Is Hot Yoga Right for Me? @ClevelandClinic

Most people understand the basic health benefits of yoga: flexibility, stress relief and muscle strength, just to name a few. But why is it different when you turn up the heat? Is the increase in degrees a gimmick or is it actually beneficial to your health?

What is hot yoga, anyway?

Hot yoga is exactly what it sounds like — yoga practiced in a hot environment. Most hot yoga classes have an increased room temperature set anywhere between 90 and 105 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s quite a difference compared to normal room temperature (68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit). Why so hot? The heat helps lubricate tendons and ligaments, making it easier to fold into certain stretches and poses. “The heat allows participants to get a deeper stretch because their body is warmer and they can move into the poses a little deeper,” says yoga instructor Jennifer Sauer.

The potential pros of hot yoga are:

  • Increased flexibility.
  • Muscle-building.
  • Body-toning.
  • Reduced stress.
  • Detoxification.
  • Weight loss.
  • Reduced pain.

On the flip side, it can also be easy to overdo it in a hot yoga class. Because of the high temperature in the room, you might not realize how hard you’re working and you could end up taking stretches too far before your body is ready.

The potential cons of hot yoga are:

  • Dehydration.
  • Higher risk of injury.
  • Dizziness.
  • Lightheadedness.
  • Trouble breathing.

Hot yoga should be something that you ease into. So taking some regular yoga classes first and getting an idea of your current flexibility level is recommended. Beginner yoga classes also help build on your knowledge of the poses and sequences.

“While people have reported pain relief, detoxification and weight loss from hot yoga, scientific research is limited,” Sauer says. “It’s safe to say that hot yoga is more vigorous than traditional practices,” she notes, “but the jury is still out on overall calorie burn and weight loss.”

When you combine hotter temperatures with extra exertion, your body is working harder and therefore increasing your heart rate. So, ultimately, you are burning a good amount of calories during your hot yoga session — the data just doesn’t exist yet for hot yoga specifically.

Who should avoid hot yoga?

Like other types of exercise, hot yoga isn’t for everyone. Hot yoga is not suggested for those who are pregnant or have a heart condition. The heat can also aggravate asthma.

Sauer recommends looking out for side effects such as dizziness, lightheadedness and not being able to take a deep breath in. “If that happens, return to a stable position or leave the studio until you feel better,” she says. “It’s important to stay hydrated and listen to your body.”

Think you’re ready to give it a shot?

When it comes to hot yoga — try attending a few basic or beginner yoga classes first. Then when you feel comfortable, try incorporating a heated class.   

Here’s how to find the best yoga class for you.

“There are different styles of yoga, so if you try a class that doesn’t appeal to you, try another type of yoga or a different instructor,” Sauer says. “The heat isn’t for everyone — and that’s perfectly OK!”

Recipe: Pumpkin Spice Cookies @ClevelandClinic

Recipe: Pumpkin Spice Cookies

Who says pumpkin spice is only exciting in latte form?

Don’t just reserve pumpkin for pumpkin spice lattes and pie! These easy spice cookies are a great way to spread the pumpkin love throughout the entire season.

If you don’t have any aluminum-free baking powder in your cupboard, pick some up the next time you go shopping. Aluminum may pose potential risks to your health as a neurotoxin. While the dose of aluminum is what makes the poison, some studies show a relationship between aluminum that is stored in your body and neuro-disorders (such as Alzheimer’s disease.) Limiting exposure to all metals is a protective measure we can take to optimize our health.

Ingredients

1 cup pumpkin puree, fresh or canned
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup vegan palm shortening or melted coconut oil
1 cup oat flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Pinch sea salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Mix the pumpkin, syrup, applesauce, vanilla and shortening (or oil if using) in a large bowl. Alternatively, place in a blender and blend until combined.
  3. In a separate medium bowl sift the oat flour, almond flour, baking soda, baking powder and spices together.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix to combine. Then fold in the pecans and chocolate chips.
  5. Scoop 1 tablespoon of batter onto a large baking pan lined with parchment paper. Repeat until all batter is used. Place baking pan into the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until just slightly firm. Remove the cookies from the oven and serve warm or room temperature.
  6. Store uneaten cookies in a sealed glass container at room temperature for two days or in the refrigerator for up to five days.

Nutrition information (per serving)

Makes 3 dozen cookies

Calories: 43
Total fat: 2 g
Saturated fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Fiber: 1 g
Protein: 1 g
Carbohydrate: 5 g
Sodium: 25 mg

— Recipe courtesy of Mark Hyman, MD.

Recipe: Pumpkin Spice Cookies @ClevelandClinic

Recipe: Pumpkin Spice Cookies

Who says pumpkin spice is only exciting in latte form?

