The Truth about Hot Yoga (Explained By Science)

Practicing yoga in a hot room can be very comfortable, especially if you live in a colder climate. If you have tried it, you know the excess sweat and the feeling that your body is going through something extra compared to yoga at room temperature. But is hot yoga really as beneficial as it is said to be? Let’s find out.

Hot Yoga for Cardiovascular Health

Hot yoga has been marketed as having a higher calorie burn than yoga done at room temperature. Does this claim have any basis?

Researchers compared sedentary but healthy adults aged between 40-60 divided into three groups. Two groups each practiced 90 minutes, three times per week for 12 weeks. The first group did so in a room heated to 40.5degC and the second at 23degC. The third group didn’t practice any yoga.

The study focused on vascular health and concluded that both yoga groups gained similar benefits regardless of temperature.

A second study funded by the American Council of Exercise recruited 20 healthy individuals between the ages of 18 and 44. The volunteers took part in two yoga classes: one at room temperature and another at hot temperatures. The participants’ core body temperature and heart rate were monitored during both yoga classes.

The study showed that there was no significant difference between the regular and hot yoga classes in terms of heart rate or body temperature (although the participants sweated more in the hot class, for obvious reasons).

Hot yoga may make us sweat, but it does not seem to have any additional benefits for our cardiovascular health.

Is Hot Yoga Good for Flexibility?

Hot yoga, whether it’s Bikram or another style, can be a relaxing experience. It is good for us when done properly (staying well hydrated and not pushing yourself to the limit).

In a piece that appeared in the New York Times on hot yoga, several medical experts were interviewed about flexibility and hot yoga. Flexibility is divided into two categories: flexibility of the muscles and flexibility in joints and ligaments. When we are warm, we can stretch our strengths more. If we try the forces by more than 20-25% of their resting length, we may damage them.

Less is more when it comes to ligaments and joints. Ligaments are flexible, but they do not receive much blood flow. Ligaments stabilize joints. If they stretch, they are unable to bounce back as muscles can, resulting in joint instability. Hot yoga practitioners are at risk of injury if they accidentally go beyond their body’s limits.

What about sweating out those toxins?

You can feel the sweat dripping, and at the end of class, you’re swimming in a pool. It must be good for you, right?

The majority of sweat is water with traces of minerals, urea, and lactic acid. The body does sweat metabolic byproducts, but not in sufficient quantities to benefit the metabolic functions of the body. The kidneys, the liver, and the colon are responsible for true toxin removal. Hot yoga does not release toxins but rather dehydrates us and causes us to lose water weight. Drink up, hot yoga enthusiasts!

But Hot Yoga Feels So Good!

It’s obvious! Being a person who grew up close to the Arctic Circle, I can understand the appeal of a warm space during the cold winter months. Keep doing hot yoga if you enjoy it. You will feel relaxed and gain great health benefits.

Remember to stay hydrated and listen to your body. Don’t push it; take breaks (or leave) if you are feeling lightheaded or ill. Other forms of yoga can be done in a heated space, such as Bikram. Hot Yin Yoga is the ultimate in relaxation.

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