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YOGAaccessories Blog

Is Hot Yoga Safe?


The American Council on Exercise (ACE) recently released the results on a study titled “Hot Yoga: Go Ahead and Turn Up the Heat.” They measured heart rate and core temperatures between yogis taking normal yoga and yogis taking hot yoga.

Researchers found that there was a very marginal difference (56% in regular conditions vs. 57% in hot yoga) in heart rate, and core temperature levels from Bikram yogis averaged around 99.3 degrees and the highest reading was 102 degrees -- well below the bottom of the “critical zone” (104 degrees, in which heat-related problems and fatigue begin). 

The hot yogis perspired a lot more and the normal yogis barely broke a sweat. On paper, both types of yoga measured are considered “light exercise” and very safe, as long as you drink plenty of water. This will keep you hydrated and proper hydration aids your body in keeping core temperature low.

Now that we know it’s totally safe, let’s look at some of the benefits hot yoga can bring:

  • The heat warms the muscles, allowing you to stretch further into your poses -- increasing range of motion and flexibility

  • Builds strength and muscle tone, and strengthens your core

  • Builds self-discipline: How many times have I been 60 minutes in a Bikram class and just wanted to grab everything and run towards the door? Every time. But sticking with it and never giving up makes me feel so much better about myself afterwards.

  • The heat is said to boost the immune system and increase T-cell production (fights viruses and bacteria).

  • You sweat. A LOT. Some yogic texts suggest cleansing the skin once a day by sweating for thirty minutes at least. Sweating is said to have a positive impact on weight loss and stress reduction.

What is hot yoga, exactly? Read more about hot yoga HERE.

