If you’re like most people, you’ve probably heard of Hot Yoga, but don’t know much about it. The funny thing is, the term is pretty self explanatory.
Hot Yoga, also known as Bikram yoga, basically consists of performing yoga poses in a super heated space (105 degrees F). The poses are forceful, and the contractions (which are well controlled) involve all major muscle groups. It’s certainly not an exercise regimen for the faint of heart, and there are some risks associated with the practice. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of this increasingly popular yoga practice.
Benefits of Hot Yoga
According to practitioners of Bikram yoga, there are some major benefits involved with this form of exercise. In addition to the increased flexibility and strength, you also get a good detox during the process. The heat causes you to sweat more than you would during a normal yoga session, removing additional toxins from your body.
Another benefit is the amount of weight you could potentially lose. A single 90 minute session could burn up to 1,100 calories. Pair this with a healthy diet, and you could achieve your weight loss goals much sooner than expected. Some of the other perks of Hot Yoga include:
- Enhanced mental concentration and clarity
- Improved skin appearance
- Reduced back pain
Risks of Hot Yoga
Now, with all of the benefits that accompany practicing hot yoga, there are some risks involved as well. First off, this is definitely not for everyone. People with a history of heart failure or high blood pressure should not be anywhere near a Bikram yoga studio. Pregnant women should also stay away from hot yoga because the extreme temperatures are dangerous for the baby.
Healthcare professionals warn that exercising in such intense heat and humidity can cause stress on the cardiovascular system. In addition, the following risks have been associated with this practice:
- Muscle Cramping
- Hyponatremia (low sodium levels,which could cause seizures)
Hot Yoga vs Regular Yoga
If you look at the benefits of practicing regular yoga, there’s not much of a difference when compared to hot yoga. Both practitioners and students of traditional yoga experience:
- Increased flexibility
- Weight Loss
- Increased strength and muscle tone
- Improved posture
- Increased blood flow
- Reduced back pain
Traditional and hot yoga share of the same benefits. The difference primarily lies in the amount of time that these results are achieved. People looking to intensify or speed up their results typically turn to hot yoga. This doesn’t necessarily make it better, and there aren’t many studies in the scientific community to support or deny the benefits of this practice. The current research that is available comes primarily from the practitioners and students who support it.
Hot yoga has benefits, but it’s not “better” than the traditional version. It’s a potentially risky way to get quick results that you can ultimately gain from practicing regular yoga, and it’s not an exercise that anyone can participate in.
If you’re healthy enough to attempt hot yoga (and you should absolutely consult a physician) then proceed with caution and always listen to your body. If you feel lightheaded or on the verge of passing out, stop immediately and take care of yourself.
Practitioners suggest that you come to class well hydrated, and bring water with you to have during class. Also, you should eat your last meal at least two hours prior to the start of class, and try to make that a light meal.