ask a yogi: hot yoga + camel pose

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How much hot yoga is too much?

you asked...

I’ve been into hot/Bikrams yoga for a few years now. I use to go 3 to 4 times a week. I was absolutely addicted! I’ve since scaled back to 2 or 3 times a month. I’m hoping to ramp that back up to weekly and eventually a few times a week; like when I first started. I was wondering if it’s ever ‘unhealthy’ or too much to go to hot yoga a couple times a week? Is it bad for your body to be in the class environment, sweat as much as you do, etc. that often? - Andrea S
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a yogi answers

Hi Andrea,

I don’t believe practicing hot yoga 3 to 4 times a week is necessarily bad for you unless you have a medical condition such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, an eating disorder, sleep deprivation, heart-related illness or are pregnant. Make sure that you are drinking plenty of water to replenish the fluids that you’ve lost during practice, and, like all experienced yogis, just listen to your body.

If you feel like you need to lie down and rest, do that. Don’t worry if the rest of the class is in Dancer’s pose, and you decide to go into Child’s pose. I suggest you consider diversifying your practice by taking other types of yoga classes such as power, vinyasa, Anusara or Iyengar classes so that you do not get burned out on one particular type of yoga. Hot yoga is a wonderful detoxifying practice but it does not build your upper body strength like some of the other styles, and I have heard some yogis say that since the asana sequencing does not change much from class to class, it is nice to mix it up with other yoga styles. All yoga is good, so mix it up. Good luck and I hope to see you in one of my hot classes!

- Danielle

lululemon camel pose
Does Camel pose make you feel sick?

you asked...

I was wondering why Camel pose makes me feel nauseous. Especially at Bikrams, but really in any yoga format. I have been told that it could be because it is a very vulnerable position when your heart is exposed. Is this true?? - Lindsey
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a yogi answers

Hi Lindsey,

I am not sure if the position of the heart has anything to do with the nausea experienced in Ushtrasana (Camel pose) but believe it may be due to not breathing fully, misalignment in the posture or a release of emotional issues, which can happen in many different yoga postures, even Balaasana (Child’s pose). Camel pose helps us open up the thoracic spine where most of us tend to be relatively tight as compared to our cervical spine (neck) and lumbar spine (lower back).

To avoid nausea, make sure you maintain a deep and effortless breathing pattern and that you are not dropping your head too far back and compressing the cervical spine; keep the shoulder blades hugging together as you support your lower back with your hands; keep lifting the sternum up to avoid compression in your lumbar spine; and come out of the pose slowly while maintaining a steady flow of breath. As your body works itself into postures, emotions tend to come up. If a situation is bothering you off the mat, it can affect your body and practice. So keep breathing deeply and never force your poses.

I hope I provided some helpful pointers to help you in this posture.

- Danielle

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Seems like it might make more sense to have a Bikram teacher answer questions about Bikram rather than a non-Bikram yogi.

Comment by a. — April 26, 2010 @ 11:12 am

I’m a Moksha Yoga instructor, which is not all too different from Bikram. I echo the comments made by Danielle. Personally, I have had times where I was practicing only a few times a month, and then times where I would do at least one class a day in the hot temperatures. As long as you are eating and drinking enough to replenish your body and you work up to that frequency of practice gradually, I see nothing wrong with it. Above all, like she said, listen to your body.
Mixing it up is good too as it breaks down some of the rigid opinions you start to form after doing the same thing many times. All yoga is good for its own reasons and it is nice to learn the same poster from different schools of teaching. Asana is relatively new (within the last century for the most part) so each teacher will teach a different way for different reasons. Enbrace it.

Comment by Brian — April 26, 2010 @ 2:48 pm

I am a certified Bikram yoga instructor and actually Bikram yoga is great for things like diabetes, eating disorders, sleep issues, and all kinds of health problems (even pregnant women can practice a modified series). Of course always consult with your DR. and your certified instructor no matter what kind of yoga you do. I have seen many miraculous transformations in my classes and the Bikram community. Like other styles it is here to heal.

