Working out in a heated room, creating pools of sweat while being surrounded by people who are equally just as sweaty might not be the ideal picture, many people imagine when doing yoga.
That’s because the common perception about yoga is that it is more about meditation than it is about breaking a sweat.
Although yoga is still that, there is also another side to it that says otherwise – Hot Yoga.
Yoga has been practiced for thousands of years. To be exact, yoga has around 5000 years of history.
Its various styles combine different poses, breathing techniques, and other meditative actions.
Now, according to a study published in 2016, American yoga practitioners had grown to 36 million in 2016.
According to the International Yoga Federation, there are 300 million practitioners worldwide. And researchers predict that these numbers will only continue to grow as the years go by.
In the past, fitness wasn’t the primary goal of yoga. Instead, it was more about the spiritual aspects of the person.
Here, yoga uses a tree and its different parts to represent the six different branches of yoga. Each branch has a different focus and a different set of characteristics meant for various purposes.
Another essential point of the practice is chakra. In yoga, it is the center points of the physical body, energy, feelings, and thoughts.
And when it is blocked, it is said to trigger a series of physical, mental, and emotional issues. Much like the branches of yoga, there are also different chakras with different focuses.
Now, modern yoga has become more popular as a form of less strenuous physical exercise. It is often practiced to strengthen both body and mind.
This involves putting a particular focus on strength, flexibility, exercise, and breathing. There are also many styles of yoga for different fitness levels.
Some of these include power yoga, prenatal yoga, restorative yoga, and Ashtanga yoga.
One of the most popular styles of yoga today is hot yoga. Contrary to traditional yoga, this style isn’t for relaxing. It is for pushing your limits.
As its name implies, hot yoga is when you do yoga in a hot and humid room. And by hot, it means tropical island summer hot. So, it guarantees a lot of sweating and a bit more exertion.
Practicing yoga this way is said to have a lot of benefits. This includes improving flexibility, burning more calories, and reducing blood glucose levels.
Some say it is torture while some say that it is life-changing. But, who knows? You’ll never know until you try it yourself.
Compared to yoga’s age, the hot yoga style is relatively young. The first of its kind can be traced back to Japan in the 1970s.
There, a yoga teacher named Bikram Choudhury became intrigued by his student’s love for the sauna. This soon led him to experiment on incorporating heaters in his yoga room.
In the beginning, Choudhury heated the room to 28 degrees Celcius (82.4 Farenheit). It is said he was trying to mimic the temperature of his hometown in India.
But, from that modest 28 degrees, Choudhury continued increasing the temperatures.
According to Yoga International, Choudhury noticed that the hotter it is, the more people sweat and exerted themselves.
And the more they sweat, the more they thought of his classes as a more productive workout.
So today, Bikram yoga classes are conducted at a standard 40 degrees Celcius (104 degrees Fahrenheit). It involves 26 postures and two breathing exercises within 90 minutes.
And there are no breaks. If you think that is intolerable, you’re not alone. Choudhury himself called his yoga rooms “torture chambers” because of that sweltering heat.
After his discovery, Choudhury moved to the United States in 1972. And there, he opened his yoga school, the Bikram Yoga College of India.
He started teaching the new yoga style, and he soon attracted a following.
After a few years, America experienced a craze over Bikram yoga. And from one yoga school, Bikram yoga became a global empire in the mid-2000s.
It is said that in this success, Bikram also had a line of A-list clientele. Unfortunately, this global empire soon fell to its knees because of Choudhury himself.
The Dark Side of Bikram Yoga
When Choudhury hit it big, he really hit it big. From one studio, Choudhury managed to open 650 studios at the height of Bikram yoga.
And that is in the U.S. alone. There are hundreds more scattered around Asia, Europe, and Australia. When Bikram saw the opportunity in the U.S. market, he didn’t even hesitate to seize it.
After adding some heating and specific rules to a practice that was thousands of years old, Bikram franchised his style. People loved it. But it didn’t come cheap.
According to a report in 2015, opening a Bikram studio would cost $10 000. A percentage of sales would then go to Choudhury. And he would also be receiving royalty and advertising fund fees.
In addition to that, franchisees are required only to hire teachers certified by Bikram Yoga.
If you wanted to become a Bikram yoga teacher at that time, you’d have to pay Choudhury between $12 500 to $16 600 for training.
