Several styles of hot yoga are becoming increasingly popular, including Bikram yoga and Modo yoga, or Moksha yoga as it is known outside of the United States. The name “hot yoga” comes from the fact that this form of yoga is performed in a studio that maintains high heat and humidity, duplicating conditions in India where yoga originated.
Best Yoga Mat For Hot Yoga – Our Top Picks
What is Hot Yoga?
All forms of hot yoga are practiced in studios heated to 95 F to 105 F (35 C to 40 C) with a humidity level of 40 percent. The poses, or asanas, practiced vary. Usually hot yoga asanas are taken from flowing, dance-like vinyasa yoga in which the asanas move smoothly from one poseture to the next in coordination with the inhale or exhale of the breath. For example, Bikram yoga, created by Bikram Choudhury, consists of 26 asanas, including two pranayama or breathing exercises. The set series of poses is performed twice to complete a 90 minute exercise routine.
Which Mats are Best for Hot Yoga?
Yoga mats with a nonslip surface are best for any type of yoga, but the nonslip feature is especially important for hot yoga. The most common materials used for making yoga mats are rubber and PVC. Either of these provides an adequate nonslip surface; although new rubber mats have a distinctive odor that can linger for some time. Mats coated with polyurethane provide the highest degree of nonslip grip, but, like rubber, this coating has a distinctive smell. Frequent washing helps eliminate the smell more quickly. You will want to wash your mat after each hot yoga class anyway; so, frequent washing should not be a problem.
Mats made of jute, cotton, and other organic or recycled materials may be more comfortable for sitting and reclining postures, and the textured surfaces of these mats adds grip. However, the textured surface also make these mats more difficult to clean. Open-cell mats are also more difficult to clean. PVC and other closed-cell mats are easier to clean.
Yoga mats come in thicknesses ranging from 3 mm to 6.35 mm. Thickness is a matter of personal preference. Some feel more stable on a thinner mat. Those who carry their mats to yoga classes may also prefer a thinner, lighter weight mat. However, those who workout on floors with hard surfaces or who perform headstands and shoulder stands may prefer thicker mats for comfort.
To extend the life of your yoga mat, avoid exposing it to sunlight for extended periods. Also, avoid storing it in an area that becomes hot, such as in a hot car or in a closet near the utility room in your home or apartment.
Our 3 Best Mats for Hot Yoga
This mat is a combo mat/towel ideal for Bikram, Hot Yoga, Pilates, or any sweaty practice. It is made of an ultra absorbent microfiber top layer with a natural rubber base giving you the sweaty grip of a towel and also the cushion of a yoga mat. The dimensions are 70 inch x 24 inch and a thickness of 3mm. There is also a lighter travel version available.
It comes in a range of beautiful limited edition prints, is reversible, durable, machine washable and eco-friendly. Also included is a carry strap and a money back guarantee.
As this mat is a towel combo, this means that there will be no towel bunching or moving around during your class and will instantly improve your practice.
Also every $1 from every purchase goes to support Urban Youth Yoga Programs in need.
This mat is an open-cell rubber mat with a thickness 4.76 mm. The mat weighs four and a half pounds (2.41 kg).
The mat comes in a wide range of attractive, inspiring colors and in two lengths — 68 inch and 74 inch. The rubber provides a resilient nonskid surface, and the thickness of the mat provides ample cushioning for any floor surface.
To clean the mat, simply hand wash it with mild soap and water and then hang it or lay it flat to dry.
Jade Yoga manufactures its mats with natural rubber, a renewable resource, without any PVC or ozone depleting substances.
In addition, Jade Harmony partners with Trees for the Future to plant a tree for every yoga mat sold.
Made of closed-cell, eco-certified PVC and polyester, is a lighter weight, travel version of Manduka’s Pro mat.
