You can admit it. You're oddly intrigued by the concept of hot yoga. Everyone's been raving about it for years now and the idea of sweating out a day's worth of frustrations seems pretty tempting. But you have to be crazy to intentionally exercise in 100 degree weather. Like, bonkers — right?
Well, yeah, exercising in the heat is usually something even seasoned athletes avoid, but hot yoga addicts aren't just getting bendy with the heater on for the fun of it. Hot yoga, when practiced correctly, has a long list of health and wellness benefits — so don't let intimidation hold you back from getting in on all the good stuff.
Practicing yoga in a heated room increases your pulse rate and metabolism, allowing your blood vessels to become more flexible and making your bod burn some major calories! This in turn makes circulation easier and increases blood flow to the limbs.
"Hot yoga is amazing for weight loss, as you sweat like a fiend. Like other yogas, it will build muscle tone [but will also] improve the lymphatic system and flush out toxins. It's amazing for developing equanimity in the face of adversity and obstacles," says Mandy Ingber, fitness expert and author of Yogalosophy: 28 Days to the Ultimate Mind-Body Makeover.
Hot yoga goes above and beyond when it comes to relieving stress and building inner confidence. This practice is the true definition of “mind over matter.” The endorphin rush you receive after completing a 60- to 90-minute sweat session will leave you feeling like there’s nothing you can’t accomplish.
While I’m a huge fan of hot yoga, there are definitely some precautions you should take in order to stay safe. Read the tips below before turning up the heat in your practice.
Ingber recommends drinking 2 to 3 liters throughout the day. You will undoubtedly sweat more during these types of classes than in most other forms of exercise, so it’s very easy to become dehydrated. It is extremely important that you drink plenty of water before, during and after your practice.
"Everyone is encouraged to drink at least eight glasses of fluids per day in general," says yoga expert and director of SpaHalekulani, Kamala Nayeli. "When you exercise, this amount should increase by two to three cups. If you raise your core temperature or partake in a hot yoga class, I would [also] recommend including a small dose of salt prior to the class. Or have a natural 'sports drink' that will replenish the sodium you lose when sweating."
Next Up: The rules for eating before hot yoga
Originally published August 2016. Updated September 2017.
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