When it comes to hot yoga, you probably have a few questions. What is it actually? Will you pass out from the temperature? What are the advantages and the dangers? And how does it compare to a standard hatha or ashtanga practice? Well, don’t worry.
Here, WH Fitness Editor and yoga teacher, Bridie Wilkins, gives you the lowdown, including the best hot yoga studios and classes to try in the UK.
What is Hot Yoga?
The idea of practicing yoga in a heated room (temperatures range from 32 to 40 degrees Celsius) began with Bikram Choudhury, who, thanks to sexual harassment and rape charges, as well as a warrant for his arrest in the United States, is now disgraced and living in Mexico. Although Bikram’s name has been tainted, people are still practicing in the western world, with other franchises – working on a similar “hot” premise.
Interestingly, it is said to have never been designed to induce profuse sweating or an elevated heart rate. Even in India, it is practiced during the cooler times of the day; in the morning, before the sun rises, or in the evening, when it sets.
While most hot yoga classes include a mix of sequences, Bikram classes include the same 26 defined postures (or asanas in Sanskrit), which are usually performed twice.
What is the point of hot yoga?
It increases flexibility (although not entirely positive – see negatives below), tones the body, increases lung capacity and improves cardio health.
“Heat can ease joint stiffness, increase blood circulation, boost the immune system and release endorphins, which have been shown to relieve pain,” says Genny Wilkinson-Priest, yoga manager at triyoga‘. “It’s not only safe, it’s curative.”
It also has mental advantages; not only do you get the usual exercise-related endorphin rush, but the intensity of the workout means you have to focus on the breath and it can be a surprisingly mindful activity.
How hot is hot yoga?
Temperatures fluctuate between 37 and 40 degrees Celsius, depending on the studio, and intense humidity. It’s about the same temperature as a good bath, but you’re not expected to do an hour of yoga in a bath, so the reality is a lot of sweating.
What to wear for hot yoga?
Wear what you are comfortable in; vest and shorts, jersey and tracksuit bottoms, full wetsuit. Just be prepared for the heat (so the more bare skin you have to cool off the better) and bring something to change into afterwards – whether you plan to shower or not – because nothing brings a cold like stepping out of a hot yoga class, wearing wet workout clothes, in winter climates.
How many calories are burned during hot yoga?
Much of the hype around hot yoga centers around the huge potential for weight loss – and it may be justified. A 90-minute slow class is said to burn 333 calories, but faster flows can burn up to 930. Although the statistics are controversial; Bikram College Yoga studies found that it only burns about 500 calories. So can you lose weight with hot yoga? Yes… as with any exercise.
What are the disadvantages of hot yoga?
- As the muscles are warmed up artificially, it is said to make injury – often due to overstretching – more likely.
- As lessons often involve fast-paced flows in large groups in darkened rooms, the teacher is not always able to correct mistakes that can lead to problems; immediately or over time.
- Although safe for most people, due to extreme heat it can lead to exhaustion or dehydration, with an American Council on Exercise (ACE) showing that practitioners’ body temperature reaches levels almost dangerous.
Just make sure you drink plenty of water before, during and after class, and take a TO if you start feeling unwell. Also, do not practice if you suffer from heart or cardiovascular disease, if you are pregnant, if you are over 60 or under 16. In fact, it is best to consult a doctor before starting.
Is hot yoga better than other types of yoga?
Short answer: no. Long answer: It depends on what you want to get out of a practice. If calorie burning is your priority, then hot is more effective, but yoga in unheated rooms has more longevity simply because it’s less intense – but you get the same physical benefits and, arguably, more aware.
The Best Hot Yoga Studios
1. Yoga of the Breeze
Studio locations: Beckenham, windyoga.co.uk
Class price: £50 for 20 days of unlimited lessons, or £20 for one lesson, packages available
Breeze aims to make hot yoga accessible to everyone – it offers a wide range of classes depending on how often you practice (or not at all), and each teacher is the one who makes you feel like their best friend. As for the hot studio itself, it’s heated between 36 and 42 degrees Celsius, so be prepared to sweat some serious sweat. And don’t forget to bring a towel.
Studio locations: Camden, Shoreditch, Soho, Ealing, Chelsea, triyoga.fr
Class price: £17 for one course, £12 each when purchased in packs of 20
W.H. bet you can’t name a more iconic London yoga studio brand. But triyoga lives up to expectations for good reason: the studio has it all. From morning self-practice of Mysore-style Ashtanga yoga to one of the most diverse rosters of teachers, this is where dedicated yogis flock to practice.
