Hot Yoga: Five Questions Answered

As is the case with exercises such as weightlifting, martial arts, and swimming, there are many different variations of yoga. Each of these variations serves a different purpose and they can all help practitioners to achieve specific goals. One of the most common variations of yoga is called “hot yoga.” In this article, we’ll consider (and answer!) five common questions people have about hot yoga.  


 1. What is hot yoga? 


Hot yoga is a variation of traditional yoga that involves practicing in a hot and humid environment. Hot yoga combines strenuous workouts and poses that develop muscle strength. Hot yoga studios are typically heated to about 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The high temperature ensures that participants sweat (a lot!) and maintain an elevated heart rate. Hot yoga sessions can last anywhere from 30-90 minutes depending on the experience level of a particular class.


2. What is Bikram yoga? 


If you search the internet for “hot yoga,” you will probably find references to Bikram yoga. Bikram is a specific kind of hot yoga that involves 90 minutes of standing and stretching postures. Bikram yoga focuses on stretching and stimulating all your major muscle groups. During a Bikram yoga session, you can expect to hold positions that contract your muscles for longer periods of time than you would in a regular yoga practice.  


3. What are the health benefits of hot yoga? 


Practicing yoga in a hot environment warms up your muscles and helps them to stretch and contract with less resistance. Working in a hot and humid studio also pushes your heart to beat faster and your body to sweat. Just like when you visit a sauna, the increased sweating will cause your body to release built-up toxins through your skin. Some research has also shown that people who practice hot yoga feel more energized and accomplished than those who just practice regular yoga. According to Dr. Stacy D. Hunter, assistant professor in the department of health at Texas State University, after a hot yoga class, you may leave “feeling like you have worked harder for no reason besides the temperature.”  


4. How do I prepare for hot yoga? 


Because hot yoga taxes your body differently than regular yoga, you will need to prepare a little differently as well. Since you will be sweating quite a bit, you should bring a towel to spread over your mat and another small towel to wipe your face. You will also need lots of water! Sweating in a hot room will cause you to dehydrate very quickly, so it’s important that you replenish your body’s supply of water regularly during the session. You may also benefit from a few moments of pre-practice meditation. Hot yoga is an intense and strenuous exercise. Before you begin, take some time to focus your mind and consider your goals for the session. 


5. Is hot yoga a good exercise choice for me? 


Hot yoga can be a beneficial and rewarding addition to your exercise routine, but it’s not for everyone. Because your heart rate is elevated during hot yoga sessions, health professionals advise against participating if you are pregnant, easily dehydrated, or if you have a history of heart disease. You should also think twice about hot yoga if you often experience heat-related illnesses such as heatstroke.  




Definitions of Hot Yoga and Bikram: