Varicose Veins and Yoga in a Hot Room
Dr. Kathie M. Black, PhD
This post is an answer to a great question I received this week from a fellow yoga teacher. It was such a great question and consequent research adventure for me that I felt it was important to share with the rest of the world. Enjoy!
Question: I have had a student ask the question as to whether yoga in a hot room is valuable for varicose veins. Her doctor told her absolutely no as it causes too much vasodilation. Do you have any research you can point me to suggesting the real facts?
Peace, Beth ox
Hi Beth – let’s start with an exploration into why vasodilation might be a bad thing… here are the definitions from Wikipedia on Varicose Veins and Vasodilation:
Varicose veins are veins that have become enlarged and tortuous. The term commonly refers to the veins on the leg, although varicose veins can occur elsewhere. Veins have leaflet valves to prevent blood from flowing backwards (retrograde flow or reflux). Leg muscles pump the veins to return blood to the heart (the calf muscle pump mechanism), against the effects of gravity. When veins become varicose, the leaflets of the valves no longer meet properly, and the valves do not work (valvular incompetence). This allows blood to flow backwards and they enlarge even more. Varicose veins are most common in the superficial veins of the legs, which are subject to high pressure when standing. Besides being a cosmetic problem, varicose veins can be painful, especially when standing. Severe long-standing varicose veins can lead to leg swelling, venouseczema, skin thickening (lipodermatosclerosis) and ulceration. Life-threatening complications are uncommon, but varicose veins may be confused with deep vein thrombosis, which may be life-threatening.[medical citation needed]
Vasodilation (or vasodilatation) refers to the widening of blood vessels. It results from relaxation of smooth muscle cells within the vessel walls, in particular in the large veins, large arteries, and smaller arterioles. In essence, the process is the opposite of vasoconstriction, which is the narrowing of blood vessels.
When blood vessels dilate, the flow of blood is increased due to a decrease in vascular resistance. Therefore, dilation of arterial blood vessels (mainly the arterioles) decreases blood pressure. The response may be intrinsic (due to local processes in the surrounding tissue) or extrinsic (due to hormones or the nervous system). In addition, the response may be localized to a specific organ (depending on the metabolic needs of a particular tissue, as during strenuous exercise), or it may be systemic (seen throughout the entire systemic circulation).
So, to deconstruct vasodilation, what the doctor is probably referring to is the chance that excessive heat could cause a drop in blood pressure – which might result in fainting, falling, etc. as well as the blood flow back into the veins (see first paragraph).
Here is what I think on the situation: Heat is one of the leading treatments for painful varicose veins. Site after site and research study after research study listed applying heat packs as one of the best ways to reduce the pain of varicose veins. Heat helps speed blood circulation and moves blood away from the smaller veins and is sent back through the system in the larger pathways.
Common causes of varicose veins are people who are on their feet all day, genetics, or even those of us who hyper extend our knees. One of the key ingredients to good blood flow is adequate temperature of the body and clear air pathways. When people are typically practicing yoga in extremely hot temperatures (as some studios can get), their breathing becomes shallow, less oxygen is taken in, and blood flow is restricted. Couple this with improper alignment with locking up or impeding blood flow through the joints, and you can end up with an increase in symptomology of varicose veins. Interestingly, there was no specific clinical research on varicose veins and hot yoga – only listed as one of the many maladies that are helped with yoga.
There are some easy answers for your student to continue practicing yoga, though; and one of these is to use infrared heat in the studio rather than forced air or traditional heating. Infrared heat heats objects, not the surrounding air, so the student will be able to breathe better and have better oxygen flow to the system. In addition, infrared heat aids in better circulation throughout the entire body, so this will help ensure the blood pathways are clear. In addition to having infrared heat in the studio, I would encourage the student to have an infrared sauna in their home where they can have a full session with infrared therapy to increase their blood flow. Infrared heat and infrared probes are all listed as the leading forms of therapy for diagnosis as well as reduction of varicose veins. If you’d like more information about heating your studio with infrared, please see Yoga Panels.com and let them know I’ve sent you. If you’d like to refer your student to find her own infrared sauna, please see Blackstone Saunas. Through the past nine years I have researched and followed the research on the health benefits on infrared and am finding it increasingly used in therapy for increased circulation.
Another great thing that you have in your teacher’s tool kit are the universal principles of alignment that ensure your student has proper body alignment that will allow for blood movement through the joints flow easily. Encourage your student to always have the “micro-bend” in the knee and to practice “legs up the wall” daily. You cannot over emphasize the value of this 15-minute daily practice. If you are actively planning practices for this student, I would recommend Yin and Restoratives with lots of legs up the wall and some gentle Hatha. A Flow or Vinyasa practice will help with circulation; however, if the student has problems with locking their knees, there could be several problematic areas with these styles. Walking, simple walking around the block a few times followed by a gentle restorative practice (that includes legs up the wall – with lots of variety as you go along) will help this student. Personally, I discourage yoga in very hot rooms unless it is a Yin or Restorative – and then only if heated by infrared as the temperatures do not have to be as high and the students get the great benefits of infrared as well as more comfort in breathing.
