COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - It's getting hot around the Midlands inside yoga studios. A new twist on the exercise is rapidly gaining in popularity. It's called "hot yoga."
Hot yoga is a series of yoga poses done in a heated room -- a very heated room, as in 90 to 100 degrees.
We went to H2 For Women, a health spa and gym in Columbia to see just hot 'hot yoga' is.
For an hour or more, those in yoga classes use intense concentration to slowly and gently stretch all parts of the body. Breathing exercises are used to relax, making it easier for the body to push itself.
"Breathing is the hardest thing for me. I don't know. I guess breathing is something you naturally do so it's harder to try and control it," says Colette Callender.
This particular yoga class at the health club, H2 For Women, adds another component: it has literally turned up the heat on the participants. The thermostat is set for 90 degrees, but some hot yoga classes even take it up to 105.
As the temperature climbs, instructor Mitchell Hughes takes the women through 26 poses performed sitting, standing and lying down.
Many find the hot temps make their muscles more pliable.
"It's a good way to stretch out and relax even at the beginning of the day," says Karen Burton.
"I would ache a lot, would hurt a lot and with this, I don't and I just feel a lot better in general," says Diana Stevenson.
Besides warming the muscles, it's believed the intense heat, which causes intense sweating, rids the body of toxins.
"I tell the people to drink a gallon of water the day before they come to hot yoga, throughout that day and going into the class because you will release it," says instructor Mitchell Hughes.
So having water bottles and towels are just as key as having a yoga mat.
The women gladly put up with the heat for the benefits they get, including a strong core, or middle section. It's believed the higher temperatures help increase the body's extension and compression, better delivery of oxygen to every organ, joint and muscle.
"With hot yoga, especially, when I come out of the class, I feel like I've had a massage because your muscles are so relaxed," says Diana Stevenson.
Another twist on yoga gaining in popularity is the yoga club. Mitchell and other instructors travel to your home to teach a class. You get some friends together like you would for a dinner club or a book club and have 'yoga club' instead.