Yoga is a $2.5 billion industry and is growing in popularity every day, with many people practising it for mindfulness, wellness, and health. But what are the benefits of hot yoga? Is it worth investing your time and money into this hobby? We take a look.
What is hot yoga?
Hot yoga is a broad term used for any yoga practice done in high temperatures (usually above 30 degrees Celsius.) Some say this is done to mimic the hot and humid temperatures of yoga's country of origin, India. However, some say it is so as to make the yoga participants sweat more and become more flexible thereby getting more out of the session.
A common type of hot yoga is known as Bikram yoga after its founder, Bikram Choudhury, and was first popularised in the 1970s. Bikram hot yoga consists of the same 26 poses and two breathing exercises in every class and is typically done in 40 degree heat (105 degrees Fahrenheit) with 40% humidity.
Bikram yoga has recently come under scrutiny due to personal and professional indiscretions by Bikram Choudhury including alleged sexual assault and multiple law suits.
Advocates of hot yoga claim it encourages the sweating out of toxins and improves circulation, increases flexibility, and decreases stress. However, the drawbacks of exercising in such intense heat and humidity include nausea, dizziness, and the risk of passing out. Pregnant women are one group who are strongly advised against practising hot yoga as the excess heat can cause over-exhaustion and muscle injury. The fetal development can also affect blood pressure which can in turn increase the risk of the mother suffering nausea or syncope (fainting).
Hot yoga benefits
There are supposedly many benefits to practising hot yoga, for example the heat loosens up your muscles, making you more flexible. It is even thought that yoga can reduce emotional eating thereby helping you to lose weight. This is thought to be because of the de-stressing effect that yoga can have on people.
It's very important that you stay well hydrated when practising hot yoga due to the intense heat and humidity which lead to profuse sweating. A leak-proof water bottle that you can have with you is vital. You also want to make sure that you have a non-slip yoga mat as the excess sweat could cause you to slip when holding your poses. Finally, your yoga clothing needs to be super sweat-wicking and stretchy to give you complete freedom of movement and to prevent you from chafing and ending up with sweat rash or body acne after a particularly sweaty hot yoga session.
Your gym clothes say a lot about you and if you turn up for your workout looking and feeling fresh, chances are you'll have a better workout. We look at how to keep your gym clothes looking, feeling, and smelling fresh so that they last longer and perform better in the long-term.
Why wear gym clothes?
When it comes to gym clothes, there are a lot of expectations for performance, comfort, style, and more. While there's absolutely nothing wrong with turning up for your workout or group fitness class wearing a baggy old t-shirt and sweatpants, you will benefit far more from specially designed technical gym clothes that fit well and perform under pressure.
Fabric choice is everything for gym clothing, as some fabrics dry quicker than others and you don't want to end up with sweat rash and feeling weighed down by a soggy top. Additionally, your old clothes might not stretch as much as you need, leaving you feeling restricted or exposed. Ladies gym wear and mens gym clothes are often made with 4-way stretch materials which move freely and give you unlimited freedom of movement to stretch, squat, and jump as much as you need without feeling inhibited or held back by your clothing. Gym clothes also now come with sweat-wicking as standard which means your sweat is drawn away from your skin to evaporate so that you can stay dry and avoid chafing as you tackle a tough workout.
Finally, proper gym clothes will feature even more advanced features and innovative technology such as temperature control, which will stop you overheating in the warm but will keep you insulated in the cold. They also might even feature compression technology which is thought to improve performance by improving circulation to the muscles.
So with all that said, it's pretty clear why you should invest in proper gym clothes that offer exceptional performance and comfort while still looking sleek and stylish and giving you confidence.
How to store gym clothes
How you store your gym clothes will have a huge impact on how fresh they stay and how wearable they are for your next workout. If you get home from a great gym workout, drenched in sweat and ready for a shower, but just throw your clothes in a pile on the floor and forget about them, chances are they'll end up stale, smelly, and will lose their shape too.