Heat & Healing,
Heat to Heal
Heat to Heal Field of Dreams
“Build it, and they will come” the famous line from Kevin Costner’s movie, “Field of Dreams” has been our personal mantra from the inception of, and throughout, the building of Heat to Heal Training Facility and Sanctuary. Whenever I or my husband would become discouraged, impatient, or unsure of this project, we would repeat this mantra to one another. We expressed this thought to those closest to us – our dear family, friends, and colleagues. “Build it, and they will come”. Heads nodded and all understood. So, we have gone forward with faith that, indeed, this would be the case. Heat to Heal Field of Dreams is a reality!
Today the reality of this mantra opening up and becoming a reality is clear and poignant for me as people are making their way here.
Jaime Michelle started her trek from Utah today, Krisanna is coming soon from California, new students are coming from North Vancouver, our local area, and even from Spain. Karen’s plane flights were booked yesterday for her travel here in May!
Wonderful works of art began their travel here today, too, with the shipping of the amazing work of art entitled, “The Tree of Light” by Jaime Michelle that has a special meaning to me and my own personal faith based on the story of Lehi’s Dream in the Book of Mormon. A long awaited incredible Chakra set of especially designed crystal singing bowls from Steven and John at Crystal Tones – that includes a unique “Grandmother Practitioner Bowl” chosen especially by Steven for my personal practice was sent today as well. We are looking forward to Steven and John coming to our facility and offering of their incredible talents and skills with crystal singing bowls soon and are happy to announce that Heat to Heal and Blackstone Saunas are now distributors of Crystal Tones Singing Bowls! What a wonderful blessing this will bring to so many of our clients, students, colleagues, and therapy patients. Brenda Feurstein is sending Georg Feuerstein’s philosophy manuals in time for next week and we want to warmly thank Brenda for all her help in the last few days – we can’t wait to meet you! Our other texts are on their way from Amazon. Windows, doors, beds, and more are in Vancouver waiting for customs to clear, and are almost here. Landscaping is going in, sound system tonight, pansies waiting patiently for potting, lesson plans coming together, but most importantly, are these wonderful wonderful blessings of people coming – coming to Heat to Heal.
We have built it – they are coming.
I am overwhelmed with gratefulness.
Heat and Healing,
Announcing Today: 200 and 500 Hour Yoga Teacher Trainings at Heat to Heal
Heat Up with 200 and 500 Hour Yoga Teacher Trainings at Heat to Heal! Heal Training Facility and Sanctuary Announced our 200 Hour and 500 Hour Yoga Teacher Trainings today on the Canadian Yoga Alliance and the Canadian Yoga Directory. These events are also listed on our website and our Heat to Heal Facebook Page as well. We are so thrilled to announce these trainings and see the Heat to Heal Training Facility coming to life. The new infrared studio is on it’s final stages of construction (shower tile and trim work finishing today)! The space is lovely and beautifully heated with infrared panels provided by Blackstone Saunas! Our new doors and windows will be here in April, but the space is completely usable and WONDERFUL today!!
Our Heat to Heal Therapy Centre is also complete – please see our lovely photos throughout this website as well as on our Heat to Heal Facebook Page. In fact, today we are hoping to get our readership on our Heat to Heal Facebook Page up to 100! The 100th “LIKE” will receive a $25.00 gift certificate for any of our products or services offered from Heat to Heal or Blackstone Saunas. So, if you’ve been wanting that infrared sauna, this is a chance to get $25.00 off the already fabulous prices on our saunas. Or, if you’ve been needing to treat yourself to that Reiki Treatment or need a Yoga Therapy appointment, this is a great incentive to book your appointment today!
So, more information on our 200 Hour and 500 Hour Yoga Teacher Trainings!
This is taken from our Heat to Heal Training Facility Page – it is important to us that you realize what we are all about at Heat to Heal!!
Heat to Heal™ Philosophy
Despite its numerous approaches to practice, yoga has one underlying purpose: removing suffering and infusing life with joy and fearlessness. Yoga’s fundamental premise is that to be born as a human is a blessing. Human birth is an opportunity to attain the freedom and fulfillment that our soul inherently seeks. The door to freedom and fulfillment opens when we come to know who we are; where we come from; what our intrinsic qualities attributes, strengths and weaknesses are; and where the road we have chosen will lead.
