The Benefits and Risks of Hot Yoga: Is it Right for You?


Hot yoga has gained popularity over the past decade, with many people swearing for its benefits. It involves standing or sitting in various poses for extended periods, aimed at stretching muscles and enhancing flexibility. Hot yoga classes typically involve moving from one pose to another, often accompanied by music. There are various types of yoga, each serving a specific purpose such as strengthening, breathing exercises, and meditation. Hot yoga falls under Hatha yoga, focusing on balance, strength, and flexibility through controlled movements.

However, hot yoga isn't for everyone, and some may experience dizziness, nausea, and lightheadedness due to the high temperature. Hot yoga has numerous benefits, such as stress reduction, improved circulation, and increased metabolism. But, it's crucial to note that hot yoga may not be suitable for individuals with certain medical conditions. It's important to check the instructor's credentials and experience, as well as drink plenty of water during the session. In this article, we'll explore the health benefits of hot yoga and who should avoid it.


hatha yoga

Hot Yoga Benefits Burn Calories Strength and Endurance Safety Concerns

There are several types of yoga, each with its own purpose. Some focus on stretching, strengthening, breathing exercises, meditation, etc. Hot yoga is a form of Hatha yoga, which focuses on improving strength, balance, and flexibility through controlled movements.

Hot Yoga has become very popular over the last decade. Many people swear by its benefits. Is hot yoga really good for us?

Hot yoga has health benefits, but it's not for everyone

If you've ever seen someone doing downward dog in a sauna, you know what hot yoga feels like. The temperature inside a room can reach up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit, and sweat drips down your forehead. You'll feel the heat radiating from the floor, and the air becomes thick and humid.

- There are different types of hot yoga, such as Vinyasa Flow, where poses are held longer and there is less movement during transitions, and power yoga, where moves are done quickly and intensely.

- Some people find that the heat makes them dizzy, nauseous, and lightheaded. Others say the heat helps them focus better.

- Hot yoga is great for those looking to tone and strengthen certain areas of the body. It can help reduce stress, improve circulation, boost metabolism, and even fight depression.

- But it's important to note that hot yoga isn't suitable for anyone suffering from asthma, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, epilepsy, glaucoma, migraines, multiple sclerosis, pregnancy, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, scoliosis, sleep apnea, thyroid problems, and vertigo.

- Before taking part in hot yoga, make sure you check out the instructor's credentials. Ask about their experience teaching yoga and how long they've been practicing.

- Don't forget to drink plenty of water throughout the session.

what hot yoga

Does it burn calories?

The answer depends on whether you're talking about hot yoga or regular yoga. A recent study found that most people overestimate how many calories they'll burn while practicing hot yoga. But experts say there are plenty of reasons why hot yoga isn't necessarily better for burning fat.

In fact, some studies suggest that hot yoga could actually be counterproductive to weight loss. "You don't lose weight because of sweating," says Dr. Tara Tracy, a board-certified family physician and medical director of the Mayo Clinic Wellness Program. "Sweating is just one part of the equation."

So what does help you shed pounds? Experts agree that eating well and getting enough sleep are key. Yoga also makes sense if you want to tone up, but it doesn't seem to offer significant benefits for those looking to drop pounds.

Hot yoga and weight loss

Hot yoga is good for you because it burns calories, according to celebrity trainer Tracy Anderson. But does it really work? And what about the heat?

In her book "The Body Book," Anderson writes that hot yoga is "one of the best forms of physical conditioning." She says it's ideal for athletes and anyone looking to lose weight.

Anderson told INSIDER that hot yoga doesn't burn nearly as many calories as running or cycling. However, she said that the benefits of hot yoga outweigh its drawbacks.

She said it's important to remember that the body can handle gentle activity, even at a high temperature. So while you're sweating during a hot yoga class, don't worry that you'll overheat yourself.

Another benefit of hot yoga is its low impact. You won't be doing jumping jacks or sprinting around the room. Instead, you'll focus on relaxing and breathing deeply.

And you'll still sweat — just less than you do in a traditional workout session.

Stretching physical boundaries

The benefits of hot yoga are well documented, including increased strength and endurance. But there’s another benefit of the practice: flexibility. In fact, research suggests that people who regularly practice hot yoga tend to be more flexible than those who don’t.

While some studies suggest that regular practitioners of hot yoga are less likely to suffer injuries than others, many experts agree that the practice does come with risks. For one, the temperature of the room can make it difficult to regulate body temperature. And while the heated room helps increase blood flow to muscles, it doesn’t necessarily help reduce inflammation.

Safety concerns about hot yoga

Hot yoga is controversial because it involves intense physical activity in 105-degree rooms. Some practitioners say it helps them lose weight and tone up; others are concerned about injuries.

There have been a few alarming instances reported during and after hot yoga classes, including the 2016 death of a 35-year-old woman who experienced sudden cardiac arrhythmia during a session. A 2012 study found that people's core temps rose to 104 degrees during Bikram classes, while another study published in 2015 warned that those taking part in hot yoga classes run the risk of overheating and experiencing symptoms such as dizziness, fainting, headaches, and nausea.

But that research was flawed, according to Tracy, whose 2014 study found a maximum core temperature of 101.6 degrees, with an average rise of 0.8 degrees. The danger zone, he explains, begins at 102 degrees, meaning that many people who practice hot yoga regularly do so without incident.

Tracy recommends lying down if you're feeling lightheaded during a class and gives his patients several sessions to acclimatize to the heat. "The worst thing you could do," he says, "is try something new."

The American Council on Exercise (ACES) published a 2015 study raising concerns about Bikram Yoga. In the study, researchers observed 10 people doing a 90-minute session of hot yoga at a Bikram Studio in Los Angeles. Temperatures reached 102 degrees Fahrenheit during the class. Body temperature increased throughout the class, reaching a peak of 103 degrees.

During the study, participants did not report any symptoms of dehydration, nor did they complain of feeling overheated or fatigued. But the researchers noted that one participant had recently undergone surgery and another had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Both participants reported having difficulty breathing while practicing the poses.

“For a person who’s unfit or not used to hot yoga, there’s some concern that they might experience some degree of heat intolerance," said Cedric Bryant, Ph.D., chief science officer at ACE, in a statement. "But for someone who’s fit and practiced regularly, we don't see any issues."

In response to the study, ACE recommended that beginners stick to regular yoga or try hot yoga classes offered at studios that offer them at lower heat. A previous ACE study published in 2013 concluded that hot yoga classes at low temperatures are safe for those who are physically fit and well-hydrated.

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