Hot yoga is a hot topic among today’s practicing yogis. Some tout the benefits as being life changing, while others argue that practicing yoga in a heated room is unwise. We’ve gathered some information to fill you in on the pros and cons of hot yoga and included some of our favorite products from the “Hot Yoga” tab on our website!
Hot yoga is believed to have been developed by Bikram Choudhury in the 1970s, hence why Bikram Yoga is a popular form of hot yoga. Typically, Bikram yoga consists of 2 sets of 26 hatha poses that are practiced for 90 minutes in a room heated between 95 and 105 degrees fahrenheit. Some yogis suggest that the reason for the extreme heat is to replicate the conditions in India, where yoga originated.
Bikram/Hot yoga is generally safe to practice, and can even provide benefits that extend beyond regular yoga practice. The extra heat in the room warms the muscles and ligaments that we aim to stretch during yoga, which makes them more relaxed, allowing them to stretch more full, and with less incidence of injury. The increased temperature causes your internal body temperature to rise, which produces a few different effects. First, you will find that your perspiration is much more intense than in a regular yoga class, or maybe even a trip to the gym. However, this is a good thing, since perspiration is one of the natural ways your body expels toxins! One of the downsides of the excess sweating, is that it can cause regular mats to become slippery, and over time, can develop an unpleasant smell. (We recommend the Dragonfly Yoga Natural Rubber Lite Mat with its closed cell technology, that keeps moisture and bacteria out of the mat.) Additionally, your white blood cell and T-cell function improves as your body temperatures rises, because your body is preparing to fight off the disease that it thinks is coming, which can lead to a stronger immune system. Hot Yoga is often practiced by individuals who are working on weight loss goals. Some yogis believe that because your heart rate increases when practicing in a heated room, your body must work harder to thermoregulate, therefore burning more calories, without high-impact exercises that can be hard on joints.
As with any new exercise regime, there are some cons to hot yoga that should be considered before making a decision. Because heart rate can be greatly increased, it is not advised for individuals with high blood pressure to partake in Bikram Yoga. The heat and humidity of the room can also lead to a greater risk of dehydration. We recommend bringing a water bottle to class, and taking frequent sips, even if it interrupts your practice, because safety is most important. As you perspire, your body loses even more water, so remember to keep hydrating throughout the day, even after class. Though yoga pants are a popular choice for most yogis, you may consider switching to shorts and a loose fitting t-shirt, since they will not cling to your body in moments of severe perspiration. The most important thing to consider is being aware of your body and your personal limits. Yes, yoga is about improving your abilities, but Bikram/Hot yoga is a whole new level of intensity. Listen to your body and do not push yourself longer or harder than you can.
Anyone who has tried Bikram/Hot yoga will tell you- it is intense! Depending on how you look at it, that may be good or bad. If this is something that you are prepared to tackle, it can prove to be a great fitness challenge.