From Pandit Rajmani Tigunait in “The Legacy of the Sages”, Yoga International, Winter 2011-12, pg34-41 (bold italics added)
The unique philosophy of Heat to Heal™ is to incorporate yoga as wellness into our individual daily lives, and to take the approach of teaching the full yogic tradition and grounding it fully in appropriate and effective teaching practices. In addition, Heat to Heal™ incorporates scientific research, a full range of Holistic Therapies and modalities with regard to health and nutrition, and exploration of nature to enhance and encourage a mindful approach to the yogic lifestyle.
Heat to Heal™ Mission Statement
The mission of Heat to Heal Training Facility as a premier provider of destination-based yoga teacher trainings, retreats, workshops, and events is to promote joy, adventure, solid teacher education focus, and wellness lifestyle planning within a yogic framework and philosophy including the principles of peace, home, love, healing, playfulness, mutual respect, safety, quiet reflection, and joyful experiences.
Heat to Heal™ Training Facility
All trainings, retreats, workshops, and events are housed at the amazing Heat to Heal™ Sanctuary Facility, which is nestled on 18 secluded acres only five minutes from downtown Qualicum Beach in the heart of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. Heat to Heal™ Sanctuary has two Infrared Heated Studios: one small, intimate space appropriate for 10-12 participants and one-on-one practices; and, another 1025 square foot studio space appropriate for up to 30 mats and that is open and light overlooking open farm fields, lush forests, and majestic mountain views. Heat to Heal™ Sanctuary has dormitory and private room lodging for 20 participants on-site, with vegetarian meals available, and numerous beautiful resorts located nearby. Other amenities include walking trails, two kitchens, two infrared saunas, hot tub, four complete baths/showers, lovely sitting areas both inside and out, and an 1856 Upright Grand piano for those who want to share music and song outside the studios. Heat to Heal™ Sanctuary delights the eyes with gorgeous views of the Georgia Straight, Mt. Moriarty, lush forests, and roving farm fields. Heat to Heal™ Sanctuary is home to Bald Eagles, Ravens, deer, and other wonderful country wild life. Situated in the middle of the Oceanside area between Qualicum Beach and Parksville, BC, Canada, Heat to Heal™ Sanctuary offers an easily accessible haven minutes from sandy beaches, provincial parks, wonderful shopping, and world-class spas, resorts and golf courses. Yet, within this close proximity of wonderful tourism and activity, Heat to Heal™ Sanctuary sits securely secluded and peaceful. Participants in all trainings, retreats, events, and sessions will find healing and peace surrounded by old growth forest, meandering streams, towering Cedar trees, majestic views, and quiet.
Heat to Heal™ Director and Qualified Yoga Teacher CYA-RYT500+
Heat to Heal Training Goals:
- Develop and understanding of the Yoga philosophies including the Eight Limbs of Yoga, describe the philosophies to others, and demonstrate their use in daily life;
- Observe teaching and lecture in asana, meditation, and pranayama practices and adequately demonstrate these skills to others;
- Demonstrate understanding of the yoga asana poses as related to standing, seated, twists, inversions, backbends, hand balances, supine and restorative poses based on the Ashtanga Primary Series system geared to each level of participant;
- Describe and demonstrate the application of structural alignment as taught in the Anusara Yoga Tradition;
- Understand the variances of yoga styles including, but not limited to, Restorative, Yin, Hatha, Bikram or Hot Yoga, Vinyasa, Power Yoga and practical applications of each style to their future teaching environment;
- Participate daily in meditation, led, Mysore, and restorative yoga asana practices, as well as in chanting, kriyas, and mantras appropriate to the level of training;
- Learn and demonstrate appropriate teaching styles and professional ethics; and,
- Gain an understanding and practical practice in taking charge of their own personal wellness.
Heat to Heal™ Offers:
- 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Trainings
- 500 Hour Yoga Teacher Trainings
- Continuing Education Courses for Yoga Teachers
- Usui Reiki Trainings: Level 1, Level 2, Level 3, Master Level
There’s a lot to see and experience with Heat to Heal! We are so thankful you came to join us on our path today. Today would be a GREAT day for you to register and begin Heating Up with 200 and 500 Hour Yoga Teacher Trainings at Heat to Heal!!
Heat & Healing,
Dr. Kathie M. Black, PhD
CYT, RYT 500+, RM/RT
Hello Heat to Heal Post Followers!
Today we’ve officially announced on our Heat to Heal Facebook Page our 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training series that begins in April. While these trainings run throughout the year, the Facebook Event page only allowed for a four month run, so for all the dates of these offerings, please see the 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training page on our site. We’ll update the 500 Hour Training and the calendar tomorrow. For today – this is pretty much all we’ll get done!
We are thrilled to also announce that we have developed a six month weekend intensive 200 hour yoga teacher training that will run in April, May, June, September, October and conclude in December. This series will run in conjunction with the Your Journey to Wellness Series and offer students additional insight into their 200 hour yoga teacher training and wellness.
