Say what you like about Bikram Choudhury. His fans call him an egomaniac, a multi-millionaire yogi blowhard, yogi’s biggest asshole, the Pablo Escobar of yoga. And I won’t mention what his critics call him. But early on, Bikram Choudhury understood two important things.
- Yoga would become more popular, and
- people associate sweat with effective workout regimen.
So, he packaged up his product, and sold it franchise style to yoga studios, with clear instructions to janitors to crank the heat and follow up with a good mop and bucket. And here in America, Starbuck’s drive through professionals, and busy Mom’s with kids in daycare like checked luggage embrace the intensity.
Sweat is the by product of intense effort. Gatorade and Nike commercials show athletes drenched in sweat in all the right places. Bikram yoga has folks embracing sweat. Many argue that mixing yoga with heat is like drinking and driving. There are simple, more gentle poses reserved for the sauna bench. Sauna yoga is probably a more realistic practice.
But a few rounds of sauna after a work out (bike, run, etc.) need not be packaged and sold franchise style. This is truly authentic, therapeutic, and uncontroversial.
In Developing Sauna-Yoga: part 1, we discussed our concerns and rationale for combining sauna with yoga. Our initial results were positive. Muscle relaxation caused by intense heat was complementary to stretching. The meditative attention inherent in performing poses translated to adaptive coping with the intense heat. While standing poses were ruled out because of the small quarters, the sauna bench and wall served as a prop for poses.
Now, in part 2, a definite protocol started to emerge. In this video, Robin demonstrates six poses to four participants in a sauna at 180°F. As shown, these poses can be performed well within the typical time inside a sauna at about 12 minutes. Here is a list of the six poses demonstrated:
1. Simple cross legged pose – Sucasana
2. Sitting Cat/Cow – Chakravakasana
3. Modified Half-fish seated twist – Ardha Matsyendrasana
4. Head to Knee Pose – Janusirsasana
5. Bound Angle Pose – Baddha Konasana
6. Camel pose – Ustrasana
While debriefing, we agreed that what would work well would be a procedure for a three-round sauna session to include Yoga in the first round, Meditation in the second round, and Socialize and enjoy a beer in the third round. See Sauna-Yoga: Much more than just VERY hot yoga.
If you have any health problems, consult your physician before attempting Sauna Yoga. See Sauna 101 for sauna contraindications. Robin recommends a temperature of 170°F for Sauna Yoga and advises against forward bends to prevent lightheadedness or dizziness, standing poses to decrease the risk of falling, and intense pranayama to prevent overheating or lightheadedness.