Hot Yoga And Hot Saunas: The 3 Best Saunas For Yogis (2023)
I love doing yoga! Just like spending time in a sauna, it relaxes me, relieves stress and leaves me feeling energized and happy. We get a lot of questions about doing yoga in saunas, or hopping in a sauna before or after yoga. So we thought we'd spend some time today on the relationship between yoga and sauna and for those of you looking to actually do yoga in a sauna we have some recommendations for you.
The practice of Yoga is thousands of years old. Once known only by its practitioners in India, it has swept the world and continues to grow in popularity year after year. The reason is simple: as our lives become more complex faster and more stressful; people yearn for a way to connect mind and body, tune out the stress of their daily lives and feel and look better!
For decades now, the practice of hot yoga has grown in the United States. This practice takes traditional yoga practices but moves them into specialized studios where the temperature is kept a toasty 105 degrees. Sometimes, this practice is called “Bikram Yoga.” There are also different chain and local brands of hot yoga that go by various names.
As people sweat, they engage in yoga poses, and breathe in the hot, moist air. The benefits are increases in flexibility, and the detoxifying effect of intense sweating.
While some people are able to enjoy the practice of hot yoga in a studio, many are not. Not every town has a hot yoga studio. Even if they do, the cost may be more than what they want to spend on an ongoing basis.
Additionally, yoga classes can be intimidating for beginners. There are different etiquette rules to follow that they may not know about, and they may feel like they can’t keep up with the more experienced class members.
People searching for a way to do hot yoga without the hassles of going to a studio now have a great option: a large home sauna!
DOING YOGA IN A HOT SAUNA
While simply doing a warrior pose in your home sauna seems pretty straightforward, there are several things to keep in mind as you set up your home yoga studio or sauna!
Saunas really come in all shapes and sizes. There are different heat sources like infrared, wood, or electricity. There are different materials like cedar, poplar or basswood. Some are made for indoors and others can go outside.
To do yoga in a sauna you'll need to make sure the sauna itself is big enough, and that the heater doesn't take up too much room. The type of wood and whether it's an indoor sauna or outdoor sauna is up to you.
Below are some great sauna options that have enough space to move around, lay down a mat and do some yoga poses:
1. SaunaLife Barrel Saunas. These are the largest barrel sauna on the market. With a diameter of over seven feet you can do jumping jacks to warm up before yoga! Made from thermally treated spruce wood, this traditional sauna is perfect for yoga.
2. Almost Heaven Pinnacle 4 Person Barrel Sauna. This is a beautiful barrel sauna that is made in the USA and can be customized with different types of wood, doors, heaters, you name it. Large enough for some morning yoga, this is a lovely barrel sauna.
3. Golden Designs Monaco Elite GDI-6996-01 Near Zero EMF Infrared Sauna. Another large infrared sauna, the Monaco Elite comes with tiered seating and plenty of room for a yoga mat on the base level if you remove the first two benches.
TEMPERATURE AND HUMIDITY
While the standard temperature for hot yoga in a studio is 105 degrees Fahrenheit, an electric traditional sauna is going to get up to 190 degrees Fahrenheit. Given the super hot temperature in a traditional sauna, Just keep in mind that it's unlikely you'll be doing an entire yoga class like you would at a 105 degree studio. Sit a bit, then do a couple of poses and sit down again. Next time, build up a little bit more and try pushing the poses just a little bit longer each time. And make sure you pay attention to how you're feeling.
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
Remember that hot yoga, or sauna yoga, isn’t supposed to be comfortable. The extreme heat is uncomfortable, but this is part of the process - the best part of the process. The discomfort is part of growing, strengthening and focusing.
However, it's important to listen to your body! You have to know the difference between pushing through some discomfort, and actually becoming dizzy or weak from doing too much. Doing yoga in a sauna isn’t right for everyone. Check with your doctor if you are pregnant or have other medical conditions that may make breathing difficult.
Breathing is so important in yoga and in sauna. Breathe in a controlled and focused manner: slow, deep and steady while you move through your poses. If you breathe shallow and quickly it's possible to become dizzy and faint, especially with the high heat of the sauna. If you're having difficulty maintaining slow, deep breaths, you're probably overdoing it. So hop out of the sauna, take a break, drink some water, cool off and get back in when you're ready!
Doing yoga in a sauna will make you sweat a lot - like a lot a lot!
There will be wayyyyyy more sweating than a trip to the sauna where you just sit there. It's super important you replace these fluids. So bring a huge bottle of ice cold water with you and drink away. Flushing your body with water also increases the detoxifying effect of taking a sauna and doing yoga. Rehydrate both during and after your session.
HAVE A BUDDY
While it's fine to do yoga by yourself in your sauna (in fact, the peace and solitude is what attracts many people to the practice in the first place) it's a good idea to check in with a friend or loved one so they can keep an eye out on you in case you pass out. Not likely, but better to err on the side of caution here, at least the first couple types you do yoga in your sauna.
BENEFITS OF DOING YOGA IN YOUR SAUNA
The abdominal and back muscles that make up our core are vital for good posture, back injury prevention and an overall sense of confidence and well being.
Yoga is one of the top functional fitness methods that builds core strength. As you stand in unbalanced, awkward poses, you are forced to engage your core muscles to stay upright. They are constantly firing off to keep your balance. This results in amazing benefits that will stay with you all day long. Performing these challenging poses in a sauna only increases the level of difficulty and gets you stronger and stronger.
The intense sweating will clean your pores and help your body detoxify from all the impurities in the food you eat and liquids you drink (especially booze). Make sure to drink plenty of clean, pure water to flush out those toxins before, during and after your yoga sauna session.
As we age, our muscles stiffen. The best way to prevent this is through regular stretching and activity. The intense heat of the sauna loosens those muscles even more, allowing your yoga poses to work better, giving you an increased range of motion. Dancers, runners, golfers and just about everyone else will see better performance after doing hot yoga in a sauna, regardless of your skill level.
Stress Relief & Focus
As your mind focuses on the poses, and as you deliberately breathe deeply and slowly, you tune out all the stresses of your life. You can focus on what is right now in the moment. The benefits of doing hot yoga in a sauna will be felt long after you leave the sauna and cool off!
Yoga and Sauna are both thousand-plus year old practices with the intention to focus the mind and body in the present moment, to reduce stress and anxiety and to promote the systems in our bodies that keep us thriving, the nervous system, digestive system and cardiovascular system.
Two completely different approaches and disciplines, yoga and sauna complement each other really well. Just like most things in life, the key is to start slow, add on as you get better and take breaks when you need to. Before you know it you'll be some kind of Jedi-Yogi Sauna Master who does handstands in 200 degree weather!
Wes McMahon, Founder, Sun Valley Saunas