True to its name, hot yoga involves practicing yoga in a hot room. The room temperature typically varies from anywhere between 80 F and 100 F. A popular form of hot yoga is Bikram yoga, which is more particular when it comes to temperatures (105 F with 40% humidity), and it follows a standard series of 26 poses.1
Whether you are practicing Bikram or general hot yoga, the question is if there are benefits compared to practicing yoga at an average temperature. Studies have reiterated that further research into the benefits of hot yoga is required, but a few benefits consistently appear in research and user comments.
Practicing yoga in the heat can improve your range of motion.2 Heat promotes blood flow, relaxes muscles and soft tissue, lessens nerve sensitivities and makes your muscles more elastic, ultimately increasing your range of motion.3 With improved flexibility, you can get an even better stretch.4
The hot environment also creates a higher cardiovascular challenge than regular yoga.5 Research into exercising in the heat has found that it puts an increased strain on your cardiovascular system as it must not only send blood to your exercising muscles but also use energy to control the new heat load.6 One session of Bikram yoga, for example, was found to increase metabolic rates similar to walking at an approximate speed of 3.5mph.7 This training should also give your cardio system an easier time when you switch back to average temperatures.8
Some other bonuses to consider are that hot yoga can potentially increase your lung capacity,9 and a pilot study has even found indications that Bikram yoga practice may help manage blood glucose levels.10
The benefits can be great, but since the added heat does come with certain risks, it is essential to talk to your healthcare provider first if you are pregnant or have any severe underlying health conditions like cardiovascular disease.11 The heat also makes it easier to become dehydrated, so if you attend hot yoga classes, remember to bring a water bottle and keep up your intake post-class.
Hot or not, yoga is a great way to de-stress and decompress physically and mentally. If you are looking for other ways to treat your body well, consider an easy at-home health checkup with imaware’s Men’s or Women’s Health & Wellness Test.
- Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The Effects of Bikram Yoga on Health: Critical Review and Clinical Trial Recommendations. Accessed April 12, 2023.
- International Journal of Exercise Science. Acute Physiologic Effects of Performing Yoga in The Heat on Energy Expenditure, Range of Motion, and Inflammatory Biomarkers. Accessed April 11, 2023.
- Physiopedia. Thermotherapy. Accessed April 12, 2023.
- Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. Bikram yoga training and physical fitness in healthy young adults. Accessed April 12, 2023.
- Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Acute Cardiovascular Responses to a Session of Bikram Yoga: A Pilot Uncontrolled Trial. Accessed April 11, 2023.
- Cleveland Clinic. How Hot Weather Can Affect Your Heart When You Exercise. Accessed April 12, 2023.
- Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. Acute Metabolic, Cardiovascular, And Thermal Responses To A Single Session Of Bikram Yoga. Accessed March 11, 2023.
- Journal of Applied Physiology. Heat acclimation improves exercise performance. Accessed April 11, 2023.
- International Journal of Yoga. A comparative study of the effects of yoga and swimming on pulmonary functions in sedentary subjects. Accessed March 12, 2023.
- Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies. Improvements in glucose tolerance with Bikram Yoga in older obese adults: a pilot study. Accessed March 12, 2023.
- Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic Q and A: Hot yoga for weight loss and overall health. Accessed March 12, 2023.