Sweating and hot yoga kind of go hand-in-hand. But if sweating with the yogis results in a red heat rash all over your body, you might have second thoughts about ever entering a hot yoga room again. Take heart. Most of the time heat rash isn’t anything more than an annoyance. It is the least dangerous condition among other heat illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke. There are several things you can do to avoid breaking out in an ugly, itchy rash on your way to a healthy mind and body.
Clogged Up Pores
When perspiration gets trapped in clogged pores you can develop a rash made up of clusters of small bumps or blisters. The most likely areas to be affected include the neck, armpits, upper chest, elbow creases, groin and under the breasts. Sometimes the rash is accompanied by intense itchiness. Several types of heat rash exist. The most commonly occurring type from vigorous exercise, such as hot yoga, is called miliaria rubra, otherwise known as heat rash.
Get Hot With or Without the Heat
Practiced in a heated room with high humidity, hot yoga takes students through 26 poses performed two times in a 60- to 90-minute sequence. Coined the hot-house workout by some, Bikram and other types of hot yoga are considered safe if performed correctly. Although the driving thought behind working out in a room heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit is that the heat helps boost physical strength, endurance and balance more than conventional yoga sequences, studies have yet to demonstrate that hot yoga is superior in achieving those goals. Yogis with sensitive skin who are prone to heat rash may benefit more from exercising at room temperature rather than in a hot room where the chance of breaking out in a rash might be greater.
Beat the Heat
Although the jury’s still out about whether or not hot yoga trumps other yoga styles in overall fitness, a majority of yogis love the exhilaration that commonly follows sweating, twisting and bending sodden limbs in a hot room. Even for those prone to heat rash, hot yoga is like no other. The good news for those more susceptible to heat rash is you can help prevent prickly breakouts by wearing lightweight, moisture-wicking clothing to class to absorb excess sweat and by taking a shower immediately after workouts to remove it.
Too Hot to Handle Warning Signs
On rare occasions, heat rash signals the beginning of more dangerous heat illnesses. Before you begin a hot yoga class, consult your physician. Warning signs to watch for include dizziness, fatigue, headache, muscle cramps, confusion and rapid, shallow breathing. Get to a cool spot and drink fluids if symptoms like these begin, and seek immediate medical help if they are extreme.
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Tina Boyle has been writing since 2000. Trained as a journalist, she has traveled to over 150 US cities. She specializes in travel, culture, pets, business and social networking and regularly publishes in newspapers, magazines and on Web sites. She received a Bachelor of Arts in writing from the College of Santa Fe.