Due to the hydrophobic nature of high-tech sportswear with its sweat-wicking capabilities, gym clothes are more likely to absorb oils from your body. As such, leaving them in a pile on a chair or the floor will allow bacteria to grow and spread which will leave your gym clothes smelling stale in a way you can't get rid of.
The best way to store gym clothes is in a cupboard, wardrobe, or hanging on a clothes rail. By allowing them to hang up and air out after you wash them, you will help the technical fabrics to keep their shape and protect the special materials which help make your gym clothes so good at performing when you train.
How often to wash gym clothes
The simple answer to this is that you should wash your gym clothes after every use. Even if you feel like you didn't sweat much, your body will have still secreted oils and other bacteria which you will want to wash away. Even on a normal day, you can sweat up to a litre of water per day. Leaving sweat and bacteria festering in your gym clothes - even if they feel or smell clean - can lead to irritated skin and even yeast infections (if you keep your sweaty leggings on for too long).
If you're worried that washing your gym clothes after every use will shorten their life, you need to invest in better quality gym clothes! Cheap gym clothing which is made of cotton is certainly more likely to lose its shape, colour, and comfort after a few washes, but more expensive, well-designed, and carefully crafted premium activewear will last for plenty of washes.
If you are prone to leaving your gym clothes on for a long time after a tough session, say to meet a friend or just to wear for the rest of the day, think again. If you leave sweaty gym clothes on your skin, you could end up with sweat rash and even body acne.
Thankfully, companies like Sundried are paving the way for innovation in the sportswear world with all-day active gym clothes. This activewear is specifically designed to be worn all day with advanced sweat-wicking technology and recycled fabrics which dry 200 times faster than regular gym clothes and feature natural anti-odour properties from the premium materials. These luxury gym clothes can be worn all day without a worry due to their high specification and premium fabrics.
How to stop gym clothes smelling
There are lots of creative ways you can get the smell out of your gym clothes, such as adding lemon juice or baking soda to your wash. However, there are plenty of other ways to stop them smelling in the first place.
Wash your gym clothes inside out as the oils and sweat will be mostly on the inside of the clothing. Let your clothes air out instead of stuffing them into a wash basket or hamper, but better yet, wash your gym clothes as soon as you can once you've finished your workout. Finally, don't use a fabric softener with your workout clothes, as this leaves a coating on clothing which can lock in the smell instead of washing it out.
What your gym clothes say about you
There are so many different types of gym clothes and sportswear out there that it can be difficult choosing the right ones for you. Some will opt for more fashionable gym clothes while others will prefer the rugged look of stringers and sweatpants. But what do your gym clothes say about you? It's something you might never have thought about before.
If you're struggling to decide what to wear for your first fitness class, try not to stress too much! Everyone is there for a shared experience and for the same reason: to get fit. Ultimately, you should be comfortable in your activewear and that is what matters most.
There are lots of new fashion trends in activewear this year such as men wearing leggings and taking your activewear out of the gym by wearing athleisure. No matter what you choose to wear, your gym clothes will always just say that you want to get fit and are prepared to work hard to achieve that!
It is no secret that many sports are still very male-dominated and that getting into sport as a woman can be intimidating and down right hard work. We bring you three of the world's most inspiring female athletes from all different sports to show you how women can excel in sport and that we are just as talented as the guys!
Katrin Davidsdottir - CrossFit
CrossFit is one of the rare sports in which men and women compete side by side, instead of in separate leagues. Katrin Davidsdottir is an Icelandic athlete who won the title of Fittest Woman On Earth two years running in 2015 and 2016 at the CrossFit Games. At only 24 years old, she shows a grit and determination that is truly inspiring and her strength and speed are impressive to say the least. With a clean and jerk PB of almost 100kg, she can out-lift most men and proves that women can be just as strong and powerful as men.