Comment by Meg — April 26, 2010 @ 7:27 pm

I have had several instructors talk about how, because camel pose is a heart-opener, it can bring up a lot of emotions or feelings that translate as a feeling of sickness or nausea. Because we spend a lot of our day in forward fluction, at computers, driving, etc, it can feel like a lot for your body – which may not be used to that feeling. I know in my own practice, the first time I ever did camel I lied down on my mat and cried! For me it is often a pose very connected with emotion and even after 10 years of practice, if I am sad or worried, I often connect with those emotions in that pose. :)

Comment by Annika — April 30, 2010 @ 10:43 am

I recently started getting the nausea/anxiety/faint feeling in camel and even more recently, in wheel pose. I have been spending more time hunched over (unfortunately) while reading, so that could contribute. But, as a physical therapist, I am always a bit concerned that the arteries could be involved when I hear patients talking about those symptoms with certain neck movements. I don’t want anyone to freak out, but it’s something to consider, and really work on not hyper-extending your neck. The “emotions” that you are getting, are not from early trauma or release, it’s your sympathetic nervous system getting upset because you are kinking something that shouldn’t be kinked.

The following is a response from If extending more through your upper back and less through your neck doesn’t help, you may need to get out of the pose, adapt the pose, etc.

“The breathing pattern you describe probably contributes to your dizziness in backbends, but excess back bending of the neck might also cause this. Blood flows to your brain by four arteries: two carotid arteries in your frontal neck and two vertebral arteries that are threaded through holes in the vertebrae of the neck. Extreme back bending of the neck might theoretically constrict the vertebral arteries. If this occurred, and the carotid arteries were unable to compensate for any reason (for example, if they suffered from narrowing, or stenosis), you would experience reduced blood flow to your head. You can often avoid excess bending of the neck in backbends by learning to lift your chest more, so you bend more from the uppermost part of your back instead of your neck.”

Roger Cole, Ph.D., is a certified Iyengar Yoga teacher and a research scientist specializing in the physiology of relaxation, sleep, and biological rhythms. He trains yoga teachers and students in the anatomy, physiology, and practice of asana and pranayama. He is based at North County Yoga Center in Solana Beach, California, and teaches workshops worldwide.

Comment by Sarah — May 15, 2010 @ 1:24 pm

I have no information to back it up, but I have always thought that Camel pose can make me feel sick someitmes and exhausted other times because it is a huge toxin releaser. I also believe firmly in the emotional release theory. I think both of these connect firmly with similar research you will find about acupuncture and chinese medicine where they believe that depression adn anxiety issues are connected not to the brain but to the chest. When I first started doing Camel pose I would nearly black out if I came out of it too fast – yes this was probably a blood pressure issue, but a symptom or a solution? I believe that continuing to do the posture helped to improve my (normally low) blood pressure as well.

Comment by YogaGirl — June 18, 2010 @ 12:48 am

I went to warm yoga last night and after 3/4 of an hour I had to leave the room, my sinuses were full and I felt so nauseous I could not move! I consequently left the room and lay down until class had finished, got home went straight to bed, vomited and this morning I still do not feel well…this is my 3rd attempt at hot/warm yoga. Any clues as to why I am affected so severely. I consider myself in good health. I am a vegetarian and weigh 120 lbs? Went there with an open mind and did not expect to feel so sick?? Would so appreciate if someone could enlighten me. thanks.

Comment by Sarah — October 14, 2010 @ 8:08 am

Hi Sarah! Yoga in a hot room can be quite a challenge. Not only is your body focusing on holding the pose, it’s battling heat. I had the same problems with nausea, and decided hot yoga wasn’t for me. There could be several reasons why you felt nausea/clogged sinuses during the class and I would suggest talking to your doctor about what you experienced.

