You probably have one or two friends who’ve been selling hot yoga to you, telling how great that is to sweat, lose weight and improve flexibility, to name a few benefits. But then, you might be sceptical, asking yourself how performing yoga poses in a room of at least 38°C can benefit the body. Well, you’re not the only one who’s confused whether to jump into this “hot” trend or stick with traditional yoga classes they know.
Let’s dig into the real details of hot yoga and its pros and cons so that you can decide whether the workout is for you or not.
It’s true that you can be more flexible when trying hot yoga in sauna-like temperatures of up to 41°C — with the humidity soaring to 60%. The warmth in the room allows muscles to stretch easier than in normal temperatures. With steamy and “sweaty” temperatures, you can increase your motion range, allowing for deeper stretches into each pose. So there, hot yoga actually does make your muscles more pliable, thus improving your flexibility in the process. The hot room temperature can also make you extend further than in a standard, cool yoga studio. And that is even without you knowing!
A hot environment is a challenge — as if working out itself is not a challenge enough. In hot yoga, the heat leads to a faster heart rate, resulting in faster pumping of the heart muscles. Consequently, more blood rushes to the skin to keep you feeling cool. So as the heart intensifies in its functioning, you’re also getting a better workout in the process versus what you’d get in a cooler room.
STRESS REDUCTION AND BETTER BREATHING
Kick the stress out the picture — faster! While traditional yoga already does well in this department, nothing beats a hot room when trying to focus better on our breathing. This focus due to the sweltering environment helps you to relax better and thereby relieve stress.
Yoga in itself is good for improving lung capacity and health as it improves breathing. Okay, we know that now you’re probably thinking that breathing can be harder in a stifling room. But the truth is that you can train your lungs to keep more air because doing deeper breaths. This will help your lungs to expand, giving way for more oxygen to enter your bloodstream and reaching every single cell of the body.
Hot yoga can burn more calories. Just like other exercises and movements that increase the heart rate, eventually burning fat and calories that speed up weight loss, hot yoga is another useful weight loss tool. Studies show that it burns calories faster, that too, without involving any running or rapid movements.
The temperature in a hot yoga studio alone is enough to burn calories. Did you know that you can burn at least 333 calories doing hot yoga? Try Vinyasa yoga to feel that intense burn.
WHY HOT YOGA ISN’T FOR EVERYONE — THE DOWNSIDES
Hot yoga isn’t an all-good workout despite all these pros. If you plan to try it, you should be ready to face some of its cons as well:
Your blood pressure may drop, making you feel nauseated and dizzy while doing hot yoga. There are many who have fainted in a yoga class due to the exhaustion. This is one of the realities associated with sweaty yoga workouts.
To prevent this from happening: Listen to your body; how you are feeling after the first few minutes, especially if you’re new to hot yoga. Are you feeling drowsy or lightheaded? Or still stable and fit? Even if you’re feeling great and excited about the new exercise, do not ignore your body signs. Listen to them carefully.
The drawback of dehydration is another possibility, although it does not happen to everyone. The tendency to become dehydrated is high because of the large amounts of sweat produced. The body loses water very quickly in this process.
So before beginning the workout, you need to drink plenty of water and keep yourself hydrated during the class in order to replenish lost fluid.
Also, take note that the hot temperatures can lead to throwing up, cramping and fainting. Hydration prevents such issues.
As a tip, you might want to load up on fluids, especially those high in electrolytes, until the day before a class. And for proper digestion, you should allow a gap of at least two hours between a meal and the class.
You might overdo and push yourself too hard in the workout due to the increased muscle flexibility, but you really shouldn’t. While you’re not actually feeling the tiredness during the class, you would later in the day. Do not push too hard when stretching for any pose — or you may suffer from injury.
NOT FOR EVERYBODY
Hot yoga is not for people who have a heart condition or are pregnant. If you belong to these categories, you must go and find another exercise, perhaps something like yoga for beginners in a cool studio room.
Also, it is very important to talk to your doctor before engaging in any exercise for your safety. If you’re feeling uncomfortable exercising in a hot and humid room, you should not try hot yoga, regardless of the encouragement from friends.
Hot yoga can burn more calories due to increased metabolism and heart rate. It can also improve flexibility, muscle tone and relieve stress. But while this form of exercise can make you feel better and healthier, it isn’t free from any drawbacks like potential injuries, exhaustion and dehydration.
To prevent any such issues, don’t engage in hot yoga or any workout for that matter, without consulting your GP, especially if you have a medical condition. And when given the go signal, don’t ignore, but listen to your body. Stop when feeling dizzy or nauseated or if you’re feeling something’s quite not right with your body.