Dame Kelly Holmes - Athletics
Dame Kelly Holmes has set British records in numerous events and still holds the records in the 600m, 800m, and 1000m distances. She has served in the British Army and won double gold at the Olympics in Athens in 2004. She has run a 4:28 mile which is quicker than most men, and in 2009 was appointed president of Commonwealth Games England, a post previously held by a man for 15 years. Since her retirement from professional athletics in 2005, she has done a lot of charity work and is very outspoken about mental health issues. She continues to be a major role model for women everywhere.
Lucy Charles - Triathlon
Lucy Charles has gone from strength to strength in her triathlon career, reaching its pinnacle so far with her incredible win at Ironman Lanzarote in May 2017 and second place victory at the Ironman World Championships in Kona, very close behind Swiss Daniela Ryf. Triathlon is a hugely male-dominated sport and Lucy continues to show how women should be inspired and motivated to take part. Having never even ridden a road bike before 2014, it's incredible that her Ironman World Champ time of 08:59:38 placed her 38th overall out of 2,455 athletes, meaning she beat literally thousands of men in this male-dominated sport.
Try this upper body arm workout for women to blast your arms and get results! Including exercises for biceps, triceps, and shoulders. Perfect for toning and sculpting your arms and bingo wings.
Cable Tricep Pull Downs
This exercise is for isolating the triceps.
How to perform the tricep pull down
Using either a straight bar or rope attachment, attach to a cable machine in the high position. Standing with your feet shoulder width apart, pull the bar down and keep your elbows tucked in. Push the bar down, fully extending your arms, then slowly raise the bar up back to the start position. Keep the movement control and feel the burn in the back of your arms!
Key exercise tips:
- Keep the elbows tucked in
- Fully extend the arms
- Exhale as you press down and inhale on the way up
- Too much movement of the arms – taking the elbows away from the body
- Shrugging the shoulders and using the trap muscles
- Going too heavy and using momentum
This is a great cardiovascular exercise that will trim and tone the arms whilst simultaneously working the core and blasting the shoulders.
How to use the battle ropes
Hold the ends of the rope at arm's length in front of your hips with your hands shoulder-width apart. Brace your core, soften your knees, and begin alternately raising and lowering each arm explosively. Keep alternating arms for 30 seconds. After 30 seconds, instead of making waves, start slamming the rope into the ground. Make sure to keep breathing and don't hold your breath!
Key exercise tips:
- Tense your abs tightly during performance
- Concentrate on keeping your speed fast
- Don't hold your breath
- Sacrificing technique with fatigue
- Performing the exercise for too long
Dumbbell Bicep Curls
This is an isolation exercise for the biceps using a pair of dumbbells.
How to perform the dumbbell curl
In a standing position, holding a dumbbell in your hand and keeping your elbow pinned to your waist, curl your arm up to your chest, flexing your elbow then slowly extend it back down again. Repeat on each arm for 10-12 reps.
Key exercise tips:
- Keep your elbow in a fixed position
- Fully extend your arm at the bottom of the movement
- Moving the elbow out of alignment
- Going too heavy and sacrificing technique
- Swinging the body with the movement
Tricep Bench Dips
This is a body weight exercise that you can do virtually anywhere. It’s a compound exercise, which means it will hit all three of your tricep muscles as well as your shoulders and chest muscles.
How to perform the tricep bench dip
Position your hands at shoulder width apart on a bench with your hands facing forward. Extend your legs out, taking your bum off the bench balancing on your hands.
Lower your body down towards the floor taking your arms into a 90 degrees bend. Press your body upwards, extending out your arms back into the start position.
Key exercise tips:
- Keep your core tight to maintain an upright position
- Make sure your elbows track in line with your hand
- Breathe in as you lower and breathe out as you press up
- If you find it difficult to perform the tricep dip with straight legs then bend your knees placing your feet flat on the floor
- Rounding/curving back
- Not going low enough
- Hyperextending the elbows