GEC Online

Comment by lululemon athletica — October 14, 2010 @ 1:53 pm

Hey Sarah, and all readers.
When I did Hot Yoga, which was the FIRST yoga I ever tried in my life, I got to poses that I know now were not too good for me. The advantage of having high temp. in the room while practicing could turn to a misadvantage in no time, if you are not sure a hundred precent what you are doing. I hurt my back in a way that I only felt the pain after a few days. In the practice itself, I only felt a little “cnack” in my mid-back, doing the “Camel” (now I know it was from pulling against my scapulas, that were too tight hurting my spine…).
What I’m trying to say is that not only does immediate damages can occure, such as blood not reaching the brain because of neck-pressure, but also deep injuries tha are hard to fix.
PLEASE – Listen TO Your Instructors. ASK QUESTIONS. If you are not sure, don’t do the asana. Practice safe and true, and you will get to practice yoga for life. Do it half-way honest, and you get damages.

Comment by premium yoga mat — October 24, 2010 @ 2:39 pm

I’ve done hot yoga several times, and I am still divided on whether it’s ‘good’ for me. Definitely, my muscles get a deeper stretch and I like that. My heart rate also goes up, but that is often coupled with nausea so I can’t help but wonder whether I am unnecessarily stressing my system….anybody have any insight?

Comment by Sophie — November 8, 2010 @ 8:44 am

Love Salsa. Would definitely like to give Yoda try. Does anyone have recommendations for hot Yoga studios?

Comment by Toronto Salsa Classes — January 16, 2011 @ 9:35 pm

I agree with Sarah’s comment above, and I’m glad there’s a medical explanation for it. I get dizzy and the world “tips” in a vertigo-like feeling for me when I over-bend my neck during camel. The yoga instructor at the hot yoga studio I tried was going on about “facing your fear of falling” and all that, but I’ve done camel numerous times before in vinyasa yoga class and never had that feeling. I doubt my inner emotional trauma is picky about the yoga class I’m attending before it chooses to manifest, so it must be the way I did the pose. =D

The best advice every yoga class gives is “listen to your body.” If you are resisting the pose simply because you are tired and don’t feel up to it, the teacher will always urge you to push yourself to your limit so next session you can do even better. But at the same time, balance it by being aware of WHAT the limit is at that point in time, so it doesn’t result in real injury.

Comment by Joyce — February 4, 2011 @ 1:45 am

Listening to your body is key. To me exercise has to be about you and not pushing your body too hard and fast too soon because of external factors like the amazing practitioner next to you. A lot of healing takes practicing yoga and you never want to under mind that.

Comment by Cornelius Chiropractor- Dr. John — February 9, 2011 @ 7:34 am

Yoga is a very good way of exercise.. it helps us enhance our body not only physical so as emotional and social aspect. It cleanse our mind. This is really fun and soul-cleansing! great yoga position!

Comment by Chiropractor — February 14, 2011 @ 9:29 pm

definitely Yoga can help people to improve our health and relax our minds.

Comment by Calgary Acupuncture — February 28, 2011 @ 10:40 am

Hey you have answered the questions very well but my opinion is that you should also recommend her to share this problems with other Yoga teacher and then take her next step under these answers.
Well you did a great job and provided with satisfied answers.

Comment by Yoga New York City — September 19, 2011 @ 8:24 pm

Hellio all. Today I experienced nausea during the Camel Pose in a Hot Yoga class. I actually came out of it and retreated to child’s pose. I believe the cause was oxygen deprivation, misalignment and possibly fatigue as it was at the end of the class. I wonder if there are signals to an internal concern or cause/effect relationships? Years ago I had pancreatis so I wondered if internal organs could cause this reaction. Thank you.

Comment by Lynn — August 2, 2012 @ 11:20 pm

I always feel nasuea in camel pose especially if I’m filled with toxins. I just go as deep as I can and if I keep practicing over a few weeks it goes away. It’s the body telling me I’ve put way too much junk in. Yoga forces me to eat healthy because honestly, I don’t think we can practice it while eating crappy.

Comment by Lili — August 18, 2013 @ 4:58 pm

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