I’ve been teaching lately at a studio where “hot yoga” is all the craze. And it’s not just here, but all over the country that heated yoga classes are taking off in popularity. Basically, hot yoga is any flow or Bikram style yoga class where the practice room is heated well above normal room temperature; frequently humidity is added as well. The temperatures can get over 100 degrees in a hot yoga class, and you can be pretty certain that you’ll sweat buckets. But is hot yoga really good for you? Is it safe and/or beneficial to be doing yoga at such extreme temperatures? What’s the point?
I’m going to try to articulate two opposing views here, allowing readers to make the final judgment for themselves. (Personally, I like to practice and teach in a hot yoga environment from time to time, but I do think it’s possible to go overboard with the artificial heat/humidity.)
Pro Hot Yoga: Some people love hot yoga because it warms up their bodies quickly, and they claim this helps them to get deeper into poses. This is especially wonderful in the wintertime, when the cold and dry air makes it difficult to build internal body heat. Also, the excessive sweating in a hot yoga class is good, arguably, for getting all those toxins out. After leaving a hot yoga class, you feel like you’ve just run a ten mile sprint in the middle of a sweltering summer day, and the feeling of blissed-out exhaustion is a high like no other.
No Hot Yoga: A lot of yoga purists refuse to do hot yoga because they think it’s a scam. The excessive heat, they say, makes you sweat like crazy and tricks you into thinking you’re working much harder than you actually are. Heating the practice room to the upper 70s or low 80s is fine, but blasting the heat into the 90s or above is actually counterproductive. At such high temperatures, our bodies become slow and athletically inefficient. In fact, you might even be hurting your body by doing yoga in extreme heat.
- Book Review: HELL-BENT by Benjamin Lorr (yogaisforlovers.wordpress.com)