Clearlight would like to remind users that this should not be taken as direct medical advice, and you should always consult a licensed health practitioner before making any significant changes to your lifestyle or existing pain treatment regimen.
When you think of stretching, the first thing that comes to mind is probably a yoga mat in a bright, airy studio. But what about stretching in a sauna?
Stretching during a sauna session can be a great way to improve your flexibility and mobility. Hot yoga isn't anything new by the way, Bikram yoga, for example, was invented in the 1970s by Bikram Choudhury and is one of the most well-known practices of hot yoga.
Saunas are typically very hot and humid, which makes them a perfect environment for stretching if they a large enough.
In this article, we'll look at the benefits of stretching in a sauna and give you some tips, tricks and resources to take your yoga session into your sauna.
Stretching in sauna
The heat and humidity of a traditional sauna or steam room can help to loosen up your muscles and joints, making it easier to achieve a deeper stretch. A hot yoga session can be an ailment to your joint pain and muscle soreness if done correctly.
In addition, the sweat produced from an infrared sauna can further help to cleanse and remove toxins from the body, as well as many other benefits. So it's not hard to see why people might want to do hot yoga in a sauna.
But is it safe to do yoga in a sauna?
Tips for sauna stretching safety
The answer is yes, as long as you take some precautions. Here are a few tips on how to minimise the risk of doing hot yoga in a sauna:
Make sure the cabin is well ventilated. If the sauna is too hot or humid, it can be dangerous. This may be difficult in a steam room.
Drink plenty of water before and after your session.
Don't stay in the sauna for too long, listen to your body and find the point of discomfort.
Avoid doing any strenuous yoga poses. The heat can make them more difficult to do and you can risk injury. Practice gentle stretching and relaxation poses.
Following the points above will ensure your safety when embarking on a hot yoga experience. But why would you want to do stretching in your sauna anyway?
Health benefits from stretching in infrared saunas
Yoga by itself is no doubt beneficial for the human body, but what happens when you incorporate it with an infrared sauna is a complementary array of benefits.
Stretching increases the range of motion of a joint and helps to prevent injury in your muscles, as well as warming up your system before exercise.
Infrared saunas also have a wide variety of benefits, such as improving blood circulation, assisting in weight loss, detoxification, providing deeper sleep, muscle recovery and lowering stress.
The benefits of both stretching and sauna are synergistic, and if incorporating yoga practices such as deep breathing are multiplied further.
Stretching, in turn, also increases your core temperature further, improves circulation, increases your heart rate, helps with meditation and stress relief, and causes sweating to improve your detoxification process further.
So, combining these activities is a big win-win.
Because flexibility is one of the capabilities most affected by the aging process, stretching will become more important as you enter the later stages of life.
Research from a 2013 study found that "A decrease in flexibility of the shoulder and hip joints by approximately 6 degrees per decade was observed across ages 55 to 86 years in both men and women."
Exercising is crucial for retaining flexibility, and stretching is the best way to keep your flexibility, especially as you become older.
This 2012 study stated, "Older adults over 65 years old should incorporate static stretching into an exercise regimen."
The great benefit of an infrared sauna is that the increase in body temperature actually increases the heart rate, simply when at rest, and this results in more blood flow around the body, resulting in lower blood pressure, and the body being able to burn more calories.
Workout with sauna yoga
Doing your yoga exercise inside a sauna is a great 'bang-for-your-buck' in terms of time-saving, but if you want to take it further we have some tips.
Exercising before your session and incorporating cold after your session is one way to further enhance the health benefits sauna yoga can provide.
To achieve this, after your workout head straight to the sauna immediately. After you've completed your stretching routine in your sauna and the temperature gets too much for you, head straight to a cold shower. A cold shower will remove the toxins on your skin from your sweat and drastically bring down your body temperature. This will further enhance your detoxification systems. Simply repeat this cycle 2 - 3 times. The rise and drop in temperature are great for muscle soreness or muscle cramps.
The heat of infrared works with your body to improve circulation and break down lactic acid, which causes pain and discomfort in muscles and joints.
Not only that, making use of your infrared sauna may have an adverse effect of losing some weight too, and that in itself can help you to perform stretches with a lot more ease.
Using saunas for weight loss is nothing new. People have known the positive effects heat and sweating have on the waistlines for centuries.
It has been proven to put the body into the same condition as a regular cardio workout. Imagine the weight loss benefits of a sauna when added to a regular yoga routine. If you're concerned always seek advice from your doctor beforehand.
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Stretching in an infrared sauna routine
If you're looking to add some hot stretching into your sauna routine, there are a few exercises that you can try.
One favourite is the Camel pose. To do this pose, kneel on the floor with your palms on the floor behind you. Then, lean back while pressing your hips forward until you feel a deep stretch in your chest and abs. Hold this pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then release and repeat as desired.
Another great stretch for the sauna is the Triangle pose. To do this pose, stand with your feet hip-width apart and turn your right foot out 90 degrees. Then, reach your right hand down to the floor and place your left hand on your hip. Lean your torso to the right, then press your left hip forward until you feel a deep stretch in your left leg. Hold this pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then release and repeat on the other side.
The hamstring stretch is one of the most common stretches done in a sauna. To do this stretch, stand with your feet hip-width apart and place your palms together in front of your chest. Then, bend forward from the hips until your hands touch the floor. Hold this pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then release and repeat as desired.
This exercise might feel like a bit of a workout, being in the heat of the sauna, and may not be as relaxing as you had intended, but there are also many positions you can try where you sit and focus on your breathing as well.
If you’re interested in stretching or mobility work in your sauna, here are some world-class sources on this topic. The benefit of these sources is that you can fully independently develop a sauna routine where no instructor is necessarily required.
Magnificent Mobility; 10 Minutes to Better Flexibility, Performance and Health, first edition, 2012, by Eric Cressey and Mike Robertson. The focus of this DVD series is dynamic stretching, but almost all of these stretches can be carried out in an enclosed space like a big infrared sauna.
With these four excellent resources, you not only know more about stretching than you're average sauna user but you'll be able to make your stretching routine as simple or as advanced as you want to in your sauna.
Of course, you'll need a sauna with enough room to be able to do this workout, in the first place, and the Clearlight Sanctuary Yoga is perfect for this. Its massive 4-person cabin can be fully utilised with the feature of having detachable benches. If you're wanting to do sauna yoga then Sanctuary Yoga is your best option.
Stretch Out The Stress
Once you've incorporated stretching or yoga into your sauna sessions, it'll become a way of sauna life.
Yoga fights stress and with it, you can find peace and serenity and is all about balance and bringing your mind and body to equilibrium.
Both yoga and far infrared saunas have been shown to decrease stress levels. Not surprisingly, these two holistic health technologies have a lot of similar benefits. Using them in unison strengthens their potency.
So, next time you're in the sauna, don't just sit there and sweat—get stretching! Your body will thank you.
If you're interested in an infrared sauna cabin for home, click here to view our range of full-spectrum saunas, far-infrared saunas, and outdoor saunas.