18 Sizzling Benefits of Hot Yoga (And 5 Must-know Risks)

Geoffrey Lions
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18 Sizzling Benefits of Hot Yoga: Turn up The Heat

Interested in trying hot yoga like the celebrities do? Though it’s popularly known as “Bikram Yoga,” Hot Yoga doesn’t have to mean Bikram (and Bikram-only) Yoga. The fancy name refers specifically to a certain sequence of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises that are performed in a room heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit-a stab at trying to keep the hyperthermia boundries at bay-but any practice that has this kind of heat is considered hot yoga. And it’s becoming more and more mainstream as more and more people swear to its benefits.

If you’re scared off by the idea of sweating and panting in a room so hot you feel like you’ve wandered into a Caribbean pizza oven, here are 18 sizzling benefits of hot yoga to tone down your fears. Just imagine that this post is one of your flowing, sweat-soaked yoga tank tops, and let it drip down deep into your subconscious to evoke a cool sense of confidence.

Let’s get started!

1: Improves Flexibility

Improved flexibility results from rigorous stretching of muscles and joints, which are typically restricted by tightness and injuries.

All the classes are performed in a room heated to 108 – 113 degrees. The heat improves blood flow into muscles and joints, which prepares them for a deep stretch.

The intense heat also creates a strong detoxification effect, reducing the amount of toxins in the blood and fat cells. As a result, your body must use more oxygen to breathe. This can improve the quality of the blood and leads to better cardiovascular health.

An added bonus is that the heat increases the production of sweat. Lots of sweat means more toxins are flushed out of the body.

Benefits of sweating:

  • Burns calories
  • Loosens toxins

2: Strengthens Your Body

Hot yoga’s push-ups, cobras, and core-strengthening poses are challenging enough, let alone when the temperature begins to rise.

Make it even harder, yoga moves are done in a smooth complementary flow of postures. Once core strength grows, the postures demand greater flexibility as a balance.

Added benefits to the already challenging poses are that muscles, joints, and ligaments are lubricated. Doctors and trainers both recommend hot yoga as a training routine to improve flexibility and fitness level.

People get carried away because they feel good afterwards, and it helps with arthritis-related conditions.

It is said that stepping into a hot room immediately increases some hormones that are associated with weight loss like epinephrine, norepinephrine, and cortisol.

Before doing Bikram Hot Yoga or any other kind, ask the instructor to explain the benefits of doing hot yoga. Professors are required to break down the potentially dangerous poses in the class. While you are under the supervision of a healthcare professional, it is better to realize some things beforehand.

Hot Yoga is often done in a room heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit. The prescribed way to practice this type of yoga is to push yourself through the poses at your own pace, making sure that your breathing is light and your body is not overheating.

3: Aids Balance

Hot yoga (or Bikram yoga) may seem a little odd, or even dangerous, to people who haven’t tried it, but it offers a strong defense against falls and injuries.

Older people and the chronically ill are most at risk for falls. Between 20 percent and 54 percent of nursing home residents fall each year, and many of these accidents cause injuries and even death. Bikram yoga has proven beneficial in decreasing the number of falls experienced by nursing home residents.

In addition to aiding balance, Bikram yoga also helps with flexibility and strength. An added benefit is the increased coordination it offers. These latter benefits come into play when the body must move quickly to avoid a fall.

Strength entails the body’s ability to support and balance itself. Just like when someone lifts weights, Bikram yoga strengthens muscles and ligaments.

Bikram yoga also teaches breathing exercises delivered via a series of stretches. Controlling the breath and diaphragmatic breathing can help increase oxygen intake and sustain energy.

The rawness of Bikram yoga makes it a great workout because of the intensity and focus required. Some parts of the practice are challenging, even for people who have tried yoga before.

4: Increases Your Fitness Level

Ever heard of Ashtanga? If you have, you will see how different it is from what most fitness enthusiasts usually practice. It’s a sort of combination of yoga and aerobic fitness. Through this practice, you can burn around 500 calories per hour.

Comparing to other types of yoga, this is more like aerobics.

As a result, you’re bound to build lean muscles. So, it’s good even for those who want to build a leaner physique. It may not suit you if you want to build muscles that are massive, but it’s beneficial for those who are working towards building a lean yet fit frame.