Then, you would have to get recertified every three years. And you would have to shell out another $1200 for that.
Aside from the prices, Choudhury also set a strict set of rules for Bikram. For one, certified teachers were required to teach “The Dialogue.”
This is somewhat of a script for Bikram. This contained a word per word replica of Choudhuri teaching a class. Aside from that, Bikram also had rules for the studio itself.
The floor always had to have carpet on it. Full-length mirrors must be installed on the front wall. And the studios are not allowed to host any other yoga style but Bikram.
As for the teachers, they were only allowed to use company approved dialogue in their classes. They also weren’t allowed to touch their students.
All this made Choudhury filthy rich. And unlike most yogis, Choudhury enjoyed the lavish lifestyle. He was known for his fleet of exotic cars.
And he was also known to wearing a diamond-encrusted Rolex in his classes. That all came to an end when Choudhury received his first lawsuit in 2013.
One former student accused him of sexual harassment. Soon after, six other women came forward, accusing Choudhury of sexual harassment and assault.
Choudhuri denied them all. Then in 2016, Choudhuri’s formal legal adviser Minakshi “Miki” Jafa-Bodden won $6.4 million dollars in a sexual harassment lawsuit against him.
Sadly, the consequences of Choudhury’s actions echoed to the studios as well. Owners, instructors, and students all suffered from the stain that Choudhury left on Bikram yoga.
So, studios began distancing themselves from the Bikram name. They rebranded from the guru. And they started calling their classes simply hot yoga or Bikram style.
In many interviews and articles, many practitioners declared that they continue to enjoy the practice. In one report posted on Huffpost, Jessamyn Stanley, a yoga guru, defended the practice.
“He [Choudhury] has very little to do with the power of yoga itself,” she said. “No one owns yoga,” Today, Bikram style is still popular worldwide.
Many practitioners still cling to the practice and its supposed specific benefits. Many people also seem to like the consistency of the method.
Hot Yoga vs. Bikram Yoga
While many people think Bikram style and hot yoga are the same, these two are entirely different. To put it simply, all Bikram style is hot yoga, but not all hot yoga is Bikram style.
Although admittedly, many hot yoga forms originated from Bikram. Some aspects are simply changed.
Hot yoga is any style of yoga done in a heated room. And unlike Bikram, hot yoga doesn’t have one set temperature. The temperatures are also more friendly and manageable.
Usually, hot yoga rooms are only heated from 26 degrees Celcius to 37 degrees Celcius (around 80 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit). Hot yoga also doesn’t have a strict set of rules to follow.
Many hot yoga studios offer different hot yoga classes in different styles. And the sequence for each category also depends on the type of hot yoga to be done there.
Other differences between the two include the set up of the class. Bikram studios had to be carpeted and have bright lights. They also had to have mirrors on the front wall.
Meanwhile, the usual hot yoga rooms can be performed with dim lights and on any safe surface.
In Bikram, there can also be no music or clapping. Instructors were not even permitted to touch any student.
On the contrary, hot yoga often plays music in class. Then, at the end of the course, there is a round of applause. Students and instructors are also allowed to interact with each other.
Types of Hot Yoga
Bikram yoga might have been synonymous with hot yoga at one point in time. But now, there are plenty more hot yoga styles out there.
A lot of them are combinations of different yoga styles. Choosing which one to attend depends on what you need for your body and mind. Here are the different hot yoga styles today.
1. Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga
Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga is a kind of power yoga developed by Baron Baptiste. This style mainly focuses on meditation, asana (poses), and self-inquiry.
And unlike Bikram, Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga has no set sequences. Instead, this style of yoga is based on adaptation.
It is about finding what works for each person and letting go of those that don’t. Each class is different and encourages students to listen to their bodies and follow their own desires.
Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga is taught in studios heated around the mid-90s temperature. And it tends to be a blend of different styles.
These include Bikram, Iyengar, and Ashtanga. It is also the kind of yoga that has poses flowing from one to another instead of being held still for a time.
This is done by controlling your breathing in a specific manner as you move from pose to pose. Although this style of hot yoga is known to be quite vigorous, it is also made to be adaptable for any physical ability level.
The Pillars of Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga
In practice, Power Vinyasa Yoga follows certain aspects summarized by its five pillars. These are breath, heat, flow, gaze, and core stabilization.
