Woman doing Sauna Yoga

Sauna Yoga – A Science Backed Guide

Sauna yoga is a variation of hot yoga. For best performance choose a sauna temperature between 105-120 degrees. Due to limited space yoga fans mostly practice it seated. Sauna yoga can be used as part of your personal human optimization strategy. At least science found that it is more beneficial than normal sauna – especially for older adults.

Which Sauna is suitable for Sauna Yoga

For best effects do sauna yoga in a dry sauna with a maximum humidity of 105 degrees. Both traditional Finnish sauna or infrared saunas are suitable environments.

General Benefits of Sauna Yoga

  • Relaxation: Private saunas provide a relaxing environment. In addition Heat helps muscles to relax easier
  • Stress Relief: The Combination of heat and exercise promotes stress relief. Furthermore, it relieves tensions in the neck and shoulder region
  • Breath: improves ability to focus on breathing as the heat is an additional challenge.
  • Cardio: Sauna Yoga is a little workout that forces your heart to work harder, especially in postures when you are balancing and contracting your muscles at the same time

Scientific Backed Benefits For Older Adults

The German Sport University Cologne researched the effects of sauna yoga on older adults (around 69 plus/minus 5 years). The participants of the study joined one weekly sauna session over 8 weeks. One sauna yoga session lasted 30 min.  

“The session consisted of six yoga poses. The majority of them were performed in a seated position. The training session started and ended with one minute of relaxation exercises for preparing the body and mind for the workout and calming down afterwards. In the meditation–relaxation part, the participants were requested to close their eyes and take a comfortable sitting position. The main sauna yoga part included four stretching and mobilizing movements: Shoulder and hip flexibility, spine rotation, flexion, and lateral flexion. Each stretching exercise was performed once, twice, or four times on each side, depending on the exercises. In addition, two strengthening movements, focused on the muscles of the trunk and lower limbs, were also performed once to four times on each side. Static poses were held for 4 or 5 breaths, ending up approximately with 30 s each.

Findings of The Study

The study found that sauna yoga in a seated position can improve flexibility in healthy older adults. 

“During the intervention, none of the participants complained about inconvenience or negative effects regarding sauna yoga. On the contrary, they only gave positive feedback. Furthermore, participants enjoyed and looked for further sessions. Therefore, it is recommended that sauna yoga under supervision is a suitable activity for healthy older adults. Spas, fitness centers, and senior activity centers could incorporate it into their activity programs. Additionally, the results of this research may lead to a new perspective on thermal therapy as treatment for diseases that decrease ROM like arthritis and rheumatism.”

Sauna Yoga Poses

  • modified eagle pose, 
  • adjusted sun salutation, 
  • modified warrior pose, 
  • spine rotations, core 1 and 2, and 
  • modified lotus pose

What You Need for Sauna Yoga

Beside a big towel to sit on you might want to bring two smaller ones. One towel for your feet and the second to wipe down your sweat. Your yoga instructor might have some dressing guidelines. Otherwise, shorts and a light T-Shirt are very suitable.  

Sauna Yoga For Weight Loss

Sweating and burning calories is not the same. Therefore, weight loss depends on the calories one burns during performing yoga. Regarding the fact that we do sauna yoga, especially for safety reasons, mainly seated, the amount of calories we burn is limited. Nevertheless, sauna can have a positive impact on your metabolism. But there are definitely other types of exercises that are far more beneficial for a weight loss strategy than sauna yoga.

What to Keep in Mind

  • Avoid sauna yoga while pregnant
  • Bring a water bottle
  • Sweat can get your mat slippery
  • Stay away from sauna heater
  • Stop immediately when you notice any sign of dizziness or nausea
  • Contact your healthcare provider prior to hot yoga if you have:
  • Heart disease
  • Problems with dehydration
  • Heat intolerance
  • A history of a heat-related illness (such as heatstroke)

A Word From SimpleSavvySmart.com

Sauna in general is highly relaxing. If you consider sauna yoga ask yourself if you feel comfortable doing it in a public sauna as well. The air quality and hygienic standard might not be the same as in a private sauna at home. In addition, regular sauna sessions will get expansive. Thus investing in your own sauna might be a smart investment.

Recommended for you: How to use a sauna and sauna etiquette.

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