Author Topic: Generating Heat  (Read 7353 times)

David Williams

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Generating Heat
« on: April 06, 2007, 09:23:41 PM »
Hi David,
My name is Robert. I've been practicing ashtanga since 2005.
I have great difficulty with generating heat during my practice.
My it does appear my practice is effortless. Unfortunately, very
often instead of being more and more hot during my practice
my body gradually becomes colder than before starting sun
salutations. What do you think I should do? Is it a temporary
state or is there something wrong with the climate I live in,
or food... ? Thank you very much for help!
Best wishes,

Dear Robert,
You didn't say where you live...
Do you practice in a warm room or in the cold?

I live in Poland. It's usually 23-24 degrees in my room...

Dear Robert,
It seems like your room is warm enough.  Are you doing the deepest possible breathing with constant mulabandha?

Well... I might have difficulty with mulabandha...
I actually have a lot of doubts about the breath and mulabandha...
Should I constantly think about mulabandha during my practice or is it
enough to 'let it manifest on its own' and don't think about it at all? In other
words, should I keep it intentioanally using my muscles and always come
back to it with my thoughts or just let it happen? As for breath, does it
have to be very loud or is it more important to keep it long and consistant?
In Yoga Mala Guruji says that when in poses one should breathe 'as much as
possible'... I'm not sure how to understand it... Could you possibly describe
the most important characteristics of breathing in ashtanga?
Thank you very much for help!

Dear Robert,
You must consciously be engaging mulabandha while breathing as deeply as possible with whatever sound you naturally make.
Can you possible make it to one of my workshops?  You will learn so much and afterwards, you will be able to practice Ashtanga yoga by yourself for the rest of your life. 

Could you answer one more question David? You seem not to mention
uddiyanabandha at all.. Why? Should it be also engaged during the practice?
Should it be also engaged consciously all the time?

Dear Robert,
Prior to learning Ashtanga from K. P. Jois, I had been taught by a previous teacher that, besides doing mulabandha constantly, I was to pull up the uddiyana at the end of the exhale.  When I began practice in Mysore, in 1973, with K. P. Jois, I was doing this.  On the first day of practice with Guruji, he told me that the extra pulling all of the way up of my abdomen was unnecessary.  If I was doing strong mulabandha, the uddiyana would automatically be engaged and that was sufficient. 
Also, speaking of should be doing jalandhara on all forward bends, standing and sitting.  This will perhaps increase your heat.  I have often heard Guruji say, "Without the bandhas, this is not yoga".  This does not mean just mulabandha, it means all of the bandhas.
Another way to incease your heat is to do 10 of each Salutation to the Sun before you start the asanas.  When in the asanas, be in a "firm comfortable posture" (definition of an asana from Patanjali's Yoga Sutras).  If you are straining or uncomfortable in an asana, you will be unable to hold the bandhas as firmly as possible and to breathe as deeply as possible, the 2 factors that are most responsible for increasing heat.  Think about it...the heat doesn't come from the "form of the asana".  It comes from what's invisible, i.e., the bandhas, the deep breathing, and the one pointed concentration.
Aloha and good luck,


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Re: Generating Heat
« Reply #1 on: April 10, 2007, 07:02:56 AM »
This is a topic I very much want to know more about.  I have the opposite of Robert's problem:  I generate a ton of heat, far more than most people in the room if sweat is any measure; and I start to generate it very quickly.  I recognize this has its benefits, but it can also make things very tough in a studio such as the one where I practice.  Even though it is not a "hot yoga" studio, there seems to be a culture there of pre-setting the studios to maintain a temperature of 29 or 30 deg centigrade.  On top of this, windows are all kept closed during practice, including in the summer, fans are kept turned off, so there is very little circulation, and there are no adaptations made regardless of how many people are in the room, which often gets very crowded since all classes are drop-in style.

I love the studio for its teachers and for the vigorous and inventive and often outright fun classes many of them design so creatively.  But it makes me want to cry and rage every time I have to cope with this wall of heat.  I've studied anatomy and exercise physiology because I used to be a physiotherapist and I am pretty certain that there is nothing healthy about working hard in this kind of overheated environment.  My understanding is that it creates far more risks that need to be managed carefully, especially by people like me who overheat easily, than it creates benefits.

Also, it just seems unfair to me:  People's individual tolerance for heat must be distributed across the population like other characteristics.  Those people who are at one end of the spectrum and absolutely can't get hot enough, have the option to put on more layers if they need additional warmth.  But those of us who are at the opposite end can't find ways to lose excessive heat and are put at risk.

Please tell me what you think about the necessity or wisdom of practicing ashtanga in a 30-deg room with the windows closed, fans off, and people packed into the room.  Are there really benefits to creating this environment that I'm just not understanding?