Heat to Heal 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training
Heat to Heal 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training offers students a classical yoga teacher training in a unique serene and peaceful destination on Vancouver Island, British Columbia Canada. Based on the Classical Ashtanga Hatha Yoga series and informed through the Anusara Principles of Alignment, this training taught by a combination of Heat to Heal Faculty, the training gives the student a solid grounding in yoga philosophy, thought, practice, anatomy, physiology, teaching, special conditions, working in the field of yoga, and more.
SPECIAL MARCH OFFERING
REGISTER BEFORE 31 MARCH FOR ANY OF OUR TRAININGS AND RECEIVE AND ADDITIONAL $250.00 OFF
*Note – this offer only applies to Heat to Heal Yoga Teacher Trainings it does not apply to Karen Heaven Claffey Anusara events
Thank you for visiting today. It is now time to go practice what we teach – sweet yoga in an infrared heated space!
Heat & Healing,
Heat to Heal Presents the History of Saunas
Excerpt from Need for Heat: A Complete Guide to Far-Infrared Saunas
By Dr. Kathie M. Black, PhD
Blackstone Saunas & Heat to Heal™
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If you’re looking for an infrared sauna or wonder why Heat to Heal uses infrared heat in all our studios, here’s some background information on the history of sweat. Heat to Heal Presents the History of Saunas in this excerpt from the Need for Heat: A Complete Guide to Far Infrared Saunas.
Recorded ‘sweat’ for bathing begins all the way back in Old Testament times. Recorded entries throughout Biblical time refer to bathing, cleansing, washing. We find more cohesive recorded history beginning with Mediterranean Baths in Roman and Greek times moving into Turkey and further into Islamic countries. Finnish use of the sauna became so ingrained in their culture that sauna (pronounced ‘sow-nah’) is what most of us understand and experience today. European and Eastern cultures were not the only cultures deeply involving ‘sweating’ for bathing into their cultures. In North and South America, Sweat Lodges or sweathouses, are also intricate and valued places of health and spiritual practices. Today, saunas are used world wide in health clubs, spas, recreational or sports centres, by massage therapists, chiropractors, natural healers, yoga instructors, and individuals to improve and enhance health practices.
Hot air bath history goes back at least as far as the Greeks and Romans. The Greeks used hot-air baths heated by hot rocks or coal burning devices. Greek baths excavated during the 20th century showed these baths near or adjacent to gymnasium sites and near libraries or places where quiet contemplation and intellectual thought took place. Greek bathing rites were included in the rites of birth, marriage, and death.
As with the Greeks, Romans included hot bathing with their entire complex of sports halls, libraries, restaurants, and neighborhoods. Technological advances allowed the Roman Diocletian bath to have a capacity of 6,000 bathers at one time. The amazing technological design of the aqueduct, first developed by the Greeks, pumped more water into the baths while architectural designs of high ceilings supported by concrete roofs towered over bathers in enormous rooms heated through hypocaust systems. Developed by Roman engineers, a hypocaust system is one that heats bath air to temperatures well over 210 degrees F (100 degrees C). The hypocaust system consisted of heating a raised marble floor from underneath with a log fire. Resultant hot air was then channeled through ceramic pipes set into the walls of the room. To heat a room the size of the large Roman Diocletian bath would take several days, so the fires were kept burning and the bath continually hot.
Exercise, sports, swimming, theatre, libraries, music, and parties were all a daily part of the typical Roman citizen life – added to that was the important hot bath. Bathhouses of the time advertised special features incident to that particular house. The advertising of special attractions is similar to clubs we see today – recreational facilities, golf courses, etc. bath houses or “thermae” might have other attractions besides the bath such as libraries or unique sports halls, but the main draw was always the hot bath. Participants would move through a series of rooms in their bathing ritual beginning with a tepid or warm room and progressing gradually to the “tepidarium” or the largest and most luxurious of the rooms in the bath. The next step was to wash off with either hot or cold water in the private individual side rooms called the “caladarium”. Finally, the bather moved to the last and hottest room known as the “laconicum”. As this room was the hottest of all the rooms, the stay was short and the bather’s body ready for the intense massage. All of this was followed by a scraping off of dead skin by a “strigil” and a finishing dip in a cold pool known as the “frigidarium”. Clean, fresh, and rejuvenated the bather now moved on to more intellectual pursuits in the libraries.
The fall of the Roman Empire obliterated these elaborate baths. It wasn’t until the early 1900s that hot-air baths or “sweat” baths came back into popularity and only then in health centres or spas designed to be therapeutic.
Interested in knowing more of the history of saunas?
Check out Need for Heat: A Complete Guide to Far-Infrared Saunas
Available as PDF or ePub for most electronic readers: www.ravenrockpublishing.com