tj Date 7/18/2013
nothing about this article says hot yoga is totally safe. Sweating more does not make for a better work out. I do not teach hot yoga and people in my classes sweat a good amount. Stretching muscles further because it is warmer can actually injure you instead of help. I also have to say that 102 is not well below the critical 104 (neither is 99.3). Do yoga is a warm room so you can heat up from the inside out - makes more sense.
Mike Date 7/18/2013
Ya I've heard opposite from various folks, viewed through various paradigms. The main thing I kept hearing, is the hot yoga stretches the muscle from the outer muscle; closer to the tendons. Thus, the center of the muscle remains tight. Over time, this can cause serious problems, especially losing considerable strength. (mind you, I'm a drummer in a rock band, and not a health professional, so I'm left to trusting the professional advice I do get. But this should just cause you to keep inve
Claudine Date 7/18/2013
Thank you for this comment TJ. I totally endorse what you are saying. The article also does not speak of issues such as heart conditions, asthma, diabetes, irregular blood pressure, and the list is endless. The possibility of injuring yourself by stretching past your natural ability is indeed a concern. So thank you for speaking up!
JS Date 7/18/2013
Overly warm conditions can discourage many students from ever beginning. We serve a slightly older demographic and they want nothing to do with hot rooms and loads of sweat - thjey consider that the realm of "young people". Whether they're right about that or not, the heat is a wall that they rarely want to climb. Similarly, getting in the *habit* of needing a hot room to "do yoga" makes people less apt to believe they can practice at home & on their own.
TO Date 7/18/2013
I do Hot Yoga at least 4x/week and LOVE it! If people learn the correct breathing techniques for the hot environment and listen to their bodies anyone can do it.
Tracy King Date 7/18/2013
The philosophy in Bikram (the patented form) is to push into the resistance and not be too concerned about minor pain - WRONG!! My only injury in 10 years of yoga, both practicing and teaching, was a torn rhomboid in a Bikram class doing locust. Bikram Choudhury, patented his 90 minute routine and class setup to attract the Hollywood crowd with something different. Young, sweaty bodies, scantily clothed had great appeal for the jet set and it caught on! Not that that is all that appeals to the
Tracy King Date 7/18/2013
practitioners today, but it is an unsafe practice for the average person. In most cases it cannot be done outside the studio and that financial requirement is outside the traditional accessibility of yoga for all. "Hot" yoga is just Bikram without the complete patented requirements of the practice and is no more beneficial or safe. Buyer beware, but whatever works for you...Namaste!
maryb Date 7/18/2013
Hot yoga may be what you like and there is nothing wrong with that but lets be clear about what it can and cannot do. Some of the Benefits you claim are your opinion and not proven in the study you mentioned. They just sound like Marketing tactics: Heat does not build strength and muscle tone and it does not strengthen your core. You do that by working those muscles until they are fatigued, on a consistent basis, which takes weeks.. months. Discipline? If building awareness is what y
carolz Date 7/18/2013
Hot yoga appeals to a small sector of the yoga world--and most of its practitioners are quite smitten with its effects.....why else would they regularly subject themselves to the physical discomfort involved? As for the rest of us.....the mandatory thorough questionnaire, explanation of risks, and signed waiver I experienced before being allowed into a Bikram class is a good heads-up. Add equal portions of critical research and good common sense, and the decision to proceed with gusto, with ca
carolz Date 7/18/2013
ution, or not at all should be clear--unless you need warnings of hot contents on coffee cups.
Winkle Date 7/18/2013
i have never taken a hot yoga class, but work at a studio where we use to offer it. I have gone in the room to take pictures and was very uncomfortable with the room being hot. I like Hatha and Ashtanga and still feel like I get a nice workout. Not saying hot yoga is bad, but is should be up to the individual of what they want to do.
Andy Date 7/18/2013
If it doesn't fit your cup of tea, it's fine. There is no need to compare and try to convince other people with fake facts (stretching muscles is dangerous in heated conditions - I think it's more about the attitude that is dangerous - using the heat to stretch beyond RESPECT). I know numerous kinesiologists, doctors, physiotherapists etc.. who practice Hot yoga. Personally, I am ADHD, and I need a good amount of obstacles/situations to be put in front of in order to experience the N
john Date 7/18/2013
the studio is 10 minutes away so i do hot yoga but i dont subscribe to it. iwill say that after 2 years i've gotten used to it
Annie Date 7/18/2013
Did any of you who are complaining about the things this article DIDNT say happen to look at the research? The link is imbedded in the first line of the article. Click on it. They address all of your concerns.
Yogastevi Date 7/18/2013
I've done yoga in India without air conditioning. They don't call it hot yoga, but it might as well be. I don't think it's for everyone (especially now that we have adapted ourselves to a moderate 70 degress all the time), but I imagine ancient yogis were doing it before it was "cool." I practice both ways. I prefer a cool room, but I also don't mind getting out the frigid AC. Feels more like yoga in the motherland to me!
Kathleen Date 7/18/2013
After many years of study, there is no doubt in my mind that "Hot Yoga" is unsafe and just not the proper way to approach Yoga practice. We light a fire in our belly naturally. I know students get sick (throwing up), take days to recover, and are improperly guided through a hot Yoga session. If weight loss is the issue, a safer way to burn calories would be an answer. Thousands of years ago, Yogis knew heat, the west does not.
PS Date 7/18/2013
The research only used 20 people! They did 60 minutes of yoga in a 70-degree room and then within 24 hours did 60 minutes in a 92-degree room, with "significantly" higher humidity. Just using this study isn't enough to draw conclusions.
Anne Date 7/19/2013
Hot Yoga isn't for everyone. People with certain health issues should be mindful and talk to their physicians before doing hot yoga. For people with certain medical conditions this may be harmful to their health. As with any yoga practice and postures, contraindications are there for a reason.
Lorraine Date 7/19/2013
I would like to know what the contraindications are. I have done it and it was difficult but I wanted to go back and continue because I have had chronic pain for about 8 years and practice yoga daily. I have had massage, acupuncture, chiropractic treatment, craniosacral treatment and physical therapy and nothing did what Bikram yoga did. It released something and my mobility increased and after only 4 times I felt so strong in my legs and my belly most of all. If it didn't take up almost 3 hours
Sara Ross Date 7/19/2013
Everyone is different. I love heat, I love hot yoga, but not Bikram , as the same repetitive 26 poses are BORING. If you can't stand the heat, get out of the studio. However, if you like the heat, enjoy it.
Natalie Johnson Date 7/20/2013
Another consideration is your Ayurvedic dosha. If you are predominately Pitta stay the heck away from hot yoga. I suppose I can see the metabolic benefits for those that are predominately Kapha dosha, but for the majority of the population, this is a dangerous practice. Dehydration, electrolyte depletion, nausea and vomiting are not honoring Ahimsa. Sorry Bikram fans, check out the Yoga Sutras.
Date 7/21/2013
If you do hot yoga don't let your teacher or your ego make you push yourself too far. That's what I did and I still have a deep hamstring attachment injury from trying to touch my forehead to my knees 5 years ago. When you're that warm, your muscles will stretch further beyond the point that maybe they should, and more importantly you might not be able to feel that you're injuring yourself in the moment it's happening because you are so warm. Other than that aspect, I liked how hot yoga made
Date 7/21/2013
me feel. It can be very safe if done wisely.
mel waterman Date 7/22/2013
I am disappointed in the folks at Yoga Accessories for the lack of diligence in researching the ill effects of hot yoga. The information presented is misleading. The negative effects of hot yoga on the central nervous system is a much more complex investigation that what is presented. Overheating one's nervous system, which hot yoga does, very often results in a negative effect on the adrenals. Sure folks feel good, that is the endorphin release but with repeated exposure the body wears down. Go
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