Breath: The primary breathing style (pranayama) used in Power Vinyasa Yoga is Ujjayi or ocean breath.
In this breathing technique, you lengthen your breathing cycle by reducing the amount of air passing through your throat.
And each exhalation should be long, controlled, full, and deep. This helps to keep you calm. And it is often used to support postures, especially in the Vinyasa style.
Heat: Much like other hot yoga styles, heat is essential to Power Vinyasa Yoga. This allows students to enjoy a loose and sweaty practice.
Flow:Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga practices the Vinyasa flow. This is when postures flow from one to another instead of being held in place at a time.
The movements are also linked with breathing. And although there is no official set of sequences for the poses, most classes follow a pattern.
Power Vinyasa Yoga classes often include back bending, abdominal work, and hip opening.
Gaze: When doing the practice, you should have a certain point of focus (Drishti). This helps with the alignment of each pose.
And it helps students ignore everything else that is happening in the room and turn their focus inward. This is an important part of Ashtanga yoga.
And though it requires students to hold a fixed gaze, the eyes must remain soft.
Core Stabilization: Core stabilization in Power Vinyasa Yoga means pulling your belly button towards your spine constantly.
This is to provide support by engaging your core to provide strength and balance.
2. Moksha Yoga
Moksha Yoga is a relatively new form of hot yoga. Canadian yoga teachers Ted Grand and Jessica Robertsons founded the style in 2004.
Then in 2013, it has also become known as Moda Yoga in the U.S. and other parts of the world.
This style of hot yoga has three levels of classes. And it has a set series of 45 poses. But, it is not scripted.
So, each category can have a different order of poses depending on the teacher. Classes usually last anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes. Temperature varies per studio.
Moksha yoga begins and ends with the resting pose (savasana). A standing pose follows it, then another resting pose, and then on-the-floor poses.
These focus on improving whole-body strength and flexibility. It also reduces stress by calming the mind.
In addition to exercise, Moksha yoga also promotes social responsibility. Each studio is required to adhere to strict “green” standards.
These include using natural cleansers and sustainable building materials. Each Moksha studio also puts effort into being more eco-conscious.
This is seen in the little things, like providing students with refillable studio water bottles.
Moksha studios also encourage community building. Proceeds from certain classes go to causes and organizations supporting human rights, sustainability, and holistic health.
These all stem from the seven pillars of Moksha yoga’s philosophy. These are: be healthy, be accessible, live green, reach out, community support, live to learn, and be peace.
3. CorePower Yoga
CorePower Yoga is just as vigorous as it sounds. In fact, it is one of the most strenuous yoga styles that have emerged in recent decades.
CorePower Yoga combines elements from Power yoga, Ashtanga yoga, and Vinyasa yoga. It often focuses on the development of core strength. It also focuses on breathing.
And unlike the usual yoga, CorePower Yoga has fast-paced movements. It is said that this style puts more emphasis on the physical aspect of the practice rather than the spiritual element.
The first CorePower Yoga studio opened in 2002. Since then, it expanded all across the U.S. Some of its defining features are its accessibility and appeal to the broader audience.
Its studios offer a variety of class options. Level 1 or the introductory level is taught at room temperature. The more advanced levels 2 and 3 are shown in heated rooms.
These are said to produce an increased heart rate and more calories burned. More than that, CorePower Yoga also offers a hot yoga option like Bikram style.
It is taught in a 105-degree room and follows a set sequence of 26 postures.
There are also classes that incorporate cross-training techniques with yoga. One of these is the yoga sculpt class, which uses weights with yoga.
The other is a CoreRestore class, a slower version of the usual CorePower, which focuses on athlete recovery.
Last but not least, there is the Hot Power Fusion class, which combines various styles together.
Classes usually last between 60 to 75 minutes. And the sequences are at the discretion of the teachers except for the hot yoga option.
4. Heated Vinyasa Yoga
Vinyasa yoga is the style of yoga most known to many people today. It is also known as flow yoga.
As one practitioner moves from one posture to another, it can be thought of as linking or flowing.
Transitions are what connects these postures to one another. And breath is what drives these movements.
As a philosophy, Vinyasa allows you to recognize the temporary nature of the world around you. You enter a pose, stay there for a while, and then move on to another.