5: Good for Your Bones

And Joints It was once believed that practicing yoga could break your bones and damage your joints, but that is a myth. Some poses can cause some soreness in the muscles around your joints. The poses that are most problematic for joints are the ones that pose a threat of injury by reversing the normal range of motion for the joints. There are a number of yoga poses that reduce the risk of injury by decompressing the joints.

Cobblers Pose (Baddha Konasana) can help relieve pain in the hips and knees. It’s commonly used to help alleviate constipation.

Butterfly Pose (Bhastrika Pranayama)is great for lower back pain. It’s also known to improve digestion.

Cat Stretch Pose (Marjaryasana) and Cow Pose (Bitilasana) are helpful in relieving tension in your lower back.

Sphinx PoseSphinx Pose (Salambhasana) is helpful in opening up the shoulder joints and stretching the back muscles, which can relieve a lot of pressure on the joints of the lower spine.

Cow Face Pose (Gomukhasana) is effective in stretching the forearm joints. It can also help improve digestion.

6: Improves Your Breathing

Daily breathing exercises, particularly kapalabhati, help you to control your breaths and manage stress. By learning to control your breathing, you’ll develop greater awareness for the way you allow thoughts to influence your state of mind.

According to Dr. Lee Berk, the author of, The Apex Principle: Achieve More, Worry Less and Live a Happy and Successful Life,” practicing yoga can help you to control your breathing and focus on one thing at a time, therefore, helping you to be more efficient, have better focus, and enjoy greater health.

Berk studied yogis and their brains. He found that yogis not only breathe in a slower, more efficient manner than the average person, but the part of their brains that controls their breathing was also larger than the average person’s.

His research indicates that meditation and breathing exercises can have a significant influence in shaping your very thought processes.

7: Helps with Sleep

In yoga, a class typically ends with relaxation poses called “Savasana,” meaning “corpse.” That name would freak many people out, but the pose does indeed look like a dead body. In Savasana, you lie flat on your back on the yoga mat with your legs extended and arms at your sides. You are asked to consciously relax every single muscle in your body, one by one. The instructor will even tell you to relax your eyes and your tongue.

During the relaxation phase, you get a chance to review your mind and body. You learn to tune into your emotional states. As with any other pose in yoga, Savasana works when you breathe. As you hold this pose or lie in this pose, you should be breathing deeply. You typically breathe in for a few seconds, pause in the inhale, and then exhale for a few seconds.

8: Reduces Stress

Hot yoga can reduce stress by helping you find a balance between your body and mind because your ability to concentrate will improve through breathing and meditation. Your mind and body will be balanced because you’ll be able to control and relax your mind while your body is in motion. You’ll experience less stress, and what’s even more valuable is that you will be able to choose the source of your stress wisely. By doing hot yoga, you’ll also be able to develop a clearer understanding on what causes you stress then be better equipped to act in order to relieve that stress in a healthy way.

For example, if you are lacking sleep, hot yoga can help you get a better and longer sleep, by giving you a space to relax your body throughout the day, reducing your anxiety and allowing your mind to unwind also.

9: Benefits for Depression

Cyclical nature of depression is caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. One part of the brain, the limbic system, is responsible for emotional regulation. During a depressive episode, it is overcome by neurochemicals known as catecholamines (norepinephrine, epinephrine, and dopamine). These chemicals keep the mood-regulating chemicals in the body down.

Studies done by Dr. Josh Axe and Dr. Ben Greenfield show that Hot Yoga can release high amounts of endorphins, serotonin, serotonin binding globulins, GABA, leptin, and melatonin. These studies conclude that it can also increase BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) and dopamine.

Dopamine is responsible for feelings of pleasure, and when deficient, the body can experience depressive symptoms. BDNF is responsible for the growth and repair of brain cells. Decreased levels of BDNF are usually associated with depression.

Another study by the National Center of Complementary and Integrative Health showed that practicing yoga four times a week could drastically improve depressive symptoms. The main takeaway is that through serotonin, endorphins, and BDNF increases, Hot Yoga can help relieve depressive symptoms.

10: Focuses Your Mind

Even though yoga is a form of exercise, it’s different from other kinds in that it also requires you to always use your mind. It’s not just about your body … it’s about your mind, too.

The benefits of hot yoga do not only come from the physical setting but rather from the full sensory stimulation you have while in the gym. It’s an exercise in focus, requiring that your mind stay on the class.

