In this article, we talk about how a sauna can complement your yoga practice and help you reach your goals — whether that’s perfecting a new pose, expanding mindfulness, or just feeling healthier overall.
Elevate Your Practice with a Sauna Boost
From your head to your toes, the benefits of sauna are far-reaching. Here are four bodily benefits of sauna to help supplement your yoga routine.
Say goodbye to muscle tension
Working in front of a computer, sitting at a desk, and stress are all factors that can wreak havoc on muscles.
Saunas provide an environment that’s prime for alleviating muscle tension. The concentrated heat increases oxygen and nutrient-rich blood circulation, ultimately helping your body restore its oxygen-depleted muscle tissues.
Further your flexibility
Yoga is a big help when it comes to improving flexibility — especially yin yoga where you typically hold seated postures for longer periods of time than you would in other types of yoga classes. But even with a consistent yoga practice, you may need a little extra help to further your flexibility. This is where sauna time comes into play.
Muscles relax best when heat is involved and tissues can warm up. With the increased temperature, muscles are soothed and have a greater ability to stretch.
One study by Michele Olson, PhD, a principal researcher at Auburn University’s Montgomery Kinesiology Laboratory, had 12 volunteers sit in an infrared sauna for 10-15 minutes. They were then asked to do typical stretches — like hamstring stretches — in the sauna. The same 12 people also were asked to relax in a standard gym environment (which is usually around 70° F) for 10-15 minutes and then complete the same stretches. The results from the study showed stretching in the sauna led to a 205% improvement in flexibility.
Calm your mind
Mindfulness is an integral part of practicing yoga. It allows time to focus on the present moment, connect mind and body, and lean into the beauty of stillness.
Savasana, the final resting pose of yoga, gives you time to practice mindfulness in any class you take.
If you want to expand your mindfulness practice in yoga class or on your own, a sauna is a great resource. Use the time in the sauna to work on intention setting or connecting with your body by closing your eyes and taking soothing, deep breaths.
To do Sauna Before or After Yoga?
This depends on your personal preference and what feels best for your body.
A sauna session can be a great warm-up for a yoga class like Kundalini or restorative, but if you’re doing a more rigorous class, like Bikram, you may want to save the sauna to re-energize your body after a tough class.
To begin with, sit for at least 5 to 10 minutes and allow your body time to adjust to the heat. Likewise, once you get started, take care not to overstretch! If you rush, it can be easy to misjudge where your muscle’s endpoint and overstretch, causing muscle tears or leading to a strain.