Hot yoga for professional sports people

Wales rugby ball

Pic from CC Flickr by 'realname'

Some of you may have seen the recent news that Wales’ rugby squad are now incorporating ‘hot yoga’ into their training schedule from yoga teacher Catherine Keller in Cardiff. Other high profile footballers,  football teams, tennis players and other sports players have also incorporated yoga into their fitness programme. Why is this? In the case of ‘hot yoga’ the coach hopes it will help players to recover from injuries more quickly and to improve their flexibility.

So what is ‘hot yoga’? It is similar in principle to Bikram yoga which was created by Bikram Choudhury in America. He devised a sequence of 26 postures and the class is conducted in a room that is heated up to 40 degrees Celsius and lasts 90 minutes. The benefit of the heat is that the muscles are then warmer and less likely to be damaged, and a warmer body is more flexible than a cold stiff one. The heat can also help you detoxify more. However, heat exhaustion has been known to affect some students and there are other considerations to think about if practising hot yoga and is can be unsafe for some people. Which is one of the controversies around Bikram yoga.

The other is that he obtained copyright for Bikram Yoga in 2002 and threatens to sue yoga teachers if they call their class Bikram Yoga when they are not part of his affiliated franchise. An Indian group is fighting back however, claiming that you cannot copyright a tradition such as yoga and are busy cataloguing traditional yoga knowledge. Another group, called Open Source Yoga Unity has been formed in America to resist other copyright actions.

I myself have not experienced a Bikram or hot yoga class so cannot comment further on the advantages of this style of yoga. Catherine Keller has her ‘hot yoga’ credentials on her website where she also says this is the only hot yoga available in Wales, which is probably true. Anyone got any comments about hot yoga or tried it themselves?

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