That’s why some teachers here have achieved rockstar status – so you’ll need to book your lessons quickly.
3. Fierce Grace
Studio locations: Primrose Hill, Camden, Brixton, Kilburn, Muswell Hill, Finchley, Old Street, fiercegrace.com
Class price: £10-17 for walk-ins; £30 introductory offer for unlimited classes
Fierce Grace bills itself as a revolutionary yoga class in London that is suitable for all ages.
Founder Michelle Pernetta thinks her yoga brand is that antithesis of Instagram-perfect yoga culture, which is good because by the end of the Bikram-inspired class, you’re guaranteed to be a red, sweaty mess.
Between the warmth and the intensity of the teacher’s performance, the effect is almost hypnotic and delivers the most relaxing savasana. The studios cater to all levels; talk to someone on the classroom desk who will best meet your needs.
4. Hotpod Yoga
Studio locations: Dulwich, Belgravia, South Wimbledon, Brixton, Notting Hill and Hackney, hotpodyoga.com
Class price: £14 per lesson
Hotpod Yoga is exactly as it sounds… Hot. Be sure to fill your water bottle and take a yoga towel as it will sweat in the inflatable igloo.
Try one of their many flows that target the mind and body. focusing on deep stretches and basic poses. You’ll hurt in all the right places after one of their 45 or 60 minute sessions.
5. Yogarise (formerly Yotopia)
Location of the workshop: Covent Garden, yogarise.london
Class price: £17 for 1 lesson or 20 days for £35
Yogarise (formerly Yotopia) is a yoga studio designed for yogi studios. Choose from warm or unheated studios to work out in, and a wide range of classes that push your own stretching skills.
You even have the ability to work on inversions and headstands, if you’re at that level of training.
Not into the advanced stuff? Kick off beginner style and stay true to your Warrior II. Tip: take your own towels to avoid an extra charge.
6. Yoga Haven
Location of the workshop: Clapham, Richmond, Birmingham, Solihull, East Croydon yogahaven.co.uk
Class price: £11 per lesson
Yogahaven classes focus on a unique style of hot yoga called “leela” which means “play” in Sanskrit. The principle is a fusion of ‘magic’ and ‘fun’ that leaves you both invigorated and relaxed – the temperature in the studio is set at 36 degrees, the optimum to allow your muscles to stretch deeper, stimulate circulation and stimulate the release of serotonin. Guaranteed shine.
7. Hot Spot Yoga
Location of the workshop: Parson Green, thehotspotyoga.co.uk
Class price: £20 per lesson
The Hot Spot Yoga studio is tucked away in a picturesque corner of Parsons Green, setting the stage for what’s inside. Expect your hot yoga classes to be candlelit in the evening, or opt for their signature ‘yin + tonic’ class – during which essential oils are released to awaken your senses, and you’ll end with a mindful meditation. indulgent aromatherapy. Cloud nine is waiting for you.
8. Yoga is hot
Location of the workshop: Edinburgh, yogasgothot.com/
Class price: £30 introductory offer for 3 lessons
It’s only natural that hot yoga seems daunting for beginners, so Yoga’s Got Hot in Edinburgh offers ‘hot’ yoga as well as the traditional hot style. For the former, the studio is heated to a comfortable 26 degrees – just enough to encourage deeper stretching, while there’s also the option to tackle a warm 32 degree stream. Whichever you choose, rest assured that you’re in good hands – hands that will do everything possible to make sure you’re completely comfortable.
9. Ocean Flow Yoga
Location of the workshop: Newquay, Cornwall, oceanflowyoga.fr
Class price: £10 per lesson, or £45 for 5 lessons
The masterminds behind Ocean Flow Yoga have thought of everything – from reopening after lockdown, they installed a new air filtration unit, mood lighting, infrared heaters, hygienic flooring and humidity control. Each hot yoga class is 60 minutes long and you’ll work through Bikram’s classic series of 26 poses to activate every muscle, gland and system in your body that promotes healing.
For advanced practitioners, there is also the option of attending the studio’s Silent Hot course – exactly the same format, without any discussion. Your teacher will start a class with “go” and simply note “change” when you need to move on to the next pose. Highly recommended for anyone familiar with the practice who needs to work on connecting to their breath.
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