With this, Vinyasa helps you recognize how you are moving and what moves you. Together, all these make Vinyasa yoga a moving meditation.
Through the combination of your breath and movements, Vinyasa allows you to focus on harmony, balance, grace, and fluidity.
In addition to its spiritual aspect, Vinyasa yoga also puts importance on its physical dimensions.
Vinyasa classes are often fast-paced. And heated classes usually have temperatures ranging from 85 to 90 degrees. This practice is also generally considered a cardiovascular exercise.
Unlike other yoga styles, Vinyasa goes through almost all groups of yoga poses or asana families. And no two classes are ever alike.
This constant variation promotes a more balanced body. It also helps practitioners avoid repetitive motion injuries.
These come from doing the same thing every day, especially in more extreme conditions like heated classes.
5. TriBalance Hot Yoga
TriBalance Hot Yoga is one of the more younger hot yoga forms of the past decade. Corey Kelly and Shawnda Falvo opened the first TriBalance studio in 2007.
Kelly developed it by combining what he thought were the best aspects of different styles. The styles he based it from are Niyama, Yin, and Bikram.
Among the three, TriBalance is most like Bikram. But, unlike Bikram, which places more focus on its physical aspect, TriBalance emphasizes meditation.
It seeks for its practitioners to focus inward. The varied postures here are also practiced to unify the mind, body, and spirit. But, that’s not to say TriBalance neglects its physical aspect.
In addition to self-reflection, TriBalance also places focus on core and upper body strengthening. This is done through stretches to the back and hips.
Poses are usually held once. But, they’re held longer to work deeper muscles.
If you thought Bikram was already sweltering hot, TriBalance might change your mind. Sometimes, temperatures in classes go beyond that of Bikram’s.
TriBalance goes up to 110 degrees Farenheight. But, the humidity level is lower. Some classes don’t even add humidity.
Like most hot yoga styles, TriBalance also doesn’t have a set series of poses. Classes are also conducted in dim lights to promote inward focus.
6. Hot Yin Yoga
Hot Yin Yoga is a slower-paced practice that is one of the gentlest styles of hot yoga. But, it also presents its own set of challenges.
Like other hot yoga styles, it is practiced in a heated room. It is often set at 95 degrees Fahrenheit, which is considerably more relaxed than other hot yoga classes.
Unlike the more active yoga styles, however, Hot Yin Yoga involves fewer postures. Usually, there are only 10 to 15 poses practiced in one session.
This is because the poses are held for more extended periods of time. Sometimes, poses are held from three to five minutes. And sometimes, it even goes longer than that.
These deep, long-held poses together with the heat work to really open the body. It allows the stretches to reach beyond the muscle tissue and into the connective tissue like the ligaments and joints.
In addition to that, Hot Yin Yoga also builds stamina and calms and centers the mind.
7. Forrest Yoga
Forrest Yoga gets its name from its creator Ana Forrest. Its motto is, “Go deeper.” And this applies to both the physical and spiritual aspects of the style.
First off, Forrest yoga puts emphasis on breathing and abdominal exercises. These are done in a series of holding positions and standing postures.
Classes usually begin with breathing exercises. Then, it is followed by the upper body and core strengthening activities.
Each pose is held from 10 to 15 breaths. And as the session progresses, stronger poses are introduced.
The postures practiced in Forrest yoga are a combination of positions from Sivananda yoga, Iyengar yoga, and some Native American gestures.
It also incorporates some modern exercise elements such as wrist stretches and shoulder shrugs.
Studios will typically be heated to 85 degrees Fahrenheit for this style of yoga, one of the coolest hot yoga temps there are.
The idea behind Forrest yoga is for practitioners to look deep within themselves.
Inspired by her own personal traumas, Forrest created this style to help people deal with the traumas they came across in their lives.
It pushes practitioners to connect with their emotions. And it encourages them to resolve or cope with personal issues, whether it is emotional or physical.
Forrest yoga also deals with the current stresses of this age. It responds to problems caused by stress, tension, and the like that comes from the different parts of our daily lives.
The spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional aspects of Forrest yoga are connected by four pillars.
These allow for a more holistic and profound experience and journey. These are breath, integrity, strength, and spirit.
The Most Coveted Benefits of Hot Yoga
Hot yoga is understandably not for everybody. With temperatures and humidity that can already get you sweating without even doing anything, some people find it uncomfortable.