This is very valuable, because all too often we get so distracted and unplugged from technology that we neglect the world in which we live. Hot yoga requires you to be in the present moment without outside distractions while you do it.

Instead of using technology to distract you, you have to focus on the feelings and poses of yoga to keep you in touch with the world you live in physically.

Hot yoga is a way to push your focus to the next level and maintain it.

You’ll also find that when you confront uncomfortable moments in hot yoga, you’ll have the strength and focus to not only get through them, but to also be grateful for them. You’ll be guided into seeing a new perspective.

11: Improvement in Lung Capacity

The breathing during practice is a great form of exercise, called breath of fire, in which the practitioner breathes in quickly and forcefully. This is performed with an open mouth and the inhalation fills the shoulders and chest first. When this is performed correctly, a great deal of extra air is absorbed. Some people may experience light-headedness or dizziness, but this is just because they are breathing so much oxygen that their brain wasn’t accustomed to.

The breathing continues throughout the posture practice and this increases the lung capacity.

Regular yoga practitioners can hold their breath for almost three minutes and this is also attributed to the increased lung capacity.

As the capacity of the lungs increases, the individual continues to breathe deeply and this increases the blood flow to the brain.

12: Assists Healthy Weight Loss

13: Creates Clearer Skin

Hot yoga increases sweat, which results in the skin becoming cleansed, detoxified, and purified. In regular yoga, this effect is achieved during Savasana, the corpse pose. However, hot yoga helps make this process more effective.

26: Increases Flexibility

Improvement of flexibility can be achieved through regular practice of asanas, and hot yoga creates more flexibility since it loosens and stimulates your muscles and joints. This is especially beneficial for people with stiff muscles.

18: Improves Instability of the Mind

Hot yoga keeps the body flexible and strong. This helps develop easier breathing patterns in the body, which translates to a calming effect on the mind.

19: Contains Spiritual Benefits

The spirituality of a person is felt on multiple levels including emotional, mental and physical levels. Hot yoga gives a person an opportunity to observe and control oneself by observing the mind and focusing on breathing.

20: Increases Happiness

Emotional stability in a person helps increase productivity and happiness. Hot yoga is especially helpful in fighting depression, anxiety, and stress.

21: Reduces Body and Neck Pain

Hot yoga helps reduce stress and with it the pain that comes with it. The poses help strengthen the area around the neck and also help to relieve headaches. It also helps people with back pain and the pain brought on by menstruation.

23: Increases Immune System Function

14: Helps to Relieve Back Pain

Yes, hot yoga does come with a few risks, but it still offers numerous health benefits that can transform your life. After suffering from back pain and doing many other types of yoga, hot yoga was what gave me the most relief.

Hot yoga classes are so beneficial for your back because the heated environment eases muscle tension and helps to relax the mind and body. The heat can help to loosen up tight muscles and ligaments, and the poses work to strengthen the muscles in the back, which can further alleviate pain.

Another benefit to hot yoga is that heated yoga classes can help to burn more calories and fat than a regular yoga class. In a regular yoga class, you burn approximately 150 calories per hour, and in a hot yoga class you can burn up to 300 calories per hour. So, hot yoga can help increase your metabolism and give your body more of an opportunity to slim down.

15: Low Impact

Hot yoga is a great alternative for those who want to exercise without putting too much stress on their joints or putting undo pressure on their bodies. Hot yoga uses assisted postures and a gentle approach to help students connect their body with their mind. Be sure to breathe slowly and deeply during each position to help you remain comfortable during each session.

16: Benefits for Menopausal Women

Hot yoga is perfect for women who are dealing with menopause. The heat of the room can help reduce the common symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes and mood swings. The heat and her body's sweat helps relax the muscles and reduce the severity of mood swings. Yoga is also a way to connect with other women who are going through the same things you are.

The heat of the room can also help regulate irregular periods, and keep them flowing rather than stopping and starting. This can help decrease fatigue and feelings of weakness that often come with menopause.

17: Easy to Access

Hot yoga teachers enjoy teaching their practice. Their desire to share their passion for yoga is really what makes hot yoga classes so wonderful.

In hot yoga, students small canvases for a teacher’s attention. When teachers recognize this, they are more willing to spend extra time with you than in another class.

18: Gives You the Buzz of Cardio

Hot yoga is like performing cardio in a sauna. Hotter, deeper stretches loosen the muscles and get your heart rate elevated. Some hot yoga studios have fans that blow on students to bring their heart rates up faster.

