London,UK Posted 1 month, 1 week ago
Hot Yoga: Benefits & Risks
Doing yoga in a hot room might not seem like a fun activity, but the benefits of hot yoga definitely make it worthwhile (and you’ll probably enjoy it just as much too!). Sure, you’ll be sweating a bit more but this has its own advantages for the body, and you’ll also be building on some of the fundamental principles of yoga as well.
Hot yoga isn’t just about improving your flexibility and meditating; here at OriGym, we’ve put together this guide on all of the hot yoga benefits and risks so you can figure out if this practice is for you!
We’ll cover the following topics:
- Hot Yoga Risks
- Hot Yoga...Does It Work?
Before you read on, head over to our personal training courses page to find and get started on the perfect fitness course for you! We’ve even got more advanced qualifications, like the level 4 advanced sports nutrition, which will set you far apart from your competition.
Don’t forget to download your own OriGym course prospectus!
What is Hot Yoga?
Hot yoga is just that - yoga done in a heated environment!
Typically, it means yoga performed in a studio or room heated to about 35֯ degrees. However, different styles and studios can be warmer or cooler than this. It all depends on your preferences, and the style of hot yoga you are trying!
Hot yoga can maybe seem a bit intimidating to a beginner, or even someone who has been doing regular yoga for a while, but it’s a fun and easy activity with so many health benefits. Since its arrival into the world of exercise in the 1970s hot yoga has exploded in popularity; a testament to its effectiveness and fun factor.
There’s a plethora of different styles and forms of hot yoga to choose from, all with varying techniques and theories.
In fact, there are at least 24 different styles of yoga that you can practice!
You can follow one of these established styles to ease you in, but if you’re feeling confident you can make your own routine and get started with any asana (yoga pose) you choose! Just don’t forget to bring a water bottle, as hydration is key when doing hot yoga.
Most yoga studios and many gyms now run hot yoga classes, and doing it as part of a group with a good instructor is a good way to get started.
Hot yoga can be done alone at home but is usually done in groups, in specially heated rooms or studios. It’s a great social activity!
The benefits of hot yoga go way beyond making new friends, however. It can increase flexibility, burn calories, reduce stress, and much, much more! But we will go into the specific hot yoga benefits in more depth later - for now, sit back, or adopt a comfortable asana for reading, and learn more about hot yoga!
Download OriGym's FREE 45-minute Yoga workout!
The Different Types of Hot Yoga
Hot Yoga refers to any style of yoga done in a heated environment, but there are specific styles of hot yoga that can be practised. Check out each of the ones we’ve described below as they all offer a standardised set of poses and offer varying guidance, so find the best one for you if you want to start hot yoga.
Yoga can be daunting at times, especially with its myriad of poses, yoga symbols, and variations. By following one of these styles, you should have a comprehensive, and streamlined introduction to hot yoga!
Before we answer the question “what are the health benefits of hot yoga?” let’s have a look at some of the most common styles.
Bikram Yoga is the original and arguably the most widespread form of hot yoga.
It began in the 1970s when a yoga instructor in Japan began hosting yoga sessions in a sauna, to replicate the heat of India!
Bikram yoga is highly structured as there is a set sequence of 26 poses that are performed in the same order, every session. Bikram Yoga includes 24 asanas (or poses) and 2 breathing exercises, and there is no transition movement between the different poses. Bikram Yoga can only be taught by a qualified Bikram Instructor.
You can find out how to become a Bikram yoga instructor from OriGym’s guide!
The studio is heated to exactly 40֯ degrees, ideally with high humidity. The setting of Bikram Yoga is very important: a mirror wall is a necessary feature to allow participants to view and correct their postures.
Bikram yoga is slightly less relaxed than other forms, as its rules and setting are so specific. However, it will provide a really engaging introduction to hot yoga: if you feel like you weren’t experienced before doing Bikram, I’m sure you’ll come out of your first session feeling like an expert!
It’s a great way to learn about hot yoga from experienced, knowledgeable instructors. Bikram yoga is a really established and respected form of hot yoga.
The benefits of Bikram hot yoga don’t stop with simply educating you about hot yoga, however. This yoga style has many health benefits! The hot Bikram yoga benefits include ridding the body of toxins, increasing flexibility, improving lower body strength, and boosting overall balance.
Plus, the relative intensity of Bikram Yoga means it makes for a surprisingly effective cardiovascular workout. Another one of the specific benefits of Bikram hot yoga is it improves focus due to its highly structured nature!
Moksha yoga is a slightly more recent form of hot yoga: it was formulated in 2004 by the Canadian yoga instructor, Ted Grand. It is also sometimes known as “Modo” yoga.
It shares some similarities with Bikram yoga, whilst being distinct and unique. Moksha yoga really emphasises a holistic approach; not only does it have physical health benefits, but also mental health benefits, as well as promoting social aspects like environmentalism and the community.
