Want to lose weight while increasing your strength, endurance, flexibility, balance, emotional equanimity and mental focus? Well then, hot yoga is for you!!
Despite what you may initially think – if you are, like me, a Tampanian, your first response might legitimately be some version of, “For the love of god, do you understand that I live in Florida? I don’t need it any hotter than it already is…” but wait, before you write hot yoga off, give me a chance – first, we aren’t just offering you a plain old hot room where you “simply” get a good sweat on (although the sweat does happen) …for starters, Kodawari uses infrared heat which is a significant game changer in terms of the type of heat (here’s a blog about how infrared works differently than blown air) nor is our hot yoga just about increasing flexibility.
Hot yoga can actually help you increase lean muscle mass and reduce adipose tissue (fat) simultaneously. That’s right, I will say it again, it builds muscle and burns fat. In fact, heat can be used to increase growth hormone production, muscular hypertrophy, endurance, and otherwise aid overall performance.
Before we go any further I must tell you that, in the effort to be get to the heart of the matter in a short-ish time frame and provide you with some of the science without overwhelming you, portions of this blog have been shamelessly lifted from a lengthier and far more comprehensive and scientifically based article by Dr. Rhonda Patrick, Ph.D. (she’s one of my personal heroes) of www.foundmyfitness.com.
Anyway, gaining muscle mass, or muscle hypertrophy, mostly relies on increasing muscle size, which is dependent on protein synthesis. Exercise induces muscle hypertrophy because it increases net protein synthesis. And while that might sound like a relatively straightforward equation – exercise more and you will increase net protein synthesis – it doesn’t work quite that simply. There’s a snag -when you exercise, you are also increasing oxidative stress, and this increases protein degradation.
So, to build muscle you have to figure out how to combat oxidative stress. If you can combat the oxidative stress, then you will have the highly sought after net increase in protein synthesis, and ultimately, you will put on the super sexy lean muscle mass. So the obvious question is, how do we combat oxidative stress?
According to Dr. Patrick, increasing your deep core temperature for short periods, like in a 26&2 (Bikram style) or Hot Power yoga class, can cause an induction of heat shock proteins as a hormetic response. This hormetic response – the production of heat shock proteins (HSP) – is the mechanism for combating oxidative stress.
Sometimes exposing yourself to low doses of something that might otherwise be toxic or even lethal at higher doses can actually have a beneficial effect, this is called hormesis. This is a reflection of the phrase “the dose makes the poison”…or “What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger”.
Heat shock proteins repair damaged proteins and prevent oxidation by scavenging free radicals. Heat shock proteins also prevent oxidation by increasing endogenous (self-made) antioxidants in our body, such as glutathione. Patrick calls this concept “hyperthermic conditioning,” which emerging research suggests has multiple positive effects on your body, from increased endurance to the growth of new brain cells.
The big benefit is that heat shock proteins don’t just go away once you become heat acclimated either, your body keeps them around when you’re not under physical stress and produces even more when you are.
Scientists studying the effects of heat acclimation on rats have found that hyperthermic conditioning resulted in a robust induction of heat shock proteins and this correlated with 30% more muscle regrowth (compared to controls after 7 days of immobilization).
If you want to hear more about the science of the hormetic response and how heat shock proteins help you with getting rid of fat and putting on the lean muscle mass that you are looking for, I’m going to let Dr. Rhonda speak for herself! Super geek out alert…this is real science and she delivers it like a champ!
I hope to see you on the mat soon! Don’t wait…plus, at the moment (1/5/18) we are in the thick of what we call winter here in Florida (it’s currently 34 degrees outside and there’s actually a wind chill advisory!) so the heat will feel even better than ever…
Looking forward to seeing you at the studio!