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Feeling the Heat With Hot Yoga

hot-yoga-benefitsOne of my readers asked me if Hot Yoga is suitable for beginners or it’s only for advanced students. To answer this question, Hot Yoga is definitely suitable for beginners but I strongly recommend that if you’ve never done yoga before, you take a couple of Hatha Yoga classes to get familiar with the poses.

As a beginner, jumping into Hot Yoga straight away can be overwhelming because not only are you trying to figure out how to the poses properly, but the adjusting to the heat and getting used to sweating buckets like you’ve never done before in your life can be a challenge in itself.

What is Hot Yoga?

Hot yoga is a type of yoga practiced in a heated and humid room to mimic India’s climate. The purpose is to warm the muscles for more flexibility and to induce sweat to release toxins from the body. The temperature in the room ranges typically from 85-100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Hot Yoga Benefits

  • Stimulates blood circulation to the limbs
  • Promotes relaxation. Ever notice how a hot shower makes you so calm and relaxed? Well, practicing yoga in a heated room does the same thing.
  • Elevates your heart rate for a great workout
  • Allows for more flexibility. The heat allows you to get deeper in those poses safely than if you were do them in a non-heated yoga class
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Increases endurance (thanks to the heat)
  • Increases your capacity to build muscle (thanks to the heat)
  • Burn more calories

The Detox (Myth?) in Hot Yoga

In my research for this post, I found there to be conflicting views about detoxification in Hot Yoga. If you take any type of Hot Yoga class the biggest claim you’ll hear is that you’ll release toxins and impurities through heavy sweating.

However, in my research, I found there to be no scientific evidence (that I can find at least) to support this claim because the act of sweating is to only cool you down. Actually,  it’s the kidneys and liver that detox your body from impurities not your sweat glands.

I’ve also read that we can sweat out only less than 1 percent of toxins.

And for the record, sweat is not made up of toxins: it’s actually mostly water, some salt and proteins, carbohydrates and urea.

So what to believe? And whom to believe?  If we are not detoxing in Hot Yoga, then why do we feel so good after a heavy sweaty Hot Yoga class? The explanation I’ve found is that because your body has to work harder in a Hot Yoga class, you release a lot more endorphins…the same happy chemicals in your brain that you get after a great workout.  

So you may be confusing your endorphin rush with detoxing.

I think that in the end it doesn’t matter. What matters is how you feel after Hot Yoga and if you feel great, refreshed, invigorated and dare I say it— “detoxed” then good for you!

Is Hot Yoga Safe For Everyone?

Hot Yoga is generally safe for everyone (and that includes children and seniors).

However those who had their lymph nodes surgically removed, who have heart problems, and those with high and low pressure should avoid practicing Hot Yoga.

If you have any other medical issues, are pregnant or if you’re in doubt, consult with your doctor before beginning your Hot Yoga journey.

Is Hot Yoga Good For Weight Loss?

Combined with a healthy diet and an exercise routine, you can definitely lose weight when practicing Hot Yoga. But don’t rely on doing Hot Yoga alone to lose weight and especially if you consume a lot of junk and processed food.

Hot Yoga At Home?

Who says you can’t do Hot Yoga at home? Just get space heaters and designated a room for your Hot Yoga practice. 

Hot Yoga vs. Bikram Yoga — Are They the Same Thing?

Bikram Yoga is a franchise and the biggest one in the Hot Yoga genre. Bikram Yoga follows a set structure of 26 series in 90 minutes derived from Hatha Yoga.  This yoga style was founded by  Bikram Choudhury in the 70s when he travelled to Japan to teach yoga. The studios were so cold that Choudhury had to bring in space heaters to stop shivering and that’s when the concept of Hot Yoga was born. Bikram Yoga classes are heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit and 40% humidity.

To make it clear, Bikram Yoga was the first type of Hot Yoga of its kind, and Hot Yoga is basically any type of yoga class practiced in a heated room that does not follow Bikram’s structure. Most Hot Yoga classes follow a flowing vinyasa style practice.

What About Moksha Yoga?

Moksha Yoga is a Canadian Hot Yoga franchise and is known as Modo Yoga internationally. These classes are cardiovascular workouts that strengthen, tone and loosens the muscles, while calming the mind and reducing stress.

Hot Yoga vs Regular Yoga —Yay or Nay?

In my research, I’ve come across critics saying that practicing Hot Yoga should be avoided.

They make a point that Hot Yoga addicts have a tendency to push themselves through the heat, which makes them addicted to the endorphins that their bodies release after they push their bodies further than it wants to go— to the point that it’s harmful.

