Hot yoga refers to yoga exercises performed under hot and humid conditions. "Hot yoga" is used to describe any yoga or yoga-inspired fitness styles that use heat. Hot yoga typically leads to profuse sweating.
The purpose for the heat in hot yoga varies depending on the practice or the individual. Some hot yoga practices seek to replicate the heat and humidity of India where yoga originated, while some forms use heat to enhance health benefits. 
The hot yoga trend began with Bikram Yoga, developed by Bikram Choudhury in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Largely due to the success and health benefits of Bikram Yoga, many yoga styles and fitness practices began adding heat and humidity to their practice environments.
At present, "hot yoga" can refer to the 26-posture sequence taught by a Bikram method teacher, or yoga, yoga-inspired fitness or stretching done in a heated environment.
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Bikram Yoga, created by Bikram Choudhury, is a therapeutic Hatha yoga class and practiced in a room at 105 °F (41 °C) with 40% humidity. A traditional Bikram class consists of the same 26 postures with 2 breathing techniques and lasts for 90 minutes. Research studies on Bikram Yoga have demonstrated health benefits including improved insulin resistance, healthier cholesterol levels, and reductions in depression and anxiety.
Power Yoga is a fitness-focused Vinyasa style. Power yoga encompasses the benefits of both Ashtanga and Vinyasa including the building of internal heat, increase of stamina and flexibility and reducing stress on the body. Instructors personalize posture sequences, and students practice by synchronizing their breath and their movements.
Forrest Yoga was created by Ana T. Forest through her own healing. She took original yoga poses and transformed them into updated poses to fit today's lifestyle physical ailments. Forest Yoga can improve lower and upper back pain, neck pain, shoulder issues, carpal tunnel and intestinal issues. The practice is founded upon the four pillars- breath, strength, integrity and spirit.
Practicing Yin yoga in a warm room is steadily increasing in popularity. Yin is a slow-paced yoga practice with fewer postures held for longer periods of time. Each pose can last anywhere from 1 minute to 5 minutes or longer. Depending on the student, moderate heat applied to yin yoga can alleviate stress on the body, allow easier access to targeted areas and it can stimulate energies throughout the body.
Yoga sculpt is a new and trending form of yoga which combines free-weights and the traditional practice of yoga. Typically in these classes (heated or non-heated, but usually heated) equipment such as, weights, yoga blocks and strength bands are used to challenge the practice. Traditional strength moves are mixed with traditional yoga poses, like weighted squats in chair pose. This practice allows students to form muscles needed for stronger yoga practices and adds intensity into a workout. This class is helpful to many yogis who are extremely flexible and need some muscle in order to prevent injury.
Since hot yoga's rise to fame, the practice has become a popular way to stay in shape and increase flexibility, Like any exercise or physical activity, safety precautions are critical for preventing injury and maximizing effectiveness.
Staying hydrated before and after a hot yoga session is imperative. Dehydration can result in the inability for the body to regulate its temperature. To ensure proper hydration, it is recommended to drink at least 16 ounces of water an hour before class, and at least 16 ounces after class.
During a hot yoga practice, it is common to feel nauseous or dizzy. Never be afraid to take breaks as needed and sip water throughout. Always listen to the body, never going beyond what is within reasonable capacity.
There are few studies on the direct effects of hot yoga on a developing fetus. However, pregnant women are still advised to avoid practicing yoga in extremely warm or humid conditions. When exposed to excessive heat while pregnant, there is an increased risk of over-exhaustion, muscle injury and cartilage and tissue damage. Hormones and fetal development affect blood pressure, making the mother more susceptible to fainting and light-headedness if exercising in a hot environment.
Rajashree's Pregnancy Yoga is a specific prenatal sequence developed in conjunction with medical professionals and recommended by physicians. This sequence has been practiced by pregnant women around the world since the 1980s. Pregnant women with at least 6 months of a near-daily Bikram Yoga practice are advised to practice the pregnancy series outside of the heated room during the first trimester, as a risk of neural tube defects is increased when pregnant women have repeated and prolonged high body temperature. However, for the 2nd and 3rd trimesters, those with a pre-pregnancy Bikram yoga practice of at least 6 months may generally return to the hot room for Rajashree's Pregnancy Yoga, taking care to rest when necessary and have access to cool air.
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