Yoga Musings

Hot Yoga

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.


20 thoughts on “Hot Yoga

  1. it’s hot and humid right now in delhi, india and i’m wondering what sequence i should be doing , the weather is so draining. i guess i’m not cut out for bikram yoga although i’ve never tried it either !

  2. What is best for one, may not be best for another. I agree that we each need to find what works best for ourselves. And even what is best today may not be best tomorrow. Find what works for you, whether it be ashtanga, kundalini, vinyasa flow, etc. The idea is to keep an open mind and not have judgement of ourselves or others. Also, not all hot yoga is the same. I practice hot yoga at Yoga Tropics, a local studio in Encinitas, CA. I have been practicing approximately 5 days a week for the past 4 months. I’ve never felt better. My mind is clear, I have a lot of energy, and physically I feel amazing. It works for me!

  3. I tried hot yoga for the first time today and it wasn’t a very good experience for me. It was also the first time I had ever done yoga and I started feeling dizzy and light headed about halfway through the session. My hands and feet started to become tingly so i decided to leave the room and was scolded for leaving. I do not think the instructor was very good about checking on me being that it was my first time, and don’t see how staying in the room would have been good for me given how i was feeling.

    • I think you right to leave the room. I did hear that the sudden shift from hot to cooler might exacerbate your body’s reaction the the heat, but… I just tried out bikram, and if I hadn’t been practicing for some time before hand, I see how it easily could’ve gone badly. I’m not convinced that sweating that much is good for you. I’ve done it 3 times, and have ended up feeling pretty drained each time. This seems to much like a trend to me. I think it’s better to practice at your own pace at a temp that is comfortable for you.

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