Hot yoga offers an ‘intimate’ experience

Various Fresno State athletic teams are experimenting with hot yoga — the practice of yoga in a room heated anywhere from 98 to 105 degrees.

Bikram Yoga, a precursor of hot yoga, is a practice which consists of 26 postures done

within 90 minutes. Each posture has its own variety of benefits for the body from blood

circulation all the way to digestive aids, instructors say.

Hot yoga has been adopted and implemented into the regimen of various Fresno State athletic programs, from football and basketball to baseball and tennis.

Johnny Olguin, the director of strength and training for all Fresno State athletics, said he is definitely a big-time believer.

Olguin introduced hot yoga to his student-athletes some years ago, and would have them attend Bikram classes at Blue Moon Yoga at least once a week. Many of the athletes, although resistant at first, now seem to believe in the practice, and have even continued their yoga practice long after it is mandatory in their school workouts.

Olguin, a hot yoga and Bikram practitioner for the last five years, speaks of transcendence and how it began as curiosity and became a lifestyle.

“It is so intimate, and it changed my life,” he said.

Olguin also said that the entire yoga community is like being on a sports team, which is why he explains that adding yoga to his athletes workout regimen is a positive.

“The practice of hot yoga helps with athletes recovery and longevity, which is necessary when you’re an athlete at this level,” he said.

Olguin also said yoga is a major stress reliever and has introduced the practice to other Fresno State coaches to help them have an outlet for job stress. Not only is this age-old practice benefiting student-athletes, but it is also positively impacting the Fresno State coaching staff, he said.

Britney Easton, owner of Blue Moon Yoga, touts the practice of yoga in a heated room as being beneficial when it comes to avoiding injury.

“The heat allows the athletes to get deeper into postures. It pushes them in their flexibility and definitely helps in avoiding injury,” she said.

Easton points to cardiovascular benefits that yoga can have when practiced in a heated room, especially for athletes of the Valley where temperatures can rise well above 105 degrees.

“For the football players, especially, the yoga done in the heat can really help out with building up their lungs and stamina. I mean, they practice outside in the summer so the studio can be good conditioning to add to their already rigorous training,” Easton said.

Beyond the physical benefits are the mental and spiritual rewards that can come from any yoga practice, Olguin said.

Ryan Overland, an assistant baseball coach for Fresno State, agrees there is more to this yoga practice for the athletes than merely an added workout.

“The practice makes you challenge your limits in deciding what your body can actually do.”  Overland said. “It pushes your limits to question, can I not physically do this? Or, am I just scared to push my limits? And that applies to lots of aspects of life.”

Over all, he is also a believer and has been practicing hot yoga for about a year. He said it’s not only the physical challenge but the mental challenge that keeps him coming back.

Olguin said, one of the biggest perks is the sense of community that a yoga family can bring to one’s life.

“There is no demographic here. There are 15-year-olds all the way to 80-year-olds. It’s a team,” he said.