The muscles in your hands might not be huge, but they can still cramp up during Bikram yoga, also called hot yoga. In most cases, you have nothing to worry about and you probably won't have to give up your favorite workout. Treatment on your own is typically appropriate, and simple tweaks to your yoga routine can help prevent the cramping from returning during future sessions on the mat.
A cramp is an involuntary contraction in your muscle. You'll probably feel your hand tighten up and it may feel hard to the touch. If you hold a Bikram yoga pose for an extended amount of time, you may experience a cramp in your hand. The heat in the room might also produce a hand cramp. Overuse of the muscles in your hands can also cause them to cramp, say if you always do the same poses at each hot yoga session. Since the temperature in a Bikram yoga room is elevated, you lose body fluid more quickly through sweat, and a cramp in your hand might be your body's way of telling you that you are dehydrated.
Most of the time, you can take care of a hand cramp on your own. Come out of the pose you are in and stretch your hands by flexing your fingers a couple of times. Lightly massaging the muscle can also help stop a cramp. Take a quick break for a drink of water. If you're dehydrated, getting some fluids into your body might be enough to stop a hand cramp. If the cramp persists after your session, try applying heat or ice to the area. An over-the-counter pain medication can also help alleviate any discomfort.
One of the best ways to prevent a hand cramp while you're on the mat is to stretch before your Bikram session begins. Stretch each of your fingers and hands before you start your poses. Make sure to drink plenty of water before, during and after your hot yoga session. This ensures that you stay well hydrated and goes a long way toward keeping hand cramps from happening during yoga. Avoid holding any Bikram pose for too long, and vary your routine regularly to keep the muscles in your hands challenged in different ways.
When to Call a Doctor
Most of the time, hand cramps are nothing to worry about. However, in some cases, a call to your doctor might be appropriate. Yes, you're busy and you probably don't have time for one more thing on your to-do list, but in a small number of cases, hand cramps during yoga could indicate a bigger problem. If the cramps don't respond to treatment or get worse after you leave the studio, mention it to your doctor, who can determine whether your condition needs further attention.
Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.