At Yogalife, to reap the full physical and mental benefits of practice, we encourage all our students to come on a regular basis. Yoga has been known to be paramount in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but in recent times, people have been practicing as a means of alleviating the symptoms of every day illnesses. This has been met with some mixed reviews. So the question remains, should you practice while sick?
From the viewpoint of our studio, our immediate answer is “no”. Our goal is always to provide the best experience possible for our students, so coming to practice while sick compromises that aim. While hot yoga is beneficial for detoxification, the humidity and heat, along with the closeness of clients can accelerate the spread of illness in the room. Pathogens thrive in a hot yoga room, no matter how well we try to maintain the cleanliness of the studio.
Consider this: we spend a significant portion of our class forcefully exhaling, and if ill, any airborne pathogens can travel quickly to nearby practitioners who, at the same time, are inhaling deeply. Heat also has the physiological effect of opening up the skin’s pores, further exposing our bodies to the environment, so any physical contact with bacteria or other viruses can result in immediate illness.
Practicing hot yoga while sick may also aggravate any symptoms one may be experiencing. In the online article, “Yoga and Your Immune System”, Kreg Weiss explains:
“[In yoga] the energy highly needed for your immune system is instead being transferred to the muscles to create movement. This energy is depleted from the body either as mechanical energy (movement) or as heat. This transfer of energy strips the immune system of precious energy resources and begins to limit the immune system’s capacity to produce antibodies.”
So while practicing in the heat may temporarily alleviate symptoms, and provide that feel-good high that only Hot Flow can provide, it may be short-lived and, in the process of healing, make things worse.
So before practicing at the studio while feeling ill, consider your fellow students and whether it may compromise their yoga experience. Also consider whether the practice will benefit your body. For more information on practicing while sick, read the full article by Kreg Weiss: http://kregweiss.ca/2011/11/11/yoga-and-your-immune-system/.