Woman enjoying combined yoga and IR sauna benefits

Maximising IR Sauna Benefits: Combining Hot Yoga and Sauna

Yoga doesn’t simply help improve flexibility. Studies have found that the practice can also help improve your cardiovascular, mental, and bone health among many other benefits. So it’s no wonder that it has become a mainstream wellness practice. In Australia alone, Statista reports that over 1.4 million Australians over the age of 15 participated in yoga in 2023.  As the practice grew more popular over the years, many iterations have since cropped up combining it with other wellness practices. One of those involves hot yoga, which can be performed in traditional saunas or infrared saunas. At Sun Stream Saunas Australia, we’ll discuss IR sauna benefits, and how it can benefit your overall health. 

 

What is Hot Yoga?

Hot yoga is an intense yoga style performed in a warm or heated room in temperatures between 80 – 100°F or 26.6 – 37.7°C. This is meant to replicate the hot temperature in India where yoga originated. Combined with the effort of exertion, the heat helps draw out toxins from the body and other health benefits. 

It is often confused with Bikram yoga which is also held in heated rooms or studios, however, hot yoga is more individualized. It is also more flexible rather than having to follow a rigid set of poses. Additionally, while all Bikram practice is hot, not all hot yoga is Bikram. 

 

Benefits of Combining Hot Yoga and Infrared Sauna Sessions

Unlike traditional saunas which heat the air around you, infrared saunas increase your body temperature directly. Infrared sauna temperatures can also be set lower than the usual sauna allowing you to stay there longer. This added heat can make the practice of yoga more challenging but the benefits can be worth it, especially if you’re looking to strengthen yourself in the areas outlined below.

Improves Cardiovascular Strength

Working out in higher-than-room-average temperatures pushes your heart, lungs, and muscles to work harder. Meanwhile, getting into the yoga poses stimulates circulation. Together, these can strengthen your heart muscles. This is well demonstrated by a study in 2018 that found that hot yoga improved plasma volume and cardiovascular performance in elite female hockey players. 

Improves Mental Health

Studies have found that yoga is an effective practice to help with mental health issues. Much like other exercises, it triggers the feel-good chemicals in the brain like dopamine and endorphins. It’s also been found that it is just as effective in easing depression as medication or psychotherapy. 

Much like yoga, many studies have also shown that infrared saunas can help with a variety of mental health issues. In 2018, one such study recorded that a 16-week Bikram yoga program for sedentary and stressed individuals yielded great results. Participants said it improved their stress, self-efficacy, and health-related quality of life. Together, they can provide a refreshing experience for both your mind and body.

Improves Flexibility

Other combined yoga and IR sauna benefits include improved flexibility. In warm to hot temperatures, your blood vessels are dilated improving blood circulation to your muscles. This allows you to feel more loose and warmed up so you can better move your body without risk of injury. 

In 2019, a study recorded that sauna yoga improved the flexibility, strength, and balance of healthy older adults. This is due to the fact that aside from the heat, most of the moves in yoga also work by stretching your muscles. Consistent practice can help your muscles become more flexible and improve your overall mobility. 

Burns More Calories

In a normal yoga session, a 160-pound person can burn around 183 calories. But when you’re in hot yoga, your body will be working harder overall because of the heat leading you to burn more calories. Researchers at Colorado State University found that in a 90-minute Bikram yoga session, men can burn as much as 440 calories while women can burn around 330 calories. 

Helps Build Bone Density

Aside from building your muscle strength, hot yoga can also help build your bone density, especially as you age. This is because many yoga postures will have you supporting your own weight for extended periods of time. This, in turn, encourages the build-up of bone density, however, this occurs over years and not just months of consistent practice. This can be demonstrated by a study in 2014 of women who participated in Bikram yoga for over 5 years that found they developed increased bone density in their neck, lower back, and hips. 

 

How to Prepare for Your Hot Yoga Session

Before entering the sauna, it’s important to warm up your muscles and joints to prevent injuries and get deeper stretches. Warming up will also get your blood flowing and help prepare your body for the added heat. 

Wearing the right clothing is also essential. Opt for lightweight clothing that will allow you to move freely, for your skin to breathe, and for the sweat to evaporate. 

While you’re in the midst of the session, take note of your breathing. The heat can make it rapid and shallow which can cause lightheadedness or dizziness. So focus on taking slow, deep breaths and to synchronise each movement with an inhale and exhale. Not only will this help you perform the poses better but it will also help you keep your focus and calm. 

Last but not least, keep yourself hydrated. You’ll be sweating profusely so it’s vital that you replenish the fluids you lose in the session. Drink plenty of water throughout the day of your session and around 30 minutes before and after your practice.

If you’re looking for more tips to maximise your IR sauna benefits or looking to purchase your own infrared home sauna, reach out to us today and let us help you make the right call.