Manduka offers a wide choice of enjoyable colors. The PVC and polyester construction creates a durable, slip-resistant but non-sticky surface, and the closed-cell structure prevents absorption of moisture and bacteria during sweaty hot yoga workouts. Non-skid dots on the bottom surface of the mat keep it from sliding on hard floor surfaces.
The mat has a thickness of (4.76 mm) and comes in two lengths — standard (71 inch) or long (74 inch). The standard mat weighs four pounds (1.81 kg) and the long mat weighs five pounds (2.267 kg).
Manduka provides a lifetime warranty on all of its mats.
These three mats give you a choice of comfortable, eco-friendly mats; durable mats; or lightweight travel mats. One should be perfect.
What are the Benefits of Hot Yoga?
Hot yoga is believed to offer both physical and mental benefits.
The postures require well-controlled, lengthy, forceful contractions of the muscles in all of the major muscle groups, which improves strength and coordination. The heat is also believed to aid in improving flexibility during the performance of the routine, which leads to increased flexibility outside of the yoga studio. In addition, the combination of the heat, the humidity, and the poses is meant to tire your muscles, raise your heart rate, and induce sweating, which some believe purifies the body. According to Yoganonymous.com a 90 minute hot yoga class burns 1,000 calories and provides the same cardio workout as a one-mile run. The way in which yoga asanas stretch and compress internal glands and organs has long been said to improve metabolism and burn additional calories while detoxifying the body. Hot yoga is also said to improve such illnesses and conditions as high blood pressure, arthritis, obesity, diabetes, back pain, and asthma.
Although most people do not have asthma, most people do breathe more shallowly than they should. Yoga teaches deep breathing, which calms, reduces stress and, possibly, eases depression. Further, the focus on the combination of breath and muscle control while performing yoga improves concentration.
What Equipment Do I Need for a Hot Yoga Class?
Because you will be sweating profusely in a hot yoga class, you will probably prefer to have your own mat and blanket or towel. Two props may be used to assist less flexible students with the poses — a block and a strap. If these props will be used, you may want to purchase your own for hot yoga classes. While any pair of shorts will work for a hot yoga class, yoga pants allow for the necessary range of motion while cut to be slightly fitted to keep them from sliding up too far during shoulder stands or headstands. For a top, women can choose either a sport bra or a lightweight slightly fitted blouse or shirt.
Are There Concerns about Hot Yoga?
In a guest post for BreakingMuscle.com, former hot yoga instructor Amber Larsen of Massage and Health by Amber Kim raises concerns about heat exhaustion and heat stroke. She states that some hot yoga instructors disparage attempts by students to seek relief from the heat and encourage them to remain in the room, even when the students complain of the symptoms of heat exhaustion — feelings of weakness, dizziness, and nausea resulting from decreased blood pressure, increased heart rate, and dehydration. Anyone experiencing these symptoms move to a cooler environment immediately before heat exhaustion turns to heat stroke.
Larsen also explains that excessive sweating does not produce detoxification, but only an increased chance for dehydration. Only the activities of the liver, kidneys, and colon purify the body.
Finally, Larsen explains that, while increasing muscle flexibility is appropriate, ligaments do not naturally have a great deal of stretch because their purpose is to stabilize joints. While performing yoga in a heated room, students may not feel the natural limits to motion in their joints and stretch beyond them. Stretching ligaments too far can cause the ligament to tear loose from the bone or stretch to the point that the ligament no longer supports the joint, leaving the joint unstable.
While writing about hot yoga in the Expert Answers section of the Mayo
Clinic’s Web site, Edward R.Laskowski, M.D. recommends that certain groups should not participate in hot yoga. These include:
- Anyone with heart disease
- Anyone who does not tolerate heat well
- Anyone who previously has become dehydrated
- Anyone who previously has experienced heat exhaustion or heat stroke
For others who want to try hot yoga, Dr. Laskowski recommends thorough hydration. He adds “stop if you feel dizzy, lightheaded or sick in any way.”