Hot Yoga: Benefits, Safety and More

Hot yoga refers to different styles of yoga that take place in warm, heated studios for a more intense workout. Similar to traditional yoga, hot yoga offers a range of benefits for mental and physical health, flexibility and general well-being.

The original purpose of hot temperature and humidity in hot yoga was to replicate the hot temperature in India, where traditional yoga may have originated. the yogapositions themselves may or may not be physically demanding.

This article discusses hot yoga, its benefits, risks, safety considerations, and more.

Many people use “hot” and “Bikram” interchangeably. However, while all Bikram is hot, not all hot yoga is Bikram.

Hot yoga is more intense yoga practiced in a heated room above normal room temperature. Its temperature can vary between 80–100°F (26.6–37.7°C).

People practice Bikram yoga in a bedroom 105°F (40.5°C) with 40% humidity. It consists of 26 poses and a sequence of two breathing exercises.

However, many studios now call it a hot yoga studio and dropped the Bikram name due to the founder’s bad press.

Hot yoga uses the concept of heat and effort to Release toxins through sweat. It is less strict with heat and humidity. The postures – asanas – and the sequence may vary from class to class, depending on the preparations of the yoga instructor.

People trained in other styles can also facilitate hot yoga. Bikram trained teachers can only practice Bikram yoga.

Other types

Bikram is just one of many styles of yoga using hot yoga. Other types include:

  • Vinyasa yoga
  • Moksha yoga or Modo yoga
  • Yoga Core Power
  • forest yoga
  • hot yoga bar
  • hot yin yoga
  • hot power yoga
  • Hot Fusion Yoga

There are also variations in temperature, and some people may also prefer hot yoga, which takes place in a slightly heated room between 80–85°F (26.6.–29.4°C).

Below are several benefits of hot yoga, which are generally similar to the benefits of traditional yoga.

Improves flexibility

The heat dilates the blood vessels, which improves blood flow to the muscles. The moist heat of hot yoga “warms up” and relaxes the muscles, similar to warming up and active stretching.

A Pilot study 2019 found sauna yoga at 122°F (50°C) resulted in significant improvements in flexibility in healthy older adults and small improvements in strength and balance.

Many movements found in various forms of yoga are active stretches. Active stretching increases flexibility and strengthens the muscles.

Builds strength

Many yoga poses aim to build strength. A person can hold the pose for at least 60 seconds to get into muscle strength.

Here are examples of yoga poses:

  • high plank
  • Dolphin
  • Chair
  • Boat
  • side plank

Read on for other yoga exercises.

Yoga uses a person’s body weight as a form of resistance while holding poses. Depending on the pose, hot yoga can target both upper and lower body strength.

2015 research shows that Bikram yoga can improve lower body strength, lower and upper body range of motion, and balance in adults.

Strengthens the bones

Besides bone strength, supporting body weight while holding a pose can help improve bone mineral density.

A 2014 study found that Bikram yoga can preserve and potentially increase bone mineral density in premenopausal women. This makes it an effective measure to prevent osteoporosis.

Burn more calories

The heat and extended length of time a person holds difficult poses can help people burn more calories in hot yoga than in traditional yoga.

A study 2020 comparing traditional yoga with hot yoga found that hot yoga improved fat metabolism.

This research also suggested that it can improve the range of motion of the four main joints: elbow, shoulder, hip and knee.

Reduces stress

Yoga, in general, can help reduce stress levels. A small study from 2016 found that Bikram yoga reduced anxiety and that the reduction was directly related to perceived stress.

A study 2018 also found a 16-week Bikram yoga program for stressed people who lead sedentary lifestyles, improved their:

  • self-efficacy
  • perceived stress
  • health-related quality of life

Supports cardiovascular health

The high temperature of hot yoga can make it more intense than a traditional yoga class. It makes the heart, muscles and lungs work harder and stimulates the metabolism.

According to a 2018 study, hot yoga may be an effective heat stress technique to improve plasma volume and cardiovascular performance in elite female field hockey players. This makes hot yoga a possible performance enhancer for athletes before entering competitions.