Hot Yoga Lovers often make a point that since yoga originated in India (in a warm climate) that it’s a safe practice, only to have critics retort that yogis in India practiced yoga before sunrise and after sunset to avoid the intense heat.

Now in all the Hot Yoga classes I’ve been to so far, I haven’t experienced extreme heat to the point I can’t stand it so I do wonder how much of this is exaggerated by critics in the media.

It can also be that more and more studios are lowering the intensity of the heat and humidity in their studios.

Anyway, based in my research I would conclude that both heated and non-heated types of yoga are good for you and it all comes to preference and how you feel after these classes.

Is one better than the other? In my opinion, no. In fact, my favorite type of yoga is Hot Yoga.

And once again yes, Hot Yoga is safe, but respect your body’s limits.

What To Wear? — Hot Yoga Clothes for Women

The least things you wear at a Hot Yoga class, the better. You can certainly wear long yoga pants with a tank top, but I think that’s asking for a heat stroke. I say go for shorts or capris and pair it with either a bralette or a sleeveless tee all of which you can pick up by visiting YogaOutlet.com

Onzie-Briana-Yoga-Sports-Bra
Check out this outfit on YogaOutlet.com by clicking here

 

Balance-Collection-Print-Yoga-Shorts
Check out this outfit on YogaOutlet.com by clicking here

Hot Yoga Tips

  • Stay hydrated before and after your Hot Yoga class
  • Bring water to your class
  • Have some coconut water on hand. This made all the difference for me when I started doing that as water is not enough to get through your Hot Yoga class.
    You absolutely need to replenish all your lost electrolytes during class and coconut water is the perfect (and tasty) source for this.
  • Make sure to own a good quality yoga mat.  
    Cheap yoga mats generally don’t hold up well against sweat and moisture and as a result they cause you to slip and lose grip. If you don’t want to replace your mat or buy one specifically for Hot Yoga, consider placing a yoga mat towel over it to stop slippage. I love to use my Yogitoes Yoga Mat Towel.
  • Even if you own a quality yoga mat, consider using a yoga mat towel anyway for extra grip and for a faster cleanup. It’s easier and faster to wash a sweaty yoga mat towel then to clean a sweat-drenched yoga mat. Bring a yoga hand towel to wipe the sweat off your face during and after class. While some teachers don’t advise you to do this as the body will produce more sweat as soon as you wipe it off, from my experience it’s very unpleasant to withhold wiping sweat for long periods of times and especially when it keeps dripping inside my eyes.
  • If you can’t stand the heat and feel dizzy or faint,  do step out of class to take a break even if teachers discourage you from doing this. You have to take care of yourself and suffering from heat exhaustion or a heat stroke is not worth going through it. Respect your body’s limits.

Are you a proponent or a critic of Hot Yoga? Do you feel “detoxed” after a Hot Yoga Class?

Leave a comment or question below.

PS: I respond to all comments.

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6 Comments

  1. Loresa Loresa

    I do a hot yoga class called yinyasa. It is a 75 minute class that starts off with a flow, and then moves into yin based yoga. In addition to yoga, I run, lift weights, kayak, and swim. I find the yinyasa class is a great compliment to my routine.

    • My apologies for the delay. Interesting! I actually just tried a heated yin classes last week for the first time, but it wasn’t like your class and it was only 60 minutes. I did enjoy it. Yoga is a great compliment to workout routines and I’m sure your muscles also love yoga too!

  2. Nikki Nikki

    Thanks for the article it was really informative. I can honestly say I don’t enjoy yoga, but Bikram Yoga saved me from having to undergo back surgery. So, I would and do recommend it to people. It is so much more of a workout than you would think. And the heat! Jeesh! Totally agree on the fewer clothes the better!

    • Wow that’s amazing how to were able to avoid back surgery. What is it about yoga that you don’t enjoy? I’m curious to hear about it. For me it’s very important that I resonate with the teacher and their style of teaching or else I won’t go back to the class again. I’m pretty picky in this way.

  3. Andrea Andrea

    I have heard about Hot Yoga but have never tried it. However this has made me more curious and wanting to try it out. It doesn’t sound dangerous but I’m sure you need to stay hydrated. Sounds like a good work out, definitely going to try and see if it’s available in my area. Thanks!

    • Hey Andrea! Drinking water is a must and having coconut water on hand REALLY makes a difference to stay hydrated too. I literally can’t do Hot Yoga without having some Vita Coco by my side or else I can’t perform on the mat for the whole duration of the class.

      Let me know how your experience with Hot Yoga goes! Take care!

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