SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Relaxing music, low lights, specific instructions, in a sweltering room – 90 to 105 degrees.
“One thing the heated studio does is it helps with circulation,” said hot yoga instructor Rana Jones. “The more you can get that nutrient-rich blood through, the more energy that you have. If people are not comfortable in particular poses, if they’re feeling cold, it helps with warming up.
Jones has been a yoga instructor for about seven years, the last five teaching hot yoga.
We caught one of her classes at S.W.E.T. Hot Yoga and Fitness Studio in Springfield, where owner Bethany Fite says they use infrared heat in their hot yoga classes.
“It is paneled in the ceiling, and it heats objects versus the air, so it feels more like the sun,” Fite said. “It helps with increased circulation and can help your skin look better.”
In addition, Jones says the benefits of hot yoga stretch beyond the mat.
“It helps you with mobility,” she said. “I don’t ever feel like my joints ache; I don’t ever feel like I can’t bend down into a squat to garden or do something for my kids.”
Over time, Jones says those benefits improve your quality of life, which Fite says is where fitness is about
“It’s moved into taking care of yourself,” she said.
But that’s not to say you won’t get some physical changes as well.
“If you are moving in a vinyasa class where it’s breath to movement, you are getting quite a bit of a workout, and you are burning a lot of calories, so it’s great for weight control,” she said.
No matter your fitness level, Jones says you go with the flow and modify as you go.
“I have seen specifically people with a knee injury, a shoulder injury, even if you have a shoulder injury and don’t want to go into a particular pose, we can modify it into your forearms,” she said.
And, most importantly, though, she says don’t take yourself too seriously and if for any other reason, do it for fun.
“It’s not supposed to be serious,” she said. “It’s supposed to be relaxed. It’s supposed to be fun.”
And one breath at a time, for some, hot yoga can be healing in other ways, too.
“We’ve had some moving testimonies from people saying that this has changed their life,” Fite said. “It’s helped them with P.T.S.D. It’s helped them with the grieving process. It’s been eye-opening for me. I thought we were going to help people get in shape, stay in shape, build flexibility. But the mental aspects that we have been able to help people has been amazing.”