As such, Moksha hot yoga sessions are often offered at a discounted rate to promote yoga for everyone!
Moksha hot yoga is similar to the Bikram form in that there is a set schedule of poses every session, however, unlike Bikram, the schedule is decided by the individual instructor. There are usually around 45 poses every session, usually lasting around 90 minutes.
Moksha is an adaptable set of yoga positions and this flexibility is reflected in the positions themselves!
This practice has more of a focus on building strength and flexibility. Every session of moksha yoga begins and ends with the savasana pose, which emphasises relaxation and calm.
As you can imagine, the benefits of Moksha hot yoga aren’t limited to the physical side of things. Moksha yoga really promotes relaxation and mindfulness as just as important as any other health benefits.
The physical health benefits are still a massive aspect of moksha yoga, however, as flexibility and strength are really improved through sessions, as well as improving cardiovascular health and even improving bone density!
For some more tips on how to improve your flexibility take a look at our article!
Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga
A bit of a mouthful to be sure, but this form of hot yoga is a relaxed, fun way to get involved!
Named after its founder, Baron Baptiste, this form of hot yoga takes place in a slightly cooler studio than some other forms, with the ideal temperature being 32-35֯ degrees. Don’t worry though, this is still hot enough to get all the health benefits of hot yoga!
Baron Baptiste drew from other hot yoga pioneers when creating this style, including Bikram yoga. As a Vinyasa form of yoga, there is a real emphasis on smooth, flowing transitions between poses. The Power aspect in its name refers to the intensity of the movements: Power yoga will really improve your athleticism!
Baptise Power Vinyasa Yoga is defined by its five pillars: breath, heat, flow, gaze and core stabilisation.
Breath refers to the necessity of strong, deep breathing whilst holding the poses, which is something that can take some practice! Heat, of course, is the requirement that the room is heated, and the flow pillar is the practice of flowing movements and transitions. The gaze aspect of the pillars means you must hold a consistent gaze at a certain point or object in the room. The core stabilisation is a bit more complex - it involves continually drawing in your stomach, to provide a strong, stable core for more effective yoga poses!
The Baptise Power Vinyasa Yoga style allows the instructor to choose his own routine and postures, with the guidance of the five pillars. This means it can be adapted for yogis of all abilities.
It’s a really varied and customisable form of hot yoga, which makes it really attractive to a lot of yoga enthusiasts. In fact, check out our comparison of hatha yoga vs vinyasa yoga as these are 2 of the most popular forms of yoga - find out why!
It has even been adopted by the American football team the Philadelphia Eagles, who are no doubt attracted to its ability to make practitioners stronger and more relaxed. Quite the endorsement for the health benefits of hot Vinyasa yoga!
Hot Power Yoga
The clue is in the name when it comes to this final form of hot yoga we will be looking at!
It became popular in the 1990s when two yoga instructors wanted to find a way of making yoga more accessible to Western, fitness-orientated sports enthusiasts. As it is more strenuous than other types of hot yoga, the room it takes place in is usually slightly cooler than a standard hot yoga class. Hot power yoga classes can usually be found at gyms and other non-yoga specific sites, making them a really flexible option.
Hot power yoga combines the key aspects of hot yoga and power yoga. You can find out more about the benefits, risks, and history of power yoga here.
Again, as the name suggests, it has some aspects in common with the Baptise Power Vinyasa Yoga style. One of the benefits of this approach is how flexible it is; it really encourages practitioners to build their own sequences, and personalise their sessions to a range of requirements.
Both beginners and experienced yoga fans can really benefit from hot power yoga!
The power yoga aspect of hot power yoga is really key, as it refers to a high-intensity, fitness-based yoga session. It can be a lot more frenetic and intense than a more meditation-based yoga style, so be prepared for that!
Hot power yoga provides a great option for fitness enthusiasts who aren’t focused on the more holistic elements of yoga; more workout, less Zen!
The health benefits of hot power yoga are quite simple really - its high intensity, cardiovascular exercise approach makes it ideal for people trying to lose weight, as well as providing the other pluses of hot yoga in general. Intense exercise plus a hot environment equals burned calories!
However, it should be noted that hot power yoga should be approached with caution, especially for those with heart issues, and hydration is immensely important so make sure you take a water bottle with you.
What are The Benefits of Hot Yoga?
So you’re up to speed with some of the different types of hot yoga, and hopefully, you’ve seen one that looks like it could be for you!
There are so many health benefits to hot yoga; we’re going to break them down, as well as explain some of the risks involved.
Let’s jump into our 9 benefits of hot yoga!
#1 Increases Flexibility
This is probably one of the more obvious hot yoga benefits, as ultimately this is still a form of yoga and yoga is renowned for its flexibility boosting effects.
