Hot yoga for athletes

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by Kali Ray Torres, Yoga Instructor

azfamily.com

Posted on November 11, 2010 at 9:31 AM

Updated Thursday, Nov 11 at 12:25 PM

"Practice and all is coming." - Sri K. Pattabhi Jois
 
With many styles of yoga to choose from and various hybrid classes out on the market, the days of the same old boring exercise routine, are over! Most gyms offer yoga classes with an array of options so lengthy, new students often ask, "what's the difference between Hot Yoga, Vinyasa, and Hatha yoga?" If your confused at the sight of the list of options, don't be weary, yoga is like finding the perfect hat. A practice that comes in many styles is suited to meet the practitioner where they are. That's the good news! Depending on your fitness level, background and experience, you may find that taking a few different classes will help you to discover what the best fit is for you. What is most important is that you trust your instincts, take it slow and always modify to support your body's needs. The key to choosing the right class for you is being clear about your intentions and that starts with active listening. You made need a more active practie one day(yang) and a more passive practice the next(yin). Your body is equipped with an internal compass, this is your guide-post in selecting a program that meets your needs. When you are clear about your intentions, you can then select the yoga that supports that intention (see style explanation below). Today our focus is the practice of Hot Yoga and how this style supports the intention behind fitness training and conditioning. The typical athlete or fitness minded individual is looking to achieve some of the following:
 
• strength
• flexibility
• muscle definition
• relief from sore joints
• focus
• stamina
• endurance
• discipline
• diligence
• weight-loss
• balance
• energy
• clarity
• joy
• good form/alignment
• confidence
• deeper sleep/restfulness
• self-respect
• relaxation
• courage
• completion of tasks/goals
• enlightenment
 
 
There are many paths on the yoga mat that can deliver these benefits. Hot Yoga is a class that supports you where you are and allows all levels of practitioner to be guided safely and with clear direction. The room is heated to 90+ temperatures and the class format is likened to Bikram's series of 26 postures. This series is great for both beginners and advanced practitioners. The heated room supports opening up tighter muscles, creating more ease in mobility, as well as the positive impact of sweating out toxins (supporting all of the systems of the body). When the body releases toxins, the body is rid of chemicals and substances that get trapped in the blood, this then allows for a more Prana filled body, one that is super oxygenated, supporting all of the functions of training off the mat as well. Runners, know the power of the "runner's high," swimmers know the feeling of having that extra bit of endurance and those who weight train are able to see the benefits of good form and strengthening smaller muscle groups. The intense heat helps keep the body safe and the mind focused. Hot Yoga will challenge the practitioner to greet the "edge," the place where stamina, endurance and confidence begin to peak. Over time, one acquires an ability to adjust to ranges of temperature and breath work is employed as a tool to support staying in what athletes often call "the zone."  The capacity to listen on a more subtle level increases, ones senses are heightened and even in the midst of deep sensation and discomfort, a stamina will begin to permeate, allowing one to go deeper hold the postures with ease.  The work of the practitioner is to keep showing up regardless of the outcome and to focus more on staying consistent with practice. Over time, the aforementioned goals are absolutely attainable. I have personally witnessed the changes that participants have made both on the mat and in their lives. From completing marathons to re-habilitation from injuries, students share each and every day, the powerful ways in which their lives and their athletic training has improved. Hot Yoga is great for athletes, because it provides the necessary tools to support any other activity. Focus is the key to much of the success we are able to achieve on the mat and in the world. As yoga practitioners, the world of yoga begins within. Finding the right style class is just the first step, having the right attitude is a consistent and life-long journey. The benefits are far beyond the tips of your fingers and toes. You can come to yoga seeking flexibility in your body and you will find it is not only a physical attribute, but a mental, emotional and spiritual one as well. The great part about yoga is, no matter what style you choose, you will find what you are looking for: you. Every road leads back to you. I tell my students, "you are your best teacher, listen beyond the "small self" so you may hear the whisper of a deeper calling, the place where peace resides."  When we seek to listen more clearly to our internal voice, we begin to discern the needs of not only the physical body, but every-body. Yoga is compassionate in nature. When we are in a state of "union" or yoga, we are able to greet the edge with a sense of effortless effort. This comes with time and time breeds patience. Willingness to show up is the first step. Whatever you seek to experience, there is a doorway into that place. Hot Yoga may not be for everyone, but for the athlete, this practice will show you what you are made of. You may not even like it the first time. Quite often it takes adjusting to the intensity of this style, so take it slow and bring water. Remember, a little bit of discomfort will reveal areas of resistance(mental, physical, emotional) that may be holding you back from reaching your goals. Sometimes, we must greet the edge and know there is something greater than ourselves that will carry us to the other side. Although we may come to yoga with specific intentions to support training and other goals, yoga is a practice, not a destination. Keep showing up and let go of the attachment to get to the goal. Being consistent will naturally and effectively guide you to where you need to be on time, with integrity and purpose fueled action. Trust yourself and the journey.
Yoga Styles
Questions regarding this article or yoga:  send me a note, I'd be happy to be your guest teacher at a local studio near you.
• With your request I could end up in the nearest location to your home or office. Where would you like to see Your Yoga Expert?
Kali Ray and the Yoga Street Team:
Yoga Boot Camp: leave your boots at the door and get ready to soar!

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