While you may generally want to avoid extreme heat, you may want to make an exception for hot yoga, an activity that has the potential to promote overall body fitness, improve flexibility, and enhance musculoskeletal health and overall well-being.
What Is Hot Yoga?
Hot yoga is performed in hot and humid conditions (100 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit with humidity levels around 40 to 50 percent). These temperatures, when combined with slow, steady movement, result in excessive sweating of the body.
Is Hot Yoga Healthy?
“There’s growing research that suggests yoga can improve overall wellness,” says family medicine and orthopedics and sports medicine doctor April Barnum. “It can enhance strength and flexibility, improve sleep, help you manage stress, and even boost your heart health.”
Hot yoga has been found to be incredibly beneficial to your health, promoting several key advantages, including:
Increased flexibility, which also helps prevent injuries.
Healthy sweating. More often than not, sweating is viewed as an embarrassing occurrence. Sweating in a warm environment, however, is one of the main objectives of hot yoga. It can improve circulation, bringing oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood to skin cells.
Improved blood flow. Heat actually improves blood circulation in the body. This flow of blood through the body makes muscles more pliable.
Hot Yoga Tips
Before entering the yoga studio, it's helpful to keep a few things in mind.
- Hydrate. Hydrating before a hot yoga session properly prepares your body for excessive sweating. Naturally, you'll want to hydrate during and after the session as well. Drink anywhere from 8-10 glasses of water on the days you perform hot yoga.
- Get comfy. This isn't a fashion show, so dress comfortably. Wearing light and stretchy clothing will enhance comfortability.
- Remember to breathe. Engaging in proper breathing will decrease the risk of fainting or periods of lightheadedness. Remember to take deep and regular breaths often.
- Eat right. Be sure to eat healthy food a couple hours before a session to store up energy. If you ingest large amounts of food just before, the heat and strenuous poses can bring about nausea and discomfort.
- Ask for help. If you have a history of any musculoskeletal conditions, don’t be afraid to ask the yoga instructor to help you modify some of the yoga poses.
Can Anyone Participate in Hot Yoga?
While hot yoga benefits many, the practice poses potential problems to those:
- With a history of heart disease
- Who can't handle extreme levels of heat
- Who are easily dehydrated
- Who are highly susceptible to heatstroke
Consult your doctor if you fit into any of the above groups and want to try hot yoga.
It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor or health care provider before starting a new exercise regimen.