What is Hot Yoga & Its Benefits

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

Hot yoga has become one of the fastest-growing trends in recent years, due to its intensity and the impressive results some people have experienced.

What is Hot Yoga?

Quite simply, hot yoga is the practice of regular yoga exercises in hot or humid temperatures, often exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Bikram yoga is the most famous style of hot yoga and was synonymous with the idea for nearly 4 decades after its introduction in the United States. However, other schools and methodologies of yoga have begun to incorporate heated elements in their practice to mimic the effects of the Bikram school. The thought process behind this yoga is that the heat helps to focus concentration and muscle control while boosting heart rate and circulation. Excessive sweating is not uncommon when practicing hot yoga, particularly in styles that have lengthy holding times for individual poses. [1]

Note: Sweating is often a good thing, but can also result in some unwanted side effects.

A young woman dressed in white clothes sitting in padmasana pose and practicing yoga on the beach

Yoga can help calm your mind while helping you stay fit. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Benefits of Hot Yoga

The major benefits of Bikram yoga include the following: [2]

  • Weight loss
  • Boosted muscle strength
  • Clearer skin
  • Stronger immune system
  • Increased heart rate
  • Boosted metabolism
  • Improved sleep patterns

By boosting metabolism, this yoga will lead to more calorie and fat-burning, making this more effective than regular yoga in that regard. The intensity of the workout and the long holding of certain poses is also known to increase muscle tone. Excess sweating promotes detoxification of the body and the skin, which means a more efficient metabolism and stronger immune defense in your body’s largest organ. As with regular yoga, hot yoga can boost flexibility and promote the healthy release of hormones, which can aid in your sleep patterns, mood, and other nervous system disorders. [3]

Hot Yoga vs Regular Yoga

As mentioned above, the term “hot yoga” can be used to describe a number of different yoga practices under the conditions of increased heat.

  • Hot yoga is considered more intense and physically demanding and is often practiced by experienced yogis. On the other hand, regular yoga is often a more centering and relaxing exercise.
  • Bikram yoga, specifically, is based on a pattern of 26 poses that can be held for extended periods of time, in a room at approximately 105 degrees Fahrenheit, and the sessions can last for up to 90 minutes. Regular yoga tends to be practiced in a comfortable, room-temperature environment for an average of 60 minutes.

How to Prepare for Hot Yoga?

Some of the key preparations for hot yoga include the following:

  • Hydration
  • Self-confidence
  • Proper clothing choices

Due to the likelihood of heavy sweating, you will want to arrive well hydrated to prevent dizziness or nausea during the session. Clothing choices should also be loose and sweat-wicking, so you feel comfortable and not overheated. Finally, don’t worry about how well you are keeping up with the rest of the class; focus on your own abilities and improvement, rather than measuring up to anyone else. [4]

Side Effects

Practicing hot yoga may have side effects that include:

  • Sweating: This type of yoga is physically demanding and can cause excessive sweating.
  • Pregnancy: Pregnant women are not encouraged to practice hot yoga, nor are those with cardiovascular conditions unless approved by a doctor. [5]
  • Dehydration: This can cause a wide range of side effects
  • High temperature: Finally, some hot yoga programs crank the heat up past 105 degrees, which can be dangerous for some people.

So find a class that is appropriate, safe, and comfortable for your skill level and wellness goals and start practicing!

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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