By Jackie Rainford Corcoran EBS Health Columnist

Last June, with very little yoga experience, I attended a hot yoga class and have been hooked ever since.

The welcoming and peaceful Sumits studio is located in Bozeman on Huffine Lane and a yogini strategically places your mat in the heated room, with temperatures ranging from 99-103 F and 55-65 percent humidity.

Classes are 60 or 80 minutes long and include both motivating and stimulating music. A warm up prepares your body and mind for a series of balancing poses followed by a sequence of four athletic yoga “flows.”

This is followed by intentional core work and stretching before a final resting shavasana, where you’re invited to rest on your back with eyes closed. The instructor comes around the darkened room and gently places an herbal scented, cool damp towel in your hand—this can be used to help lower your core temperature before you continue with your day.

Sumit Banerjee, a nephew of Bikram Choudhury, created the Sumit’s Yoga franchise based on his own experience practicing and teaching various yoga styles including Bikram and Vinyasa.

In a recent interview with Bozeman and Billings Sumits owner Melissa Vuletich, I asked her what benefits heat brings to the practice.

“Heat thins the blood which increases the heart rate, making hot yoga an excellent low-impact cardiovascular workout,” Vuletich said. “The increase in blood flow allows more blood and oxygen to be delivered to the muscles, joints, lymphatic and endocrine systems.”

It also helps you sweat, allowing the body to detoxify and flush out toxins, she explained. “This in turn brings natural healing and balance back into your body.”

But staying true to the original intent of yoga, Vuletich says that Sumits believes the healing of the mind is the greatest benefit of yoga—the positive impact on one’s body and health is a bonus.

The grounded peace I feel after class is why I keep going back. A yoga studio that is a quiet zone helps achieve this result, allowing you to get into a meditative state and focus on your breathe before going into active poses.

“The importance of keeping the studio free of talking before, during and after class is that yoga is a personal practice. We create a space where you can truly disconnect,” Vuletich says. “How often do you get 60-80 minutes out of your day where you don’t have to answer to anyone?”

Since I’m new to yoga, and needed some additional help with my alignment, I worked with Nancy Ruby of Bozeman’s Yoga Motion for a 90-minute private session, in addition to getting advice from the Sumits instructors before and after class. YouTube also has great tutorials if you’re new to yoga as well.

If you do have an aversion to heat, hot yoga might not be for you; however, the Sumits instructors encourage you to listen to your body, drink water and rest as needed.

For more information, find Bozeman Sumits on Facebook or view their schedule at clients.mindbodyonline.com/classic/home?studioid=194198.

Jackie Rainford Corcoran is an IIN Certified Holistic Health Coach and Consultant, a public speaker and health activist. Contact her at jackie@corehealthmt.com.