, focus and helps get rid of stress.

It's an extremely valuable adjunct to any wellness program," Ramaswami said. Better results Nichole Ferro, a 22-year-old Dutchess Community College student who holds down two part-time jobs, has a busy schedule but manages to squeeze in three sessions at Tadasana each week. The Fishkill resident tried hot yoga nearly a year ago and was hooked from the first class. "I loved it from day one. It is a cardio workout, but it also is good for your mind. You are on your mat, and you're focused on you and nothing else. It is relaxing and relieving. I'd go more often if I could," Ferro said.

Ferro said her yoga classes have replaced her trips to the gym for the most part because the results have been so tangible — and rewarding. "I feel like my body is actually better since I started yoga. It has really trimmed me down in areas I never did when I went to the gym and it has toned my butt, stomach and legs," Ferro said. Tadasana offers classes seven days a week, including 6 a.m. classes some days for those who need an early morning wake-up call more jolting than a cup of java. The goal of traditional yoga is to get samadhi, or inward enlightenment, but Ramaswami said there is no universal method of yoga. It depends on individuals' desires and their comfort leves.  

But stress reduction is not the only advantage to the centuries-old exercise that connects the mind, body and spirit. Teachers and students alike tout yoga's myriad benefits. Beyond reducing stress, yoga promotes weight loss, improves spinal flexibility, strengthens the heart, increases energy, increases lung capacity and removes toxins from the body. For all the benefits, there are as many styles. There's hatha, vinyasa, ashtanga, inyengar, Holy yoga and even laughter yoga, just to name a few. Then for those yoga loyalists who like it hot, there is hot yoga. Hot yoga is performed in a heated room, usually about 95 or 100 degrees.

The high temperature is believed to help lubricate and loosen muscles and allow for profuse perspiration, which aids the detox process. A string of 26 yoga poses are done in two sets during a 90-minute session. At Tadasana Yoga, the only hot yoga center in Dutchess County, hot yoga is the most popular of the offered styles and is based on the Barkan Method, a style created by Jimmy Barkan that blends Hatha yoga with poses from other yoga styles. Tadasana means "mountain pose" in Sanskrit, a sacred language used in Hinduism and Buddhism.

"We offer classic vinyasa and ashtanga but the bulk of our classes are hot yoga," said owner Roberta McGinley, who has taught yoga for six years and trained under Barkan. Some people cannot deal with the heat and choose vinyasa or ashtanga, but hot yoga is detoxifying and sweating actually cools you, McGinley explained. She said the heat allows for a greater range of motion and lowers the risk of injury. "Hot yoga is like putting fire under glass. When you put fire under glass, the glass molds. It's the same idea if the body is heated. It reaches its maximum benefits," McGinley said.

McGinley said hot yoga is like moving meditation. She compared it to hiking Mount Beacon or running a marathon, but the after-effects are the biggest reward. (2 of 3) "You have to find a quiet place in your mind. And afterward, you feel really good," McGinley said. McGinley said though hot yoga can be challenging, it's for all levels and said her classes include students of all ages, sizes and skill levels. She even has students in their 70s. "We teach to all levels, we nurture our students, we teach you how to do each pose at your own level. Consistency in your practice will raise your comfort level," McGinley said.

Dr. Ravi Ramaswami is medical director at the Saugerties Wellness Center, which designs integrated medical care plans for people including yoga, herbal therapy, acupuncture, massage and chiropractics. "Yoga is very beneficial in several respects. Apart from reducing stress, lowering blood pressure, restoring immune systems, it also increases awareness, focus and helps get rid of stress. It's an extremely valuable adjunct to any wellness program," Ramaswami said. Better resultsNichole Ferro, a 22-year-old Dutchess Community College student who holds down two part-time jobs, has a busy schedule but manages to squeeze in three sessions at Tadasana each week.

The Fishkill resident tried hot yoga nearly a year ago and was hooked from the first class. "I loved it from day one. It is a cardio workout, but it also is good for your mind. You are on your mat, and you're focused on you and nothing else. It is relaxing and relieving. I'd go more often if I could," Ferro said. Ferro said her yoga classes have replaced her trips to the gym for the most part because the results have been so tangible — and rewarding. "I feel like my body is actually better since I started yoga. It has really trimmed me down in areas I never did when I went to the gym and it has toned my butt, stomach and legs," Ferro said.

Tadasana offers classes seven days a week, including 6 a.m. classes some days for those who need an early morning wake-up call more jolting than a cup of java. The goal of traditional yoga is to get samadhi, or inward enlightenment, but Ramaswami said there is no universal method of yoga. It depends on individuals' desires and their comfort leves. Some have questioned the safety of hot yoga because participants are in an extremely warm environment for an extended period, but no evidence has been found to substantiate these concerns.Ramaswami does not think hot yoga is a dangerous activity. He said many people do it who are not in tip-top shape.

"There are no dangerous drawbacks, but it may not suit everyone. It (hot yoga) can cause medical issues for some people because it can elevate the heart rate and the metabolic rate goes up. When you're in a hot room with a lot of people, the whole room temperature goes up, but it won't cause a heat stroke or anything," Ramaswami said. Individualizing a yoga program to suit personal preference is important, Ramaswami said, and hot yoga practitioners should be in general good physical condition — especially people who are new to yoga. He recommends novice yoga practitioners start off gently and get comfortable with yoga. McGinley said no matter what pose you strike, "it's all good" for the body.

"Your body gets leaner, it rinses your brain out, and rinses your body out at the same time," McGinley said.

 
   
 

poughkeepsiejournal.com

 
 
 
 
 
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