Don’t just reserve pumpkin for pumpkin spice lattes and pie! These easy spice cookies are a great way to spread the pumpkin love throughout the entire season.

If you don’t have any aluminum-free baking powder in your cupboard, pick some up the next time you go shopping. Aluminum may pose potential risks to your health as a neurotoxin. While the dose of aluminum is what makes the poison, some studies show a relationship between aluminum that is stored in your body and neuro-disorders (such as Alzheimer’s disease.) Limiting exposure to all metals is a protective measure we can take to optimize our health.

Ingredients

1 cup pumpkin puree, fresh or canned
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup vegan palm shortening or melted coconut oil
1 cup oat flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Pinch sea salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Mix the pumpkin, syrup, applesauce, vanilla and shortening (or oil if using) in a large bowl. Alternatively, place in a blender and blend until combined.
  3. In a separate medium bowl sift the oat flour, almond flour, baking soda, baking powder and spices together.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix to combine. Then fold in the pecans and chocolate chips.
  5. Scoop 1 tablespoon of batter onto a large baking pan lined with parchment paper. Repeat until all batter is used. Place baking pan into the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until just slightly firm. Remove the cookies from the oven and serve warm or room temperature.
  6. Store uneaten cookies in a sealed glass container at room temperature for two days or in the refrigerator for up to five days.

Nutrition information (per serving)

Makes 3 dozen cookies

Calories: 43
Total fat: 2 g
Saturated fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Fiber: 1 g
Protein: 1 g
Carbohydrate: 5 g
Sodium: 25 mg

— Recipe courtesy of Mark Hyman, MD.

Recipe: Pumpkin Spice Cookies @ClevelandClinic

Recipe: Pumpkin Spice Cookies

Who says pumpkin spice is only exciting in latte form?

Don’t just reserve pumpkin for pumpkin spice lattes and pie! These easy spice cookies are a great way to spread the pumpkin love throughout the entire season.

If you don’t have any aluminum-free baking powder in your cupboard, pick some up the next time you go shopping. Aluminum may pose potential risks to your health as a neurotoxin. While the dose of aluminum is what makes the poison, some studies show a relationship between aluminum that is stored in your body and neuro-disorders (such as Alzheimer’s disease.) Limiting exposure to all metals is a protective measure we can take to optimize our health.

Ingredients

1 cup pumpkin puree, fresh or canned
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup vegan palm shortening or melted coconut oil
1 cup oat flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Pinch sea salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Mix the pumpkin, syrup, applesauce, vanilla and shortening (or oil if using) in a large bowl. Alternatively, place in a blender and blend until combined.
  3. In a separate medium bowl sift the oat flour, almond flour, baking soda, baking powder and spices together.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix to combine. Then fold in the pecans and chocolate chips.
  5. Scoop 1 tablespoon of batter onto a large baking pan lined with parchment paper. Repeat until all batter is used. Place baking pan into the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until just slightly firm. Remove the cookies from the oven and serve warm or room temperature.
  6. Store uneaten cookies in a sealed glass container at room temperature for two days or in the refrigerator for up to five days.

Nutrition information (per serving)

Makes 3 dozen cookies

Calories: 43
Total fat: 2 g
Saturated fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Fiber: 1 g
Protein: 1 g
Carbohydrate: 5 g
Sodium: 25 mg

— Recipe courtesy of Mark Hyman, MD.

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Cleveland Clinic: How to get back to sleep and why it’s so important:

cleveland back to sleep

Your bed should be a place of relaxation and rejuvenation. But if you’re having trouble sleeping, that’s likely not the case.

Not only can not sleeping be frustrating, but getting a good night’s sleep is vital to maintaining your overall health and mental well-being. Seven or more hours of quality sleep each night recharges your body physically, but can also help flush toxins from your brain and allow your mind to fully rest — which assist in your mental alertness, decision-making, and overall clarity the next day.  And if you’re sick, your brain needs to be in tip-top shape to help you recover.

That’s why sleep expert Nancy Foldvary-Schaefer, DO, says you should do everything you can to address any sleep issues you’re experiencing.

Different ways your sleep can be interrupted

Besides external influences like recurring noises (from a crying infant to a snoring partner) or travel-related time changes that keep you up at night, sleep deprivation may come in many other forms.

