Yoga is a $2.5 billion industry and is growing in popularity every day, with many people practising it for mindfulness, wellness, and health. But what are the benefits of hot yoga? Is it worth investing your time and money into this hobby? We take a look.
What is hot yoga?
Hot yoga is a broad term used for any yoga practice done in high temperatures (usually above 30 degrees Celsius.) Some say this is done to mimic the hot and humid temperatures of yoga's country of origin, India. However, some say it is so as to make the yoga participants sweat more and become more flexible thereby getting more out of the session.
A common type of hot yoga is known as Bikram yoga after its founder, Bikram Choudhury, and was first popularised in the 1970s. Bikram hot yoga consists of the same 26 poses and two breathing exercises in every class and is typically done in 40 degree heat (105 degrees Fahrenheit) with 40% humidity.
Bikram yoga has recently come under scrutiny due to personal and professional indiscretions by Bikram Choudhury including alleged sexual assault and multiple law suits.
Advocates of hot yoga claim it encourages the sweating out of toxins and improves circulation, increases flexibility, and decreases stress. However, the drawbacks of exercising in such intense heat and humidity include nausea, dizziness, and the risk of passing out. Pregnant women are one group who are strongly advised against practising hot yoga as the excess heat can cause over-exhaustion and muscle injury. The fetal development can also affect blood pressure which can in turn increase the risk of the mother suffering nausea or syncope (fainting).
Hot yoga benefits
There are supposedly many benefits to practising hot yoga, for example the heat loosens up your muscles, making you more flexible. It is even thought that yoga can reduce emotional eating thereby helping you to lose weight. This is thought to be because of the de-stressing effect that yoga can have on people.
It's very important that you stay well hydrated when practising hot yoga due to the intense heat and humidity which lead to profuse sweating. A leak-proof water bottle that you can have with you is vital. You also want to make sure that you have a non-slip yoga mat as the excess sweat could cause you to slip when holding your poses. Finally, your yoga clothing needs to be super sweat-wicking and stretchy to give you complete freedom of movement and to prevent you from chafing and ending up with sweat rash or body acne after a particularly sweaty hot yoga session.