But, there are plenty who love the challenge. After all, getting through the practice/ workout in that sweltering heat is an achievement.
Some leave classes feeling refreshed, happy, and clearly enjoying the benefits hot yoga claims it has.
Hot yoga and traditional yoga share plenty of physical, mental, and emotional benefits. These include stress relief, improved flexibility, and improved strength.
But, the added heat in hot yoga gives your body a more intense workout. Here is a closer look at the benefits of hot yoga:
1. Improved Flexibility
For people who weren’t born flexible, yoga isn’t exactly an easy walk in the park. However, the heat in hot yoga makes it easier for your muscles to stretch.
It does the same thing as the warmups to every workout. And it is also safer because stretching cold muscles can injure you.
Hot yoga allows you to stretch further and more profound than any other yoga style. It also provides for a more excellent range of motion.
So, it follows that the poses are more comfortable and more effective. In a study in 2013, researchers found that Bikram yoga improved the flexibility of the study group after eight weeks.
They had better flexibility in their hamstrings, lower back, and shoulders. This makes hot yoga an effective practice for athletes or people who want to improve on their flexibility.
2. Cardiovascular Boost
Working out in warmer conditions definitely pushes your body to work harder. The same goes for hot yoga. The heat gives your heart, lungs, and muscles a more challenging workout.
In a study in 2014, researchers found that doing hot yoga makes your heart pump just as quick as when you are doing a brisk walk at 3.5 miles per hour.
In addition to that, another study found that Bikram yoga can stop atherosclerosis progression.
This is a condition where plaque gathers at the arteries, which can cause a stroke or a heart attack.
The same study also found that Bikram yoga has an effect on the blood vessels.
It can limit changes in the blood vessel lining, which can contribute to the development of heart disease.
3. Improved Lung Capacity
Traditional yoga can already improve your lung capacity significantly.
The deep breathing exercises and the control that is practiced forces your lungs to expand more than usual.
This allows more oxygen to enter your body and be distributed to the rest of your organs. But, with more heat and humidity, it becomes harder to catch your breath.
Much like your heart, hot yoga forces your lungs to work harder. And it helps you train your lungs to retain more air.
4. More Calories Burned
According to the Mayo Clinic, a 160-pound person can burn 183 calories in an hour of basic yoga. Adding heat into that mix can help you burn more.
Because even though you’re not jumping around or running, the heat makes your body work just as hard.
According to a study published in the Colorado State University, hot yoga burned twice as many calories as that of regular yoga.
The calorie burn reached as high as 330 calories for women and 460 calories for men in one hot yoga session.
If you choose to practice one of the more intense and fast-paced styles, that calorie burn can still go up.
Although, of course, hot yoga can’t just be the sole solution if you are looking to lose much weight fast. It can be a compliment to other workouts and lifestyle changes.
5. Clears the Skin
One of the most advertised benefits of hot yoga is detoxification. Unfortunately, this claim is unfounded. It is a myth.
You can’t sweat out the toxins in your body. They’re eliminated by your liver, kidneys, and intestine.
The only truth in this claim is that hot yoga makes you sweat a lot. And the real benefit of this is that it helps clear your skin.
As you sweat, the dirt, oil, and bacteria built up on your skin are purged. While sweat is cleaning your skin on the outside, the overall exercise improves your blood circulation.
This brings oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to your skin cells. It nourishes it and leaves your skin glowing.
6. Builds Bone Density
Yoga trains you to support your weight right. And it also helps improve your posture. These can help make bone density.
According to the Mayo Clinic, weight-bearing exercises, resistance exercises, and stability and balance exercises are right for your bones.
These force you to work against gravity and strengthen your bones.
According to a study in 2014, Bikram yoga increased the bone density of premenopausal women in their hips, neck, and lower back over a five year period.
This is important for people who have conditions like osteoporosis. And it is also especially helpful for older people whose bones are growing weaker as they age.
7. Relieves Arthritis
Overall, yoga is a whole-body workout. And it doesn’t miss your joints.
According to studies, yoga helps reduce joint pain and improve flexibility and function in people with different types of arthritis.
It also showed that yoga improved rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. Hot yoga, in particular, also places less stress on the hands and wrist.
