Is Hot Yoga Right for Me?

Understanding the pros + cons

Yoga Mat and thermostat at 105 degrees Fahrenheit

Most people understand the health benefits of yoga: flexibility, stress relief and muscle strength just to name a few. But why is it different when you turn up the heat? Is the increase in degrees a gimmick or is it actually beneficial to your health?

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What is hot yoga, anyway?

Most hot yoga classes purposefully heat the room between 90 and 105 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat helps lubricate tendons and ligaments, making it easier to fold into certain stretches and poses. “The heat allows participants to get a deeper stretch because their body is warmer and they can move into the poses a little deeper,” says yoga instructor Jennifer Sauer.

On the flip side, it can also be easy to overdo it in a hot yoga class. Because of the high temperature in the room, you might not realize how hard you are working and you could end up taking stretches too far before you are ready.

Hot yoga should be something that you ease into. So taking some regular yoga classes first and getting an idea of your current flexibility level is recommended. Beginner yoga classes also help build on your knowledge of the poses and sequences.

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While people have reported pain relief, detoxification and weight loss from hot yoga, scientific research is limited, Sauer says. It’s safe to say that hot yoga is more vigorous than traditional practices, she notes, but the jury is still out on overall calorie burn and weight loss.

Who should avoid hot yoga?

Like other types of exercise, hot yoga isn’t for everyone. Hot yoga is not suggested for those who are pregnant or have a heart condition. The heat can also aggravate asthma.

Sauer recommends looking out for side effects such as dizziness, lightheadedness and not being able to take a deep breath in. “If that happens, return to a stable position or leave the studio until you feel better,” she says “It’s important to stay hydrated and listen to your body.”

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Think you’re ready to give it a shot?

So when it comes to hot yoga — try attending a few basic or beginner yoga classes first. Then when you feel comfortable, try incorporating a heated class.   

“There are different styles of yoga, so if you try a class that doesn’t appeal to you, try another type of yoga or a different instructor,” Sauer says. “The heat isn’t for everyone — and that’s perfectly OK!”

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