If you’re a beginner that finds the majority of yoga poses difficult to get into then switching to hot yoga could be more beneficial to you as hot yoga can improve flexibility even more so than ordinary yoga.
A study comparing the effects of hot yoga and thermoneutral yoga found that the participants’ flexibility increased by an extra 10% during the hot yoga session compared to standard yoga. The heat helps to loosen up the muscles and joints, allowing for increased flexibility and range of motion when performing yoga, as well as in daily life.
This can also help reduce aches and pains!
Whilst you might be put off a little by the added heat in a yoga studio, the benefits of sweating in hot yoga and improved flexibility can soon make it worthwhile.
If flexibility is your main concern then take a look at our guide on flexibility training.
#2 Boosts Men’s Health
Men’s health has been in the spotlight recently, with issues like stress, mental health, and high blood pressure leading to complications being highlighted as particularly prevalent in men. Whilst these problems are by no means exclusive to men, the proportion of which they affect males is a huge concern.
Fortunately, some of the benefits of hot yoga for men can really help to reduce the impact of these issues!
Hot yoga has been proven to reduce stress through its mindfulness techniques, namely yoga breathing. This is where the practitioner focuses on controlled and deep breathing: this is beneficial to the body as it encourages calmness and can lower the heart rate. Being more aware of your breathing can help alleviate anxieties, bringing you more in tune with your body and grounded with the earth.
Mindfulness and deep breathing can also help to manage mental health issues like anxiety.
So instead of constantly going for a high-intensity, fast-paced exercise program you should try incorporating some hot yoga poses into your workouts to still build strength and stamina but with a little more focus on the mind.
If you need some more convincing then take a look at some of OriGym’s pros and cons of yoga.
#3 Regulate Blood Sugar
Yes, that’s right; hot yoga can even help keep your blood sugar at healthy levels.
This is due to two main reasons: the stress-relieving side of yoga and then the fact that yoga is also a form of exercise.
Hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar levels, is a dangerous occurrence seen most commonly in people with diabetes. High blood sugars can have detrimental effects on a person’s long term health if left untreated, such as damage to the kidneys and eyes, and even short term problems such as severe dehydration and diabetic ketoacidosis.
One key cause of hyperglycemia is stress. It is imperative for diabetics, both type 1 and type 2, to try and reduce stress as much as possible and practise stress-reducing techniques. This is where yoga, and the hot yoga benefits, come in!
The meditative and mindfulness that hot yoga promotes are effective ways of relieving stress in diabetics. Plus, the movements and poses involved with yoga are a gentle form of exercise that can help lower high glucose levels and improve circulation in a low impact manner.
Interestingly, a study in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies suggests that hot yoga is particularly effective in lowering glucose levels in the bloodstream of older participants.
It is important to note, however, that due to the added heat element of hot yoga diabetics should take precautions when participating as both exercise and heat have the potential to lower blood sugar levels. Take extra care as blood glucose could fall too low.
#4 Burn More Calories
The benefits of hot yoga for weight loss are an attractive aspect for many participants; any cardiovascular exercise will burn calories and increase weight loss, and hot yoga is no exception to that.
This is due to the added heat as well as the movements involved in hot yoga. In particular, fast-moving vinyasa-based hot yoga routines are particularly good for losing weight as these require more intensity and pace in movements, increasing cardiovascular activity.
The heat aspect of hot yoga also helps as this further raises the heart rate and increases the amount of sweating during the exercise, all of which increase calorie burning.
This has been discussed in a study in the International Journal of Yoga Therapy which states that:
“Hot yoga classes do advertise the number of calories burned in the class due to the elevated temperature, which increases the level of effort by individuals”(Mace and Eggleston, 2016).
This need for additional effort is what ultimately will help you burn more calories!
So if yoga is your go-to workout but you want to lose a little extra weight then the hot yoga benefits for weight loss could help you reach your fitness goals more effectively.
If you want to get fit but aren’t sure where to start then use OriGym’s free home workout generator - you’ll get a home workout plan that’s completely tailored to your needs!
#5 Aid the Respiratory System
This one should come as no surprise; with the focus on breathing techniques and depth, hot yoga can provide a range of benefits for the respiratory system.
Pranayama is an aspect of hot yoga and is a form of breathing techniques and exercises that can improve and increase lung capacity. Deeper breathing will force the lungs to expand more than usual, increasing their elasticity. Over time this will mean you’re breathing will be stronger!
We mentioned above that practising hot yoga requires more effort which increases the heart rate, and this cardiovascular exercise will also help boost your respiratory system through the transportation of essential nutrients.
Improved breathing also allows more oxygen to enter the bloodstream and reach your organs, which will result in overall better general health.
For more information on pranayama and its benefits read through OriGym’s latest article!
Don't forget to download your own yoga workout sequence!
Read the full article at: origympersonaltrainercourses