However, yoga isn’t a permanent cure. And for it to continue relieving the pain, it must be done consistently.
8. Reduced Blood Glucose Levels
Yoga is known to help with weight loss and cholesterol control. In addition to that, yoga can also improve the blood sugar control of your body.
It is especially helpful for people at high risk of type 2 diabetes. In a 2013 study, researchers found that Bikram yoga helped improve glucose tolerance in older people with obesity.
But, it did not have the same results as younger lean adults. In another study, yoga was found to have helped in the management of type 2 diabetes and its risk factors.
However, it is not only the exercise that yielded such results, but the overall lifestyle yoga promotes.
9. Reduced Stress Levels
Plenty of people turn to the calming practice of yoga to deal with their stress. And plenty of studies over the years have shown that the practice does help reduce stress and anxiety.
Hot yoga carries the same benefit even though you might think the contrary because of the added heat and challenge. In fact, the heat forces you to focus on your breathing.
This helps calm and clear your mind. According to a study in 2018, hot yoga significantly reduced the stress levels of stressed and physically inactive adults in 16 weeks.
It also improved their general health, energy, and self-efficacy.
10. Slows Aging
Hot yoga doesn’t only make you feel better, both physically and mentally. It also helps you look younger. First off, hot yoga helps you become more flexible and limber.
With continued practice, this enables you to avoid the associated pains and discomforts of your body growing stiffer as you age.
Hot yoga also helps you retain muscle mass. As you grow older, you naturally lose muscle mass. But practicing yoga can reverse this process and keep your body feeling youthful.
Last but not least, meditation in yoga also dramatically helps in slowing aging.
A study found that regular deep meditation increases the production of hormones related to increased longevity and enhanced wellbeing.
These hormones are melatonin, cortisol, and DHEA.
Melatonin helps you get better sleep. Meanwhile, cortisol is the natural alarm system of your body. It can help regulate blood sugar levels, metabolism, and help reduce inflammation.
DHEA, on the other hand, is known as the anti-aging hormone. As you get older, your body produces less of it.
But, meditation and yoga help keep your body on a steady production of your own youth hormone.
11. Eases Depression
Yoga is a practice that not only allows you to focus on your physical self but also on your emotions and mental state. It is well known for reducing stress and helping improve your mood.
But, its benefits also extend to relieving mental illnesses such as depression. According to the American Psychology Association, yoga can help reduce the symptoms of depression.
And in a recent review of different studies, yoga was deemed as an effective way to reduce depressive symptoms. It also improved the overall mental wellbeing of participants.
The Downsides of Hot Yoga
There are always two sides to everything. And you can’t get hot yoga with just one. Along with its benefits, hot yoga also has some downsides.
Over the years, devoted practitioners and critics have been fighting over this. And if you are new to the practice, it would be good to know these things.
With the conditions in hot yoga, it would be better to go in carefully rather than blindly. These are some of the significant downsides of hot yoga:
The heat in hot yoga studios helps you achieve a deeper stretch. However, that is not always a good thing. Although it might look good and feel good, you can overstretch yourself.
Forcing those joint-heavy poses can injure your muscles and ligaments. Some of the most common yoga-related injuries occur in the hip, lower back, knees, and hamstrings.
According to an article in the New York Times, the extreme range of motion that yoga develops also isn’t always a benefit. Often times, it is counterproductive.
Overstretching can damage ligaments. Once these are stretched out, they do not go back to their original shape. And they can cause loose or wobbly joints.
You may not even feel that you have overstretched yourself until after class. That is why it is always recommended to work slowly and safely into each pose.
With the added heat in hot yoga, you can already expect yourself to sweat like crazy. And though this might feel like the workout is working, it might actually dehydrate you.
This can lead you to become dizzy and nauseous. You are also at a higher risk of fainting. This is especially risky for beginners who have little idea of what to expect.
That is why it is crucial to take the necessary precautions and make sure you are well hydrated before, during, and after the class.
3. Heat Exhaustion
Your body temperature naturally goes up when you workout. When that happens, your blood vessels open up more to allow you to sweat.
This helps your body cool down and manage your internal temperature. However, in a hot room, your body has a harder time cooling down.
And when it becomes too much, you may experience heat exhaustion. At this point, your body is not regulating your temperature anymore.
