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Hot Yoga: What to Know About This Sweaty Practice

Yoga offers many health benefits, including increased flexibility, improved mindfulness, and decreased stress. Is hot yoga good for you too? Read more to learn everything you need to know about hot yoga, from benefits to safety concerns, plus tips for starting a hot yoga practice.

Hot yoga

Yoga is an ancient spiritual practice that is thousands of years old. Recently, yoga has become an incredibly popular fitness activity that can provide many health benefits. There are many different styles of yoga, including yin yoga, hatha yoga, vinyasa yoga, restorative yoga, yin yoga, power yoga, and more. 

Typically, a yoga class involves stretching your body through different postures combined with breathing exercises, relaxation, and meditation elements. Hot yoga simply refers to a yoga class that takes place in a heated and humidified room that’s similar to the climate in India, where yoga was born — a fact you may hear touted by hot yoga enthusiasts. 

So how hot is hot yoga? The average hot yoga temperature ranges from 35 degrees Celsius to 40 degrees Celsius. Bikram hot yoga classes are 90 minutes long and are taught in rooms heated to 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) with approximately 40% humidity.

Bikram hot yoga is named after a yoga teacher from India named Bikram Choudhury. Mr. Choudhury first introduced hot yoga at a yoga studio in Japan in the 1970s, and a short time later, he brought his teachings to California. Bikram hot yoga emerged as its own style of yoga, with dedicated yoga studios that teach the same sequence of poses at every Bikram hot yoga class.

Today, hot yoga classes take place in studios around the world and include a variety of yoga styles. Some yoga studios also offer reduced-heat classes, which are warmer than a regular class but not as hot as a hot yoga class. 

A woman practices hot yoga

Yoga has many health benefits, including improved physical fitness, improved cardiovascular health, and decreased stress. If your preferred method of exercise is hot yoga, good for you — you’re improving your overall health every time you exercise! 

Hot yoga can simulate the effects of hyperthermic conditioning, which involves being in a heated space for extended periods to increase endurance and build muscle.

Studies have also shown that hot yoga can decrease blood pressure with regular sessions over three months.

Some research has linked hot yoga to alleviating symptoms of depression. Studies have shown that just one session of high-heat exposure (where the core body temperature is elevated to 38.5 degrees Celsius) had a significant antidepressant effect. 

Studies have also shown that hot yoga can decrease blood pressure with regular sessions over three months. This is a similar effect to cardio exercise, which can also lower blood pressure. 

While hot yoga has some benefits, there are also some risks associated with the practice. Follow these safety tips to get the most out of your hot yoga workout. 

Dress appropriately

In a hot yoga class, be prepared to sweat! Wear lightweight, breathable clothes to help keep your body cool as you move through the poses. Avoid wearing too many layers as this could make you feel even hotter.

Use the right yoga mat

Choose a yoga mat that’s recommended for hot yoga. Look for a mat that provides extra grip so that you’ll stay steady as you move from pose to pose. 

You can also use a yoga towel across your mat to help absorb sweat and reduce slipping.

Stay hydrated

During a hot yoga class, you’re likely to sweat much more than you would in a regular temperature class. Excessive sweating can lead to dehydration, so be sure to drink enough of water before, during, and after your class. If the class is longer than an hour, mineral water or water with lemon can replenish lost electrolytes.

Excessive sweating during hot yoga class can lead to dehydration, so be sure to drink enough water.

If you’re experiencing signs of dehydration, such as weakness, dizziness or dry mouth, you should stop your hot yoga workout and leave the heated room. 

Practice moderately

You might feel much more limber in a hot yoga class than in a regular yoga class, but that doesn’t mean you should stretch yourself beyond your limits. Exposure to high temperatures combined with deep stretching exercises can increase the risk of overstretching, muscle damage, and torn cartilage due to fatigue. 

Avoiding overexertion during a hot yoga class can reduce the risk of injury. 

When to avoid hot yoga

Hot yoga is not recommended for women who are pregnant for the same reasons that pregnant women should not use a jacuzzi or hot tub. While in the womb, babies can’t regulate their body temperature, and excessive heat exposure can lead to neural tube defects or other complications.

If you have heart disease, please consult a trusted health care professional about whether hot yoga is an option for you. If you have heat intolerance or have ever had a heat stroke, you should think twice before starting hot yoga.

Hot yoga is not recommended for women who are pregnant: excessive heat exposure can lead to neural tube defects or other complications.

Hot yoga is also not recommended for people with lymph conditions because hot yoga increases the flow of lymph fluid through the body.

There’s a lot of misinformation around whether it’s safe to do yoga during your period — it’s safe. You may have to be more mindful of fatigue or dehydration symptoms and the type of poses that you do.

Yoga offers so much more than physical exercise, but it has many physical benefits too. When practiced regularly, yoga can influence hormones that regulate your metabolism, such as ghrelin and leptin. Yoga also regulates stress hormones ,like cortisol, that can cause weight gain if they’re elevated for long periods of time.

Combine those benefits with the added cardiovascular element of hot yoga, where you can burn nearly 500 calories in one Bikram hot yoga class, and it’s very possible that a regular hot yoga practice can help you lose weight.

Are you ready to start hot yoga? Follow these simple tips to make your first class a success:

  • When you arrive at the studio, tell your teacher that it’s your first time doing hot yoga. They’ll be able to offer suggestions to make the class suit your needs.
  • Bring a water bottle so that you can sip water whenever you need it during class. 
  • Rest whenever you need, especially if you’re feeling exhausted or dehydrated. 
  • Listen to your body and don’t do any poses that cause sharp pain or intense discomfort.
  • Look for a hot yoga class that is beginner-friendly or warm (not hot) to start. That way, you’ll get comfortable with yoga in a heated room before being exposed to Bikram yoga temperatures. 

Above all else, remember to enjoy yourself! Try different classes with different teachers to find one that works best for you. 

Hot yoga offers many benefits for body, mind, and spirit. Follow these helpful tips to get started on the right foot with hot yoga. As with any physical exercise, speak with your doctor if you have a health condition that might prevent you from doing hot yoga. 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3994790/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27172277?fbclid=IwAR1Co5JdTMSFtpNhfPSh7Htx8Ga3bG16gYj8qrr2NU1JcReiCir58wYpcbU

https://yogainternational.com/article/view/hot-and-bothered-the-hype-history-and-science-of-hot-yoga

https://www.yogaalliance.org/Get_Involved/Media_Inquiries/2016_Yoga_in_America_Study_Conducted_by_Yoga_Journal_and_Yoga_Alliance_Reveals_Growth_and_Benefits_of_the_Practice

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/exercise/art-20048167

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/expert-answers/hot-yoga/faq-20058057

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