Improves skin quality

Sweating can improve blood circulation, which helps deliver nutrients to skin cells.

A Japanese study 2021 found that hot yoga activates sirtuin family genes by improving blood circulation, which can counteract the signs of skin aging.

Improves mental health

People see yoga as an effective way to relax and improve their mental health.

the American Psychological Association recognizes this type of exercise as an effective way to reduce depressive symptoms.

A 2020 review also found that yoga can be a good intervention for reducing depression and anxiety in children and adolescents.

According to a study 2019Bikram yoga improved physical functioning, mental health, and heart rate variability in people traumatized by persistent pain.

Hot yoga is generally safe. However, as with any exercise, there are safety considerations with hot yoga.

Muscles can relax too much, which can lead to overstretching and injury, especially to tendons and ligaments.

Hot yoga can also cause heat-related illnesses. People should consult their doctor before performing this type of yoga if they have any of the following conditions:

It can also cause profuse sweating, which can lead to dehydration. A person should drink water or electrolytes before, during, and after a hot yoga workout.

Certain conditions can make a person prone to fainting in a hot room and should proceed with caution when trying hot yoga:

Pregnant people should also speak with their healthcare professionals first before trying hot yoga.

A research study 2020 sponsored by the American Council of Exercise said hot yoga may be safe for pregnant women with uncomplicated pregnancies.

However, further evidence suggests that practicing hot yoga during pregnancy carries an increased risk of neural tube defects and possibly other malformations in fetuses exposed to excessive heat.

A person considering trying hot yoga should consider the following:

  • Adapted clothing: Choose lightweight, moisture-wicking fabrics rather than cotton garments. Cotton absorbs moisture, making clothes heavier and harder to shift.
  • Other materials: Special gloves and socks can add grip during yoga, as sweat makes things slippery. Placing a towel on a yoga mat can help absorb excess sweat and can make the mat slippery.
  • type of heating: There are different methods of heating a studio. Most modern studios use infrared heating, which heats people and the environment instead of the air. Others use forced air heating or baseboards to heat the air in the studio.
  • Type of course: Hot yoga classes vary in length, style of yoga, and the temperature with which they heat up their classes. It is ideal for a beginner to try studios that offer classes at lower temperatures before trying more intensely heated types.

People who want to try yoga at home can invest in infrared heaters or heaters and humidifiers. It is important to choose a small room to better regulate the heat.

Individuals can also find local hot yoga classes or check online directories such as the studio directory of the Original Hot Yoga Association.

The only difference between regular yoga and hot yoga in terms of riding is the temperature. Traditional or regular yoga is practiced at room temperature — 68–72°F (20–22.2°C) — while hot yoga is above normal room temperature.

Hot yoga can be more intense in that it can work the body harder and carries more risk than regular yoga for people with certain medical conditions.

Heat can help people stretch deeper when performing yoga poses, but there is an increased risk of injury.

Hot yoga and Pilates are low impact workouts that use body weight as resistance. Both focus on proper breathing and form and have the same goals in mind.

However, yoga has deep spiritual roots, while Pilates is a mind-body exercise that focuses on core strength and flexibility. Additionally, Pilates may use specialized equipment.

Similar to traditional yoga, Pilates is usually practiced at room temperature.

Hot yoga may provide a range of health benefits and has no reported adverse effects when practiced long term.

While some speculate that exercising in hot environments negatively affects the kidneys, one Long-term study 2022 countered that. The research did not find a statistically significant change in kidney function between non-hot yoga and hot yoga participants. However, more studies are needed to determine the long-term effects of hot yoga on the kidneys.

As with any exercise, a person new to hot yoga should take it gradually. They can do this by starting once a week, finding classes with milder temperatures, shorter sessions, or with instructors that allow people to rest halfway through if they need to.

Hot yoga is a popular variation of traditional yoga. A person who loves traditional yoga can explore and add intensity to their fitness routine by trying hot yoga.

However, hot yoga is not for everyone. Pregnant people and people with certain health conditions should consult their doctor before trying this intense routine.