Interestingly, recent scientific studies have shown that physical warmth supports a more open, warm emotional response to the world. The study showed that participants who were presented with physical experiences of warmth (i.e. warm coffee and heating pads) showed a greater affinity towards generosity and openness to others than those who experienced physical sensations of cold (iced coffee and ice packs).
If this study proves true, then the practice of “hot yoga” may have found some unexpected support. Moving your body within a space of physical warmth (the typical “Hot” yoga class heats the room to around 90° F), is not only conducive to opening tight hamstrings, but may also be supportive the opening of your heart. When we feel “warm and fuzzy” on the outside, the study shows, it affects us on an emotional level as well. This inner warmth then manifests as tenderness towards others in our thoughts and actions.
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If you find yourself feeling more open and friendly after your yoga practice, it seems there is at least a partially scientific reason behind it. So, it makes sense that after a good yoga practice, we are warmer and more open to everything and everyone (at least for a little while). Because we are energized from having a more open heart and being more social, we are more likely to know how to interact with others and make friends. Being more open to everyone gives us a greater sense of empowerment, and we can take advantage of the empowered open-hearted space to do any work around forgiveness and compassion.
So as the temperatures drop outside, try out yoga to warm your soul. And don’t be surprised the next time you smile at a stranger on the street after your yoga class; you are simply radiating your warmth to the world around you!
Has hot yoga warmed your heart?
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