“For example, some people experience chronic insomnia — a sleep disorder in which you have trouble falling and/or staying asleep,” Dr. Foldvary-Schaefer says. “Others may experience cycles of waking up but not being able to get back to sleep.“

And sometimes, even if you’re able to fall asleep but were focused on unresolved issues or worries right before you closed your eyes — this may affect the quality of sleep you actually achieve. “You may find yourself groggy in the morning or feeling tired, cranky or unproductive,” Dr. Foldvary-Schaefer says. “Also, a lack of sleep can affect your judgement and emotional response to otherwise normal daily activities.”

How stress can affect your sleep

Many of us tend to bring our daily stress to bed with us — which is exactly the place it doesn’t belong. It’s not easy to leave stress at the end of your day. But keeping these stressful thoughts in focus right before sleep can definitely prevent you from getting some good shuteye.

“This is something you should try to avoid whenever possible, as it can cause a variety of sleep problems,” Dr. Foldvary-Schaefer notes. “It may take practice, but committing to stress-reduction behaviors at the end of your day is very important. The more active you are in kicking stress out of bed each night, the more likely your overall sleep quality will improve.”

How to de-stress before bed

You may not be aware that bringing stress to bed could be causing a negative cycle to form. If you have trouble falling asleep, the longer you lie awake, the more aggravated you may become. Soon you may unknowingly associate your bed as a place of discomfort, rather than one of comfort. The key is to remove any negative association with your sleep space by forming healthy pre-sleep habits. Dr. Foldvary-Schaefer offers these tips for developing better pre-sleep practices:

  • Plan for tomorrow earlier in the evening — Carve out time each night before or after dinner to “wrap up” your thoughts about the last 24 hours. Plotting out your next day well before bedtime can help you check that “planning box” early enough to give yourself time to transition and quiet your mind before bed.
  • Get up if you’re not asleep after 20 minutes — It may be a good idea to take your frustrations to a different room and leave them there — literally. A short walk will get your brain actively focused on motor coordination, rather than worrying. Write down what’s on your mind on a piece of paper and revisit it in the morning. You’ll return to bed anticipating a fresh perspective in the morning (a best practice, anyway) — and leave your bedroom as your special place to rest and relax.
  • Develop your pre-sleep ritual — Take a walk after dinner to catch a sunset, take a long bath or enjoy a nightly cup of caffeine-free herbal tea.
  • Avoid overstimulation — Avoid not eating, working, or browsing a screen of any kind in bed. Reading a book off-screen may help, or enjoying a relaxing playlist to give your mind something to connect with, but not be overstimulated by.
  • Practice yoga or meditation — Closing your eyes, practice simple mindfulness, awareness or concentrated focus on your breathing for five minutes. This can help your body and mind relax — and transition  you to a more restful sleep.

If trying some of the strategies above to reduce or manage your stress aren’t helping your insomnia, cognitive behavioral therapy (or CBT-i) might be a good option.

“CBTi is a structured program that helps you identify and replace thoughts and behaviors that cause (or worsen) sleep problems with new habits and thought patterns that promote healthy sleep,” explains sleep expert Michelle Drerup, PsyD.

“CBTi is offered by trained specialists nationwide, including at many larger hospitals or academic medical centers,” Dr. Drerup adds. “There are also several online programs, such as Cleveland Clinic’s Go! to Sleep program.”

Illness may be the reason you can’t sleep

A lack of sleep may also indicate a variety of sleep disorders or other health concerns that need to be addressed with proper medical diagnosis and treatment. Once your medical conditions are treated, you may eventually see your sleep improve.

Underlying medical conditions that may prevent you from sleeping include:

  •  Chronic pain.
  •  Acid reflux.
  •  Restless legs syndrome (RLS).
  •  Sleep apnea (in both men and women).
  •  Hormonal changes caused by menopause.
  •  Narcolepsy.
  •  Diabetes.
  •  Night terrors.
  •  Sleepwalking.
  •  Depression.
  •  Common issues related to aging.

“If any of these are the case, you likely won’t sleep comfortably through the night until the problem is identified and properly treated by a knowledgeable primary care physician or specialist,” Dr. Foldvary-Schaefer says.

Make sure you keep track of symptoms you are experiencing, and tell your doctor about them as soon as possible. Your primary care physician may explore your sleep history and/or give you a physical examination. This could include examining your upper airway muscles, for example. If sleep apnea is suspected, you may be referred to a sleep disorders center for a comprehensive sleep study. Or you may be suffering from other conditions that could result in treatments like short-term hormone replacement therapy, antidepressants or other kinds of medicines — all which depend upon proper diagnosis.

Be aware and stay proactive 

Overall, the key to getting better sleep comes from first identifying your sleepless activity, reducing your stress before you hit your bed, and talking with your doctor if you notice other symptoms — so you can get back on track to a good night’s sleep.

If You’re Having Trouble Sleeping, Here’s What To Do