Hot yoga has certainly seen a recent spike in popularity as a trendy way to keep your body in tip-top shape, but are there really more benefits when you practice yoga in heated room? Here’s a look at the popular claims in conjunction with the scientific facts. Hot yoga isn’t for everyone, but some people thrive from having been in such an environment.
What is Hot Yoga?
There are all sorts of variations when it comes to what a hot yoga class can be like at any given studio, but the common foundation for such a class is that the room is hot and humid. Participants still hold traditional poses and still focus on breathing exercises, but the intensity of such a class can be dramatically heightened because of the room itself. Bikram yoga, for example, is generally practiced at a temperature of one-hundred-five degrees fahrenheit with forty percent humidity. Other hot yoga classes can feature more conservative temperatures, sometimes in the nineties range.
What are the Advantages of Hot Yoga?
We know that yoga in general can provide physical and psychological benefits, but hot yoga enthusiasts claim that the difference in practice environment completely transforms the experience and increases your body’s ability to reach its optimum state of existence. Although there’s a lack of scientific evidence backing up the majority of claims, some of the purported benefits are real.
Increased Muscle Relaxation and Flexibility
Hot yoga can be an effective way to strengthen muscles and increase flexibility. Proponents of hot yoga cite the heat as allowing for deeper and more effective stretching because high temperatures can help your muscles relax. The heat can additionally increase your joint lubrication and help you safely reach new heights when it comes to your personal level of flexibility. Because of its low impact nature, yoga can be a great opportunity for many to work through muscle tightness and joint pains. If you like a heated stretch, finding a local hot yoga class may be on your to-do list.
Fans of hot yoga are quick to list detoxification as a benefit from their beloved routine. Sweating heavily may be able to better help flush toxins from the skin. Some individuals’ claims go a step further, citing that yoga poses themselves can be detoxifying for your muscles and internal organs while the heated environment raises your core temperature and helps additionally improve your immune system.
Yoga can help you increase your heart rate and may help lower your blood pressure. Having an elevated heart rate makes your body work harder, but as seen through studies, hot yoga participants don’t necessarily have higher heart rates or core temperatures than those following along in a traditional yoga class. Either form can provide cardiovascular benefits and help you increase your endurance.
Practicing yoga in a heated room may be able to help improve breathing, reduce depression and help you cope with stress. Although all types of yoga can provide mental and psychological benefits, the demanding nature of hot yoga can uniquely challenge the body in a way that some participants respond to in an extremely positive way. During a hot yoga class, some are better able to push aside their day-to-day cares and focus singularly on the tasks at hand. If you excel in a heated environment, hot yoga can be a healing therapy for body and mind.
What Are the Dangers of Hot Yoga?
Because of the elevated temperatures, participants can find themselves experiencing undesirable side effects including dehydration, muscle cramping, dizziness, nausea and overall weakness. Those who have high blood pressure, have respiratory problems or are pregnant may be especially at risk.
In a heated environment, individuals may have a harder time detecting their own limits. Because you can easily overstretch in hot yoga, some individuals consider non-heated environments as safer for your body.
Extreme Loss of Fluids and Minerals
In hot yoga, sweating is a given, but the room’s condition isn’t conducive to your sweat properly evaporating. Since the evaporation is what actually cools you off, your heart may continue to pump more and more blood to the vessels in your skin without any relief. During this process, you’ll continue to lose water and valuable minerals like potassium and sodium, which will need to be replaced in order to maintain your body’s balance. If your core temperature is notably high, you might also be at risk for heat injury.
Dangerously-Elevated Heart Rates
If your heart rate is too high during the class, that could be a point of concern and you might not even realize the dangerous situation at hand. The heat and intensity can alter your perception.
Weight Loss Disappointment
Despite the claims, hot yoga does not provide any unique advantages when it comes to weight loss. Because sweating is typically a dramatic component of hot yoga, some erroneously identify the immediate water loss as weight loss, but when you rehydrate, the fluids will be replaced. When it comes to working out, an increased amount of sweat doesn’t directly translate into burning more calories.
If You’re Interested in Trying Out Hot Yoga, What Should You Remember?
If you want to try out hot yoga for yourself, make sure you’re mentally and physically prepared for such an event. You want your experience to be positive and beneficial so play it safe.
If you have a hot yoga class later on, continue throughout the day to drink cup after cup of water to give yourself a hydrated start. During or after your class, make sure to replenish your body with a drink that provides potassium, sodium and other needed electrolytes. Whether you prefer something like Gatorade or coconut water, make sure you have liquids on hand for immediate consumption.
Watch the Warning Signs
If you start to feel light-headed, confused, out of breath or any other undesirable symptoms, make sure to take a break. Especially when you’re trying something out for the first time, you need to listen to your body and rest when you’re unsure of how you’re doing internally. Sit out for a few poses and try to regain your strength. As needed, leave the heated room to help your body reset.