The stretch of hot yoga tends to feel like you’re doing a more intense cardio workout than you are, so don’t be surprised if your heart rate monitor says you’ve participated in an hour of cardio when you’ve only been in class for an hour.

5 Must-know Risks of Hot Yoga: Proceed with Caution

As with any exercise, hot yoga is a balancing act between the good and the bad. While the health benefits of hot yoga are numerous, there are also a few risks you should be aware of.

Possible Allergic Reaction to the Heat
Hot yoga in general is a healthful way to introduce some heat, but it’s best to proceed with caution if you have any kind of heart or breathing issues.

Popular misconception is that heat is good for the heart. However, if you’re suffering from a heart condition or if you have poor circulation, then heat is a very bad choice. Heat can cause your blood to pool in your extremities, and if you already have circulation problems, the combination can be deadly. It’s best not to start this type of exercise if you have any risk factors, but if you already experience symptoms from winter that wane in the summer, this type of exercise might just be a healthy fix for you.

1: Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke

Remember how I said you can get overheated? That wouldn’t be a good thing, especially since you’d have to stop class. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are probably the two most common problems that happen at hot yoga, and they can happen to you.

Heat exhaustion is like the milder version of heat stroke. You will sweat too much and feel really tired. You might get confused or disoriented and get sick to your stomach. You might lose consciousness, and your skin can turn yellow or pale and be clammy. ”If you think you’ve got heat exhaustion, then find shade, rest, drink a ton of water, and elevate your feet,” says Benjamin.

Heat stroke, on the other hand, happens with more advanced and extensive dehydration. It’s also hotter, like 104 degrees Fahrenheit hot. ”The person loses consciousness, so you’ll actually need to call 911,” Benjamin says. ”If you’re not sure if you’ve got heat exhaustion or heat stroke, don’t take any chances.” If you suspect you’ve got a problem, find help right away.

2: Dehydration

After an entire 75-minute hot yoga session, you’ll probably walk out of the studio with a glass of water, ready to consume 7 or 8 more. If you don’t, you could end up with dehydration and exhaustion.

Dehydration is the number-one threat for any yoga enthusiast, no matter how many layers of lotion they’re covered in. Sticky studios and heating are the main factors to blame for increased risk of dehydration due to loss of sweat.

Hot yoga can “can” your body’s ability to dole out certain hormones, so it’s best to consult with your doctor before starting a hot yoga practice if you have high blood pressure, heart disease, or a history of stroke.

3: Joint and Muscle Damage

Hot yoga can be hard on your body, and if you push it too far, you’ll need to take time off before you can start again. That’s where health professionals who practice it can make a difference. They can offer to supervise beginners and take care of any injuries they’re likely to suffer.

Hot yoga can help you avoid injuries by providing you with a great stretch. It also prevents what you can’t see by strengthening tendons and improving their flexibility. You’ll feel it, long after the class is over.

If you’re 30 years or older, you might worry that you’ll hurt yourself doing hot yoga. The fact is that hot yoga can help older people more than it can hurt them. That’s because they usually have at least one injury that yoga can treat and prevent.

4: Caution for those with increased risk of Heart Disease

Hot yoga (also called Bikram yoga, after its founder Bikram Choudhury; hatha yoga performed in a heated room) may pose heart risks for people who are at risk of heart disease or suffer from a serious illness. Hot yoga can cause blood pressure to increase. Research has shown that in addition to the increased blood pressure, hot yoga can also lead to irregular heartbeats (Yoga for Back Pain and Headache).

5: Caution for Pregnant Women

Pregnancy is a great time to practice hot yoga. The heat helps to loosen muscles, reduce stress, and restore balance. It’s also a time when yoga can help with an improved mood, fewer aches, and relief from back pain.

However, hot yoga brings unique considerations for pregnant women. First, pregnant women may need to adjust the intensity of the poses. Do not overstretch or hold postures for too long. Second, the room, which is heated to 90-100°F, may feel hotter, so take extra water or take breaks when feeling fatigued.

It’s suggested that pregnant women do not do inverted poses, inversions, poses with chest openers, headstands, poses on your back, and forward bends. If you have an instructor, let them know that you are pregnant and be comfortable with what you do.

Women who are breastfeeding may be able to continue practicing hot yoga throughout pregnancy.