You’ve likely heard of hot yoga and thought, “that must be exactly what it sounds like!” While that’s partially correct, there are numerous different types of hot yoga and benefits they can have on your body and overall health. In this post, we’ll take a look at just what hot yoga is, some of those additional forms and what benefits each of them provides.
What is Hot Yoga?
We asked some of our staff members to give their definition of hot yoga.
“Hot yoga tends to be a class where a yoga instructor leads students through a variety of different yoga poses in a room usually heated and humid.”
“Hot Yoga is your traditional, freestyle yoga class combined with tropical heat.”
“It is the foundation of creating balance between the body and mind.”
While there are several different definitions, hot yoga can best be described as any form of yoga done in a heated room. Typically, the hot yoga room is heated to between 95 and 105 degrees as you practice flowing from one pose to the next.
Sweat is a major by-product of hot yoga, which means hydration and recovery are key to the practice.
Also known as Bikram hot yoga classes, each follows the same series of 26 postures and two breathing exercises. Each one takes you through a series of different movements, the same way each time. The goal is to work the entire body to generate blood flow to every fiber of your being.
This restores all systems to function as nature intended. Ultimately, this specific series of poses warms up and stretches muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the order they should be stretched.
Why the Heat?
We mentioned that sweating is a key component to hot yoga, but why exactly does the heat need to be cranked up? One of the most beneficial aspects of extra perspiration is that it prevents your body from overheating. Sweating is essentially your body’s way of cooling down. As you sweat, your body will get rid of toxins. Less toxins in your body means a healthier immune system.
Another benefit to the hot temperature is that viruses and bacteria do not survive above 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Hot yoga can help stave off the bacteria and viruses from taking over your system from the beginning.
Most of what our bodies sweat out is water, with trace amounts of urea, lactic acid and minerals. The body does not sweat out metabolic byproducts in high enough quantities to be beneficial for the body’s metabolic function. Real toxin elimination is performed by the kidneys, liver and colon, meaning hot yoga is essentially dehydrating us and helping us shed water weight.
Most people equate hot yoga with Bikram Yoga, the grandfather of sweaty yoga. Bikram Choudhury brought his style of heated yoga, 26 postures repeated twice in 105-degree heat, to the United States in 1970.
Also known as Modo Yoga, Moksha varies from studio to studio and so does the temperature. This type of yoga focuses on whole-body strength and flexibility. Classes always begin with a mind-centering relaxation pose. Moksha Yoga also focuses on being green and eco-conscious.
Evolation Yoga is growing very fast and teaches Bikram’s original hot series at full heat of 105 degrees. Evolation also offers flow, Ashtanga, and yin classes at temps ranging from 75 to 90 degrees so still hot but not as hot as other classes.
There are several other types that vary by studio, so be sure to ask our staff which form of hot yoga is right for you!
We’ve already mentioned the positive effect that sweating can have, but what other health benefits does hot yoga offer? Our staff members had some thoughts of their own:
“Hot yoga helps warm and loosen tight muscles as well as ideally cleanse the mind, body and spirit through the poses and breath work.”
“The heat allows one to focus on mindfully breathing which then helps the mind focus and improve strength and balance of the body.”
“Helps relax stiff muscles so the person can bend more into the pose and helps focus on their posture and breathing techniques to stay cool and calm”
“Yoga in general is great for everyone. Hot specifically is wonderful because the heat allows the body to soften and move with ease. I equate it to a cold piece of plastic – is tough and doesn’t bend apply some heat the plastic softens and bends more easily”
“The warmer room will make it easier for your muscles to stretch. The steamy temps allow you to increase your range of motion and stretch deeper within each pose”
“While you might think a stifling room makes it harder to breathe, the breathing exercises in hot yoga can actually help train your lungs to retain more air. Deeper breaths force them to expand more than usual, which allows for more oxygen to enter the blood stream and get to the other organs.”
“Usually, hot yoga makes you focus on your breathing more, since it’s sweltering in those rooms, and breathing deeper is key to relaxation and stress-relief”