Where the yoga is hot
Yoga in the Netherlands is booming, not surprising perhaps for a nation whose healthcare philosophy is based on prevention over cure.
Yoga in the Netherlands is increasingly growing popular among the local and expat communities. Yoga can be seen as an ancient-turned modern form of preventative ‘medicine’, or a healing science of the energies.
The Dutch and yoga mix well, and Amsterdam especially has an international reputation for quality yoga studios. In 2015, the Netherlands maintained its first place at the top of the annual Euro health consumer index, ranking highly on indicators such as patient rights and information, accessibility, prevention and outcomes. Although, it may come as a culture shock to some expats when they are sent packing by their doctor with a paracetamol and sound advice on how to create a healthier lifestyle. Still if that is the aim, here is some information on why hot yoga can improve your health.
Finding yoga in Amsterdam and the Netherlands
As Amsterdam is an international city with locals who can often easily slip into more than two languages, finding a yoga studio with English-language yoga classes isn’t difficult. Hot yoga especially is a style traditionally taught in English. Internationals landing in the major Dutch cities, and increasingly in smaller cities and towns in the Netherlands, are now able to pick up their mat and join a class before they even start with Dutch lessons. You can read more about yoga studios in the Netherlands.
Hot yoga is a popular style of hatha yoga that is both vigorous and healing. Introduced in the 1970s to America by Bikram Choudhury, following the Bishnu Gosh yoga lineage, hot yoga is now practiced widely in studios all over the world. Whether you practise the original 26-posture hot yoga sequence or offshoot sequences developed from the core series, hot yoga can have a powerful effect on your life. Yoga practised regularly and under the guidance of a practiced and qualified teacher can both improve your health and bring peace of mind.
Here are five reasons to add some heat to your yoga practice, according to Hot Yoga Eindhoven.
Benefits of hot yoga
1. Reduced risk of injury
The heat relaxes the body; the room in a classical hot yoga class is specially heated to between 38 and 40 degrees. Relaxation of the muscles and tissues not only promotes the range of movement but allows us, safely, to go deeper into the poses.
Regular yoga practice under the guidance of a qualified teacher is therapeutic, and repetition of poses, even those we do not move easily into, will correct poor body mechanics. Working on the internal organs as well as limbs, yoga stimulates our metabolism and rebalances our hormones. By stretching and compressing the muscles, then releasing, we temporarily cut the blood supply and then flush it back into the same area, both cleaning out impurities and increasing the oxygen supply. The heat also helps to stabilise and heal injured areas, keeping the affected body parts moving to promote recovery.
3. Heart strengthening
Your heart needs to work harder in the heat, promoting venous return to the heart and pumping more oxygenated blood around the body. Blood vessels and capillaries expand allowing more oxygenated blood to reach damaged areas faster and more effectively. Yoga breathing lowers the blood pressure and calms the nervous system while strengthening the heart and respiratory system.
The style of teaching, with direct, verbal instructions, combined with heat, increases focus. In the heat, you quickly learn there is no room for anything else but focus on your practice. Every movement becomes mindful. You learn to minimise movement between postures to conserve energy and focus on the essential elements of the practice. Basically, you focus on your breath, listen to the instructions from the teacher and focus on the messages your body gives you as you slowly work through the poses. The discipline of practice quiets your busy mind. With practice, you become more collected, balanced and calmer. You will notice that it becomes easier to remain in the present.
An element of hot yoga that is often forgotten is the purging aspect of sweating it out in the heat. Our bodies produce sweat to cool us down. But also, when practising in a hot room, more impurities are worked out of the system, both via the skin and the digestive tract. Not only do we feel purged physically, but the purging is felt on a psychological level as we learn how to move through a vigorous hot yoga practice. The class ends with Savasana, the longest pose in the sequence, where you lie down on your back and practice total relaxation and withdrawal of the senses.
At the end of the class you leave quietly washing off the sweat worked up, calm and refreshed with a yoga glow on your skin.
Natasha Gunn / Hot Yoga Eindhoven
Natasha Gunn teaches yoga at Hot Yoga Eindhoven in the South of the Netherlands. Hot Yoga Eindhoven offers classical Hot Yoga, Vinyasa flow yoga and Yin yoga. All the yoga classes are in English.
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