Syncing breath with physical movement in a 40-degree room can do wonders for the brain. In a room full of strangers, hot yoga offers the chance for practitioners to calm their day-to-day thoughts and engage in reflective thinking; it forms the ultimate connection between the mind, body, and spirit.
Deliberate, thoughtful movements in sync with the breath are at the heart of yoga. Yoga is ultimately designed to use and stretch one’s muscles, and by the end of a session, the body is often so relaxed—or exhausted—that the mind surrenders, too. Not just during exam season, but year-round, yoga provides practitioners with invaluable benefits.
Hot yoga offers even greater potential for reaching this connected state; the temperature increases mobility in the muscles, thus providing greater capacity to stretch. There are, however, some risks to the practice; working out in extreme heat can lead to dehydration, fainting, and a higher potential for pulling muscles.
Yet, while sweating profusely and trying to conform into pretzel poses may sounds anything but relaxing, many people find great comfort in the practice.
Carly Ayukawa, U2 Management, has been practicing yoga for six years, and keeps up her practice to de-stress during exams. Often, leaving behind the stresses of daily life for an hour can help students be more productive when returning to their studies.
“I think yoga is really important, because you spend an hour being focused on what you’re doing and your breathing,” Ayukawa said. “It slows down your life for that time and when you leave you have a sense of calmness.”
For Ayukawa, each yoga session comes with a reminder to step back from the stress of university life.
“Mindfulness is really important, especially for students and our generation, because we’re always bombarded with all this information, and distracted by social media and everything going on,” Ayukawa said. “A big part of yoga is being able to listen to yourself and making sure you are respecting your body.”
Alex Munro, an exchange student in the Faculty of Law, tried hot yoga for the first time earlier this term, and was excited to experience its positive effects.
“I think it's impossible to go, and then come out more stressed,” Munro said. “It is probably beneficial to your studying in the long run, because it does relax you and you don’t think about the stresses of [university] when you’re in that environment.”
By making a restless brain calm, and allowing for natural intuition and creativity to flourish, hot yoga benefits practitioners in more than one way. The discipline of stretching, twisting, and breathing deeply connect the mind and body, and students should be quick to take advantage of this.