"Hot" yoga becoming more popular

Could you envision working out in a room as hot as an Alabama summer? Think you could take the heat?

If so, test yourself. Try "hot yoga". A fitness workout that is growing.

Lauren Fields has taught 'hot' Vinyasa yoga for three years.

"People are raving about it, because they feel so good," says Fields. "Here in the southeast, in Birmingham, it has grown exponentially in the last few years."As many as 80 students, women and men of all ages and expertisepack the class at Lifetime Fitness.It's taught in a room that reaches temperatures of 95 degrees or higher.

Fields says, the idea is to increase flexibility. "When you're in a hot room I think of this pizza dough analogy," says Fields. "If you have a bowl of pizza dough in the fridge, you take it out and it's not really pliable. But if you heat it up, it's really pliable, you can move it all sorts of directions. The same goes for our muscles and joints, tendons, ligaments."The heat and constant sweating creates a mental challenge for participants, but it provides a great cardio workout. {} {}"You can go out and run a mile and not get the same pounding in your chest that you would doing a hot yoga class. That is because of the heat," Fields explains.When the sweat hits the mat, Fields will say that's the sign that the body is cleansing out toxins. "It detoxes your organs, your glands, your muscles, your joints. The health benefits are so big," she says. "In yoga we're getting all these big openings in our shoulders and our hips, and our muscles. That blood flow acts like a flood. So it gets in those spaces that don't normally get blood flow. So it just washes all those impurities out."Sarah Ellen Allbritton started practicing hot yoga in April."I love it! I have lower back issues, and this is the only thing that helps," says Allbritton. "I can tell the more I come, the more my muscles learn to stay in that position."Ultimately, Fields encourages others to give this fitness trend a try."You walk out feeling like a million bucks. You never know what you're missing until you try it," she says.

As with any cardio-workout, you should check with your doctor to be sure that your heart is healthy enough for hot yoga.