October 14, 2019 | Abby Caviness
Regular yoga can be enough exercise and stretching for some people, but others have taken it up a notch—in temperature. Hot yoga has made its way to the U.S., and people are jumping on board. Are you unsure what we are referring to? USHEALTH Group® is answering the top 10 questions relating to the exercise and its benefits. Just keep reading!
What is Hot Yoga?
Hot yoga is a form of vigorous yoga performed in a warm and humid studio. Typically, the studio is heated to between 80° F and 100° F and has a humidity of 40 percent. Most sessions last 90 minutes and consist of various standing and stretching positions, which require lengthy, forceful, and sustained contractions of all major muscle groups.1
How is Hot Yoga Different from Regular Yoga?
Aside from the temperature, this exercise boasts some potential health benefits that proponents say regular yoga does not. For example, advocates claim the hot environment allows individuals to stretch easier and further because muscles warm up quicker.
Additional Potential Benefits
- Burn more calories
- Provide a cardiovascular boost
- Reduce blood glucose levels
- Nourish the skin
Unfortunately, none of these benefits are backed by science, and critics claim regular yoga has the same potential benefits. So, it may be that the only difference is the heat.
What is the Point of Hot Yoga?
You may wonder why people are so obsessed with this exercise when regular yoga has many of the same benefits. However, many individuals claim hot yoga provides a greater sense of peace and accomplishment after completing a session. During a session, the combination of the effects of yoga and a sauna may cause individuals to experience a higher level of relaxation. This is due to the potential release of “feel-good” hormones, including dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins. However, none of these effects are scientifically proven.
Is Hot Yoga Really Good for You?
Proponents of the exercise boast the “amazing effects” of profusely sweating while doing yoga. However, 25-year Yoga Director Jody Kurilla says individuals should practice classic yoga sans the heat and sweat. In addition, the American Council on Exercise published a study in 2015 about health concerns of the exercise. They questioned the safety of individuals’ inner body temperatures rising to dangerous levels. Also, they cautioned unfit individuals from participating without preparing properly.4
Not Proven By Science
Furthermore, science does not prove any of the boasted benefits many proponents advertise. So, we advise you to consult your doctor about the best plan for you.
Can You Lose Weight by Hot Yoga?
One of hot yoga’s main selling point is its calorie-burning capabilities. However, several studies show this form of exercise only burns 500 calories in a 90-minute session. What’s more, advertisers claim a calorie count twice this number. Studies also show the actual benefit is in the stretching and posing rather than the heat.4 So, unless you just enjoy sweating it out in the heated studio, regular yoga is the way to go.
Does Hot Yoga Help Lose Belly Fat?
While this exercise has the potential to help lose belly fat, the same thing can be said about regular yoga. In fact, minus sweating profusely, both types of yoga have many of the same key benefits. 4 Therefore, as much as people advocate for it, there really isn’t anything special about the heated counterpart.
Is Hot Yoga Difficult?
Yoga is supposed to be relaxing and meditative. However, individuals who lack strength in their arm, leg, and core muscles may have a harder time executing certain poses. Also, with the addition of heat, some may find the heated exercise too unbearable and experience dizziness and nausea. Nevertheless, all individuals need is a valiant attempt to succeed in a yoga session. So, if the exercise is too much, there is no shame in stopping and taking a break.1
Can Beginners Do Hot Yoga?
For beginners, it is recommended you try a regular yoga class first to see if this kind of exercise works for you. While there, ask the instructor about their hot yoga classes and if there are specific classes for beginners. In fact, don’t be afraid to try a few different studios to find the right one. Then, when you think you are ready to up the ante, talk to your doctor about trying a hot yoga class and make sure you are cleared to try it.2
How Do I Survive Hot Yoga?
When you decide to go to a hot yoga class, there are a few things you can do to prepare your body beforehand.2
- Wear lightweight, breathable fabrics to wick away sweat
- Bring a towel to place on your yoga mat when you start sweating
- Consider special gloves and socks for better grip
- Bring a large, insulated water bottle to keep you hydrated
If you do all these things, you should be able to make it through a session. However, everyone is different and it’s important to know when your body is telling you to stop. In fact, if you start feeling dizzy, lightheaded, or sick in any way, do not push yourself. When this happens, it is important to stop immediately, take a break, drink some water, and maybe even leave the heated studio for some fresh air.2
How do I Survive my First Hot Yoga Class?
For your first class, you should take the same preparation steps as individuals who have been participating longer than you. Just drink some water before, during, and after your class, wear lightweight fabrics, and bring your towel. Additionally, if you take regular yoga classes beforehand, you will be even more prepared and know what to expect.2
Hot yoga can be useful for reducing stress, sweating out all the problems of the day, and improving the body’s flexibility. However, studies show the effects of the heated exercise are really no better than those of regular yoga. So, unless you enjoy breaking a sweat in a heated environment, there may be no point for the addition of heat and humidity to traditional yoga. Instead, do things you know your body can handle and that do not come with a list of potential issues. This way, you can continue Living Good Health!
*This material is provided by USHEALTH Group® for informational/educational purposes only and should not replace medical/clinical advice or direction from your health care provider.
- Laskowski, Edward R., “What is hot yoga?” MayoClinic.com, published Oct 26, 2018, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/expert-answers/hot-yoga/faq-20058057
- Roland, James, “8 Benefits of Sweating It Out with Hot Yoga,” Healthline.com, modified September 11, 2019, https://www.healthline.com/health/hot-yoga-benefits
- Stieg, Cory, “If Hot Yoga Isn’t ‘Better For You’ Then Why Does It Feel So Good?” Refinery29.com, published June 20, 2018, https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/hot-yoga-benefits-risks
- Scott, Cameron, “Hot Yoga: Is It Super-Heated Exercise or a Health Danger?” Healthline.com, published June 4, 2019, https://www.healthline.com/health-news/hot-yoga-booming-but-it-may-be-bad-for-you-051515#1
- St. Lifer, Holly, “Try Hot Yoga,” WebMD.com, accessed October 11, 2019, https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/try-hot-yoga#1