Why it is a Good Idea to Practice Yoga in the Sauna?

For a lot of people, it comes very naturally that they start to stretch themselves in the sauna. It seems as the body knows that stretching under warm temperatures is beneficial for the muscles and fasciae. In other words, it is easier in the sauna to loosen blockages and stiffness in the body then under room temperature. On top of that, you will be able to come deeper into yoga poses that require flexibility. From this fact, for example, Hot and Bikram yoga take advantage of. There is a second reason why one would like to do yoga in the sauna. Maybe you are like me, and it takes ages until you sweat? Usually, I almost not sweat in the first round of the sauna, which makes it harder to bear the heat, especially in the 90+ degrees saunas. Thus, I discovered that I get myself easier sweating by doing some simple yet effective yoga poses.

We Move the Spine in all Directions

From a practical and hygienical point, I think that yoga in the sauna should be limited to seated positions on your towel so that you do not require a lot of space. On the other hand, we still want to move our spine in every direction, which should be a core request of every yoga sequence. Consequently, the practice should involve a backbend, a forward bend, a side bend, and a twist. Especially twists heat up to body from the inside, so that the sweating is not far away anymore 😉. Let us add two exercises for the neck and shoulder area and voila there we are! This easy practice is suitable for almost everyone. Hopefully, you will enjoy the calmness that arises within when practicing the poses with awareness and conscious breathing. Your mind will have another focus, and you can put your attention away from the intensity of the heat. Consequently, the time will fly much faster than usual in the sauna.

Yoga in the Sauna: A Small Warning on the Side

However, I need to add some warnings. If you have any health issues, peculiarly high blood pressure, please talk to your physician first, if he agrees on yoga in the sauna. Always listen to your own body and accept its limitations with ease. Do not overdo the stretches and leave the sauna if you feel any dizziness. And like always: please drink enough water before and after the sauna.

Presets to Consider

The perfect temperature for yoga in the sauna is for me between 70 to 90 degrees, so not the super-hot 100 degrees. If you have the time, do three full rounds of sauna. You could do the first round with the yoga sequence I am offering here. The second round could go along with meditating on your breath. And the third round, you could simply enjoy socializing and chatting with your friend or sweating neighbor (if the sauna rules allow that).

Overview of the Flow for Yoga in the Sauna

2 min. of centering into the body and breath
1 min. cat-cow
2 min. stretch of the neck
2 min. seated twist
2 min. eagle arms
2 min. seated side bend
2 min. glute muscles stretch
This is a total of 13 minutes. Leave the poses towards the end away if you want to stop the session earlier.

Yogas in the Sauna

Centering into the body and breath

• Come sitting on your towel very at the edge of the bench. Ideally, there is a 90-degree angle between thighs and your lower legs. And a 90-degree angle between your lower legs and the back of your feet. Feet are hip-width apart.
• Close your eyes.
• With an inhalation, elongate your spine and the sides of your body by pulling the shoulders up.
• The exhalation lets the shoulders sink back into the wideness. With the lowest part of the shoulder blades uplift your heart. Without allowing the shoulders to fall to the front again, relax the muscles in your neck and upper body.
• Softly tune into your body, feeling it from the inside. Make yourself a picture of your status now.
• Get aware of your breath and the breathing rhythm.
• A small friendly smile might appear on your lips. Take this feeling into the practice.

Cat - Cow Pose

Cat-cow

• For cat-cor in a seated position, pull your sitting bones back and apart, and then put your hands on your knees. Please keep your arms long throughout the exercise as the exercise would not be so beneficial if you bend your elbows. You could keep your eyes closed.
• With an inhalation, tilt your hip forward and uplift your heart, so that you bring your spine into a small backbend. You could ly the head softly into the neck so that you feel a stretch from the chin down till the pubic bone.
• With an exhalation, you come into the opposite flexion. Rounding your back far back and pulling your chin to your chest.
• Alternate the movement with the breath. Do this for around 8-10 breaths.

Stretch of the Nexk

Stretch of the neck

• Bring your lower left arm on your back, reaching out and holding onto your right arm. The inside of the right elbow is pointing forward.
• Press your lower back into your left lower arm. This small movement fills your back and prevents falling into the lumbar spine.
• Then tilt your head with to the left. So your left ear comes closer to the left shoulder. Probably you already feel a stretch in the target area of your right neck. Wonderful! Stay here and relax with every exhale a bit more.
• You could try intensive the stretch by moving the chin a very, very tiny little bit from right to left, finding a sweet spot in which you stay for 1 minute around. Still, do not overstretch yourself: 70-80% of your maximum range is excellent.
• Do not forget the second side! Each side around 1 minute is super great.
• After the exercise, shake your shoulders a bit. Freely move the head from right to left.

Seated Twist

Seated twist

• Make sure your sitting bones are still wide apart from each other. Put your right thigh over your left thigh.
• With an inhalation, elongate your spine.
• With an exhalation, bring your right hand on high fingers behind your buttocks and your left hand on your right thigh. It is the heart that leads this movement. When you rotated the maximum with the heart area, the head can come as well into the twist. Do not put stress on the neck.
• Every time inhaling, you can think the spine long, every time exhaling, intensive the twist slightly. Let go a little of the twist before inhaling again.
• After 1 minute change the legs and twist to the other side.
• Are you sweating already?

Eagle Arms Pose

Eagle Arms Pose

• Stretch your arms forward, palms are looking at each other, and bring the right elbow over the left elbow.
• Lift the forearms so that they are pointing into the direction of heaven.
• Now bring the right hand to the left and the left hand to the right.
• Grab the right thumb with the fingers of the left hand, or place the left palm on the right palm. The thumbs are both pointing into the direction of your nose. If you cannot reach this, press the backside of hands together, thumbs still pointing direction nose.
• Do you feel now a stretch between your shoulders?
• You could work in the pose, by uplifting your elbows with an inhalation a bit more while at the same time, the shoulder blades sink deeper down direction the pockets of your trouser (imagined trouser 😉).
• And with the expiration, bring your thumbs a little bit further away from the tip of your nose.
• Practicing 1 minute eagle arms per side is sufficient.
• After the pose, feel what has changed in your body.

 

Seated Twist

Seated twist

• Make sure your sitting bones are still wide apart from each other. Put your right thigh over your left thigh.
• With an inhalation, elongate your spine.
• With an exhalation, bring your right hand on high fingers behind your buttocks and your left hand on your right thigh. It is the heart that leads this movement. When you rotated the maximum with the heart area, the head can come as well into the twist. Do not put stress on the neck.
• Every time inhaling, you can think the spine long, every time exhaling, intensive the twist slightly. Let go a little of the twist before inhaling again.
• After 1 minute change the legs and twist to the other side.
• Are you sweating already?

Glute Muscle Stretch

Glute muscles stretch

• Bring the right ankle on top of the left knee and flex the right foot.
• The right hand presses into the right knee, and the left hand presses into the left food. You could imagine pressing the lower leg together like an accordion.
• With an inhalation, uplift your heart and get longer in the spine.
• Lean forward with a long and straight spine.
• Hopefully, you feel a tension in your right outer hip as this is the target area. If not, you could press your right knee a little bit more down.
• Stay in this position for another minute before you change the sides.

So, will you try this flow your next time in the sauna? Please let me know here in the comments how you liked it and how you felt afterward.