Updated: Jan 21
Hot Yoga has grown in popularity over recent years. So have the stories around the benefit of doing this style of yoga. Some of which are true, some of which are unfounded.
If you're considering attending one of the classes but you’re not 100% sure, this blog will answer everything you need to know.
What Is Hot Yoga?
"Hot yoga" is used to describe any yoga or yoga-inspired fitness styles that use heat. A Hot Yoga class will have its room temperature at around 40c. Hence the word hot!
What's the difference between Yoga & Hot Yoga?
It's a simple explanation. Hot yoga is exactly the same routine and has the same poses as normal yoga. The difference is that the room temperature will be around 35-40c.
Is Hot Yoga Dangerous?
If you're not careful it can be. There are some added risks here that do not apply to a normal yoga class.
1. Risk of overstretching - as your muscles are warmer and looser you have an increased chance of pulling or straining a muscle.
2. Dehydration - Any exercise that causes you to sweat a lot bring this risk. Make sure you hydrate properly before and after class.
3. Weakness, dizziness, and especially nausea – You’re body won’t be used to the extra heat that it will be subjected to during a hot yoga session and this could cause nausea. If you start to feel this way during the class, get out into some colder air.
Can You Lose Weight By Doing Hot Yoga?
This is one area most people often want answers to. You aren't the only one either as there are a fair few studies into this.
This study consisted of 24 90-minute Bikram sessions over a course of 8-weeks. It only showed modest decreases in body fat compared to a control group.
Another study took 24 adults of average age 30 and 18 older adults average age around 50. Both groups did an 8-week Bikram yoga program. Researchers found no significant changes in body fat percentages or body mass.
There was also a critical review of 9 hot yoga studies to try and end this debate once and for all. This review found that none of the studies showed that hot yoga had produced any significant changes in body fat percentage.
Not what you wanted to hear? Here's an explanation...
It's very easy to compare rapid water weight-loss with the real deal.
Studies show that you can lose up to 1.5 litres per hour (60-minutes) working outside on hot days.
1.5 litres is the equivalent of about 3.5 pounds per hour.
Hot yoga classes are normally 90 minutes long so that number jumps up to over 5 pounds.
Now I can't blame you if you go home after a class, feeling all sweaty and accomplished and jumping on the scales straight away to see the results of the work you've put in. It's natural.
Just know if you do see weight loss, chances are you will put it back on once your body has re-hydrated and recovered.
Does Hot Yoga Release Toxins?
There is also a lot of debate around this one. Some yogis say yes, some say no. It's important to know that your bodies primary detox organs are the liver and kidneys. Sometimes they’re not able to get rid of everything.
What doesn’t leave gets stored in the fat, so the body gets rid of it through a secondary system, which is sweat.
It's also important to note the main goal of sweating is not to detox but to cool down and overheated body.
The idea you can sweat out toxins is also backed by this study.
This showed sweat can aid the removal of heavy metal toxins like arsenic, lead, and mercury in sweat.
Whilst Hot Yoga isn't going to completely Detox you, it can help get rid of a small amount. Real toxins like mercury, alcohol and most drugs are eliminated by the liver and kidneys. Not through sweat.
Hot Yoga Can Improve Heart Health
There is a lack of real evidence on the affect hot yoga can have on heart health. Especially around High blood pressure and cholesterol.
However, one study by Dr Hirofumi Tanaka found that Bikram yoga appeared to have favourable effects on metabolic markers, including blood lipids, insulin resistance, and glucose tolerance.
There are also studies that show spending prolonged periods of time in a heated environment can reduce the risk of hypertension. Which is otherwise known as high blood pressure.
However, in the example above it was in a Sauna.
As with any exercise regime, results come from a combination of factors. You can't sweat out weight and toxins. You must change your lifestyle and keep it in line with your fitness goals.
Hot Yoga Classes are a great way to mix things up and try something new. Just make sure your expectations are set and your body is well prepared.
Don't forget your towel and water!