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Archive for Health & Fitness

Sleeping & Steam Baths

A Warm Bath Makes For Good Nights

A significant portion of society experiences difficulty sleeping, particularly during stressful periods in their lives. Those with arthritis and other conditions that cause pain, backache or discomfort know all to well how difficult it is to get comfortable enough to sleep through the night.

Good sleep habits are an essential element in overall health, as the human body requires sleep to rejuvenate and repair minor damages acquired during the day.

Irregular sleep, or non REM sleep, can lead to any number of health related ailments making the person afflicted more susceptible to injury or illness. There is also a significant relationship between sleep deprivation and impaired cognitive and motor functions, in fact a large number of preventable fatal motor vehicle accidents each year are caused as result of extreme fatigue.

Overused and achy muscles coupled with mental stress are an active ingredient for a sleepless night. Setting aside time each night to unwind and relax are indispensable to ensuring a good nights sleep. There is significant scientific data detailing the correlation between bathing and quality sleep patterns. Relaxing for just 20 minutes at the end of the day in a steam shower, or warm bath, will help to regulate the body’s core temperature and increase blood flow. This not only helps to alleviate overtaxed muscles, but also has a calming effect on the brain providing an overall sensation of tranquility. The warm steamy surrounding aid in improving air passage to the lungs. Slow deep breathing will help to slow the bodies internal functions and let the body know that it is time for rest. After a soak or steam shower the body will experience a drop in temperature as it attempts to level out to that of the surrounding room temperature, this will trick the brain into thinking that it is tired, as the body normally drops in temperature during sleep.

Baths, and steam showers in particular, are notorious for combating stress, sore muscles and breathing and sinus problems, issues that also cause most people to experience a decline in active sleep. By regularly harnessing the calming effects of such luxuries it is possible to overcome mild sleep disorders and temporary bouts of insomnia without the use of chemically derived sleep aids, which only make users feel even more tired in the morning.

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Steam Rooms & Yoga

Bikram Yoga is a series of 26 yoga postures, that is essentially practiced in a steam room.  The steam isn’t as thick as your typical steam room, but it exists nevertheless.  Most Bikram Yoga studios turn the temperature up to 110 degrees and create an environment with 100% hummidity by using powerful humidifiers and the effect of sticking 20-50 people in a confined space.  The heater, humidifier, and body heat combine to create an environment almost exactly identical to a steam room.  The only thing missing from a giant steam shower is a drenching ceiling rain, although as you can imagine that affect is created by the sweat of the practicioners.

So why do people practice yoga in a steam room?  Well, Bikram Heat Yoga was invented by Bikram Choudhury, the founder of the Yoga College of India.  Studio’s with Bikram’s name on it can be found in almost every city in the country — even small towns.  All of these people believe in two things not completely supported by science: the benefits of yoga and the benefits of steam.  One thing is certain – the feeling of peace and satisfaction achieved after a heated yoga class is one of the most unrivaled highs that mankind can achieve. Unlike drugs, it is a high of pure health and wellness.  The first thing you will notice when you walk into a Bikram Yoga Studio is that everyone is shirtless, everyone has great skin, and everyone is in pretty good shape.  You run into 50 year olds who look 32, and 32 year olds who look 17. 

The purpose of this article isn’t to tell you about yoga.  There is enough information about that all over the Internet.  I’m just looking to make a point: the benefits of doing in a steam room are non-debateable.  They exist.  Try it, and you will believe.