Your blood pressure can drop, as well. The symptoms of heat exhaustion include weakness, dizziness, nausea, and muscle cramps.
A study published in 2015 raised concerns about doing yoga in extreme heat like that in Bikram classes.
According to the study, participants reached body temperatures of 103 degrees during a 90-minute class.
This is only a degree lower than the 104-degree threshold that doctors consider dangerous. This is why doctors recommend beginners to try hot yoga styles that have lower heat temperatures.
According to an ACE study published in 2013, hot yoga classes with more moderate heat pose no risks.
Hot yoga is also not recommended for pregnant women and people with cardiovascular problems, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
If they’re really adamant about trying, though, they should check in with their doctors. They should determine the risks, precautions to be taken, and what kind of hot yoga is the best for them.
How To Prepare Yourself For Hot Yoga
The effects of hot yoga differ from person to person. But, before you could try it out, you should prepare yourself right.
Remember, your body can’t immediately acclimate to the conditions of hot yoga. So, you have to keep some things in mind to avoid injury and the other risks of hot yoga.
These are also for you to fully reap the benefits of hot yoga.
1. Make Sure It’s Safe For You
First and foremost, know about the risks of hot yoga. If you have any medical conditions, it would be better for you to check with your doctor first.
This way, you can determine if it’s okay for you to go under such conditions. It could also help you pick out the right hot yoga class for you.
2. Pick the Right Hot Yoga Class
Before entering the nearest hot yoga studio to you, choose the right hot yoga style for yourself first. Find one that matches your fitness level.
And also consider your purposes and intentions on doing a hot yoga class.
Before you even get to class, make sure that you are very well hydrated. It is recommended that you start upping your water consumption hours or even the night before your class.
So, try hydrating every hour before your class. You can also try eating water-rich foods like cucumbers, berries, and yogurt.
However, be careful not to drink too much in the hour before class. Instead, save it for the class itself.
Make sure to bring at least 32 oz of water for you to sip throughout. Afterward, rehydrate yourself again with plenty more water.
4. Eat Healthily
Nourish yourself with good food throughout the day. But, stop eating an hour or two before class. This helps you avoid feeling nauseous.
And it’ll allow your body to process the food before you do your workout.
5. Wear the Right Clothes
Knowing how much you’ll sweat, wear clothes that are breathable and lightweight. These include sports bras and tank tops.
It would also be better if you had some that are moisture-wicking. Avoid wearing baggy clothes as well such as sweatpants and loose t-shirts.
These hold on to your sweat and weighs you down. If you’re not comfortable wearing tank tops or sports bras, wear layers that are easy to remove.
By the middle of the class, you won’t even notice what you’re wearing anymore anyway.
6. Pack Right
Before heading into every class, make sure that you’re packed right. Make sure to bring extra towels. One is for your sweat.
The other is for your mat, so you’ll have a better grip. Bring extra clothes to change into as well. Then, don’t forget your yoga block.
This will help you feel more comfortable in certain poses and help you align yourself better. And last but not least, don’t ever forget your bottle of water.
7. Arrive Early
Arriving early in class will help your body adjust to the heat before the exercise. It also gives you a chance to ask your instructor any questions you might have.
And, of course, arriving early can help you get the best spot in the room.
8. Know the Signs of Heat Exhaustion
Heat exhaustion can creep up on you without you even noticing. That’s why it is essential to know the most common symptoms. This way, you can be more in tune with your body.
And you can prevent heat exhaustion from worsening. It would also be better for you to know what to do when you experience such symptoms.
9. Know When to Take a Break
There is no shame in taking a break. Even if you’re surrounded by people who just keep powering through the class, take a break when you need to. Don’t be afraid of judgment.
Even the pros know how grueling hot yoga is. So, whenever it’s necessary, take a breather. Don’t wait for the dizziness, nausea, or weakness to force you.
Acknowledge your limits and take care of your body.
10. Plan a Post-Hot Yoga Energy Boost
As important it is to prepare your body before a session, it is also important to refuel your body after.
So, to avoid the hassle, make yourself a post-workout energy boost before class. Some great post-workout snacks include smoothies, fruits, oatmeal, and toast with fruits.
Hot yoga is different for everybody. But, you’ll never know how it is for you until you try. If you do, though, take caution and take care.
Remember, more than perfecting the poses, yoga is about taking care of yourself.