If you have gone for a hot yoga class, you would understand how gratifying it is to get your sweat on in a heated studio, especially after a rigorous day at work or school. It is so much more rewarding than your usual stretch class as the benefits of hot yoga are abundant.
For those who are unfamiliar with the practice, hot yoga – or also known as Bikram yoga – consists of a series of 26 postures, each focused on maintaining well-controlled contractions of major muscles within the core and legs for a period of time. The 90-minute session is practised in a studio that is heated up to 40°C with humidity levels kept at 40% and is supposed to encourage circulation as well as detoxification of toxins that may be present in the body.
Hot yoga is undeniably amazing for the body since it provides a bevy of advantages that promote one’s overall health and wellbeing. However, the golden question still remains unanswered: is hot yoga actually good or bad for the skin? According to what we know, prolonged exposure to heat and humidity can help to enhance circulation and encourage perspiration, which ultimately helps our bodies to eradicate toxins through the pores of our skin as we sweat. Similar to saunas and steam rooms, the heat enables nutrient-rich blood and oxygen to be effectively delivered to skin cells, which imparts a youthful, healthy radiance to the skin – also referred to the coveted “yoga glow”. On top of that, the exercise poses in hot yoga also assists in reducing cortisol levels, hence allowing the skin to easily repair cell damage while slowing down the ageing effects caused by free radicals. However, all good things come in moderation and hot yoga is no exception to that rule.
Recent research has shown that prolonged heat exposure three times a week is enough to change your skin after six weeks. Such consequences include a substantial decrease in protective antioxidants, wrinkling of the skin, and activated melanocytes (cells that cause age spots). Thus, individuals who are currently suffering from melasma and are actively trying to reduce hyperpigmentation issues should avoid hot yoga classes in general as exposing the skin to heat increases melanin production and actually worsens skin pigmentation. Skin experts have also weighed in that people with sensitive skin should avoid any form of activity that involves intense heat. Hence, individuals who are prone to rosacea and eczema should refrain from practising yoga in heated studios as it could potentially exacerbate their skin conditions.
Aside from the drawbacks of heat exposure, practising intense poses in an extremely humid room can also lead to a build-up of oil in pores due to the perspiration, which may give rise to unwanted breakouts. If you are a die-hard fan hot yoga, here are a few tips to help you protect your skin before and after class to keep your skin revitalised and pores clean.
Go to Class Barefaced
Ladies, we understand how much you love your makeup, but it truly is highly recommended to head to class with a fresh, makeup-free face. Hot yoga has the most effect on your delicate dermis, which involves opening up your pores and non-stop sweating. Combine the oil build-up with a layer of makeup and you have a recipe for disaster that could potentially wreak havoc on your skin. Consider hot yoga as a therapeutic time for your skin to breathe, so do remember to keep some cleansing wipes in your gym bag!
Keep Your Hair Up
Oil from your hair can transfer to your skin, which is a major contributor to breakouts along the hairline and back. To prevent this from happening, always keep your hair tied up and away from your face during hot yoga or any sweat-inducing workout sessions to avoid any hair-to-skin contact.
Sweating is inevitable during hot yoga classes, therefore it is highly essential to increase your water intake before and after sessions to avoid dehydration. Dehydration could have a detrimental impact on your skin by making it way too dry, which in turn leads to dead skin and dirt build-up that can clog pores. So, do not forget to drink up to restore that rejuvenated radiance to your skin.
Cool Off And Moisturise
Dry off with a cold towel or rinse up with cool water immediately after class as it will help to flush out the oil from your pores before they get clogged. Since your post-Bikram pores are now wide open and ready to absorb some nutrients, it is high time to slather on some rich moisturising serums to give your skin the tender loving care that it deserves and lock that glow in. Besides, doing so will help to effectively soothe any chafing that you might have experienced during the session, and keeps the skin from getting dry or irritated later in the day.