Hot yoga is becoming all the rage in the yoga community. Yogis everywhere have been craving the heat and humidity that give hot yoga its name. Despite the various benefits, there are some downsides that people should be aware of before stepping into the toasty studio.
But before we get into the advantages and disadvantages, what is hot yoga exactly? Hot yoga is a form of yoga that is practiced in a studio that is typically set at 105 degrees Fahrenheit and 40% humidity. The sessions are usually 90 minutes long in which practitioners do up to 26 different poses.
Hot yoga can be good for the skin
Thanks to the blistering temperatures, hot yoga practitioners sweat profusely during sessions. Sweat carries natural antibiotics that kill bacteria on the skin. Specifically, sweat carries dermcidin which helps get rid of impurities in the skin. Sweat after a good workout also has anti-aging properties.
Hot yoga improves cardiovascular health and air flow
Hot yoga is practiced in high temperatures that give your body a cardiovascular kick, allowing for increased blood flow and more air coming in and out of the lungs. Additionally, practitioners are constantly moving in a hot yoga session not only allowing yogis to challenge themselves physically but also improve their cardiovascular endurance. Director and instructor at Hot Yoga Capitol Hill, Laura Atella said, “atoms move faster, liquid moves faster, everything moves a little faster when you have that added component of heat. It can be helpful to improve the functioning of some of the systems in your body.”
Hot yoga allows for deeper stretches
Muscles generally become more loose in hot yoga because of the heat and humidity. Normal yoga is practiced at room temperature which prevents muscles from becoming as loose and relaxed as they are in hot yoga sessions. Cold muscles are tighter and can even lead to muscle damage and cramping. The heat, however, gets the blood flowing throughout the body allowing for yogis to sink deeper into the stretch in each pose. Practitioners will greatly benefit from increased flexibility.
And of course, as with all forms of yoga, hot yoga provides people with an outlet for de-stressing and has been proven to ease symptoms of depression. Senior Physiology and Neurobiology major and French minor Ashley Nwafor said that hot yoga seems like a great way to to move your body while becoming more in tune with yourself.
Although there are many benefits one can experience while practicing hot yoga, there are some downsides that one should consider before stepping into the yoga edition of a hot box.
Hot yoga can be dehydrating
Though the heat is the source of the many benefits to hot yoga, it is also the source of the disadvantages. Hot yoga requires constant motion for 90 minutes in hot, humid conditions, so it is imperative to be well hydrated beforehand. Atella said that those that exercised before a hot yoga session can also experience severe symptoms of dehydration.
Hot yoga can lead to dizziness and nausea
Again, the heat. The high temperatures and humidity levels paired with constantly moving through different poses often leads to dizziness and nausea. Yoga involves moving the head below the heart and doing poses that feel unnatural to the body. This, plus the heat, can cause severe dizziness and nausea. When this happens, take a little breather before taking another class. Freshman Mechanical Engineering major Yesha Shukla said, “I remember I took a hot yoga class once and my head started spinning. I think I was dehydrated and the heat made it worse.”
People of certain conditions cannot practice hot yoga
Hot yoga can be limited in terms of who can participate due to the intense heat it is practiced in. For instance, pregnant people are discouraged from doing hot yoga as high internal temperatures can hurt the fetus. Those that have thermoregulation issues are also advised to stay away from hot yoga. Atella said, “Little kids can get high fevers because their systems aren’t mature enough to regulate at certain temperatures.” Much older people may also have issues with managing heat within their body and should be cautious before partaking in hot yoga.
The same component that provides all the benefits of hot yoga can also lead to the most consequences. Hot yoga can do wonders for the body but it is important to listen to what your body wants and needs before starting any rigorous exercise.