Hot Yoga: Trendy New Workout or Terrible for your Health?

Hot Yoga: Trendy New Workout or Terrible for your Health?



Hot Yoga seems to be on of the hottest trends in the wellness community. This article will discuss how exercises in humid and heated environments can be beneficial and how doing Hot Yoga might not actually be the best method to achieve those benefits. This article will cover what hot yoga is, why it became so popular, and give alternative training methods. This article will also highlight behavior characteristics that  drive people to pursue hot yoga. 

What Hot Yoga Is

The term "hot yoga" often refers to Bikram yoga and similar styles where you practice for 90 minutes in a 104 or 105-degrees-Fahrenheit room with 40% humidity. Bikram yoga — the original form of Western hot yoga — originated in the 1970s, and it involves a set of 26 postures. Bikram yoga is a type of hatha yoga characterized by a set series of postures and breathing exercises, performed in a room heated to a very high temperature. People are drawn to the idea that yoga increases their flexibility. They also enjoy the aspect of training in a heated room, to increase calories burned to help aid in weight-loss. Practicing yoga in a heated room adds an additional level of stress on the body, making it feel more like a rigorous workout opposed to just stretching, which is a big reason why people are being drawn towards hot yoga.



This brings us to the reason why people pursue hot yoga in the first place. As HIIT and boot camp classes are on the rise, people want to get hot and sweaty with their yoga practice as well. Traditional yoga is not designed to be rigorous, but with our fast past lives it makes sense that the demand for a “restorative” practice to become more intense. This behavior is driven by people's inability to relax. This article is not promoting traditional yoga but sees how even something slow pace and mundane as yoga has been marketed towards adrenaline and cortisol seeking junkies.


Why Hot Yoga is Popular


People typically approach hot yoga with the idea of weight loss in mind. Training in a heated room can have health benefits and can aid in weight loss but most of that might come from water weight instead of actual fat. It is more beneficial for someone to address their behaviors that lead them to over-eating instead of during strenuous workouts or putting their body in more of a stress response. 



Some people are interested in Hot Yoga for fat loss, aiming to sink belly fat. Hot Yoga can reduce water retention in the body due to the fact that you are sweating in a hot room for over an hour. Weight loss is not linked directly to physical activity whether that is in hot or cold temperatures. It is related to a variety of health factors that includes:

  • how much stress a person is dealing with
  • how many calories they are consuming
  • and a wide variety of other health factors that can influence a person's life.

This is why it is more important to focus on behavioral changes so they stop overeating and learn to address the behaviors associated with their weight gain in the first place. Other behaviors that drive people to do hot yoga is having tight muscles so they feel like they need to release the tension in their muslces by stregthing. Doing Hot Yoga can can also be dangerous because the body is warm and muscles can be over stretched. 

Flaws of Hot Yoga

The body has an unique ability to adapt to different stressors and temperature change is one of them. There are studies to show that training in the heat increases V02 max while training. It also has been proven to increase blood flow while exercising. There are benefits to training in the heat but the benefits of hot yoga do not equate to heat training. This is because yoga is a flawed training modality: Yoga does not account for our biological blueprint for moving. Yoga can make the body hyper-flaccid by taking joints through an unnatural range of motion and making the skeletal structure less stable. Adding heat training to this modality does not erase the negative externalities that come with it. 

Yoga in theory isn’t a bad concept. But the application and practice of yoga does not consider how members of modern society no longer have physical structures that move or stand symmetrically, nor does it account for how we may compensate one side of our body compared to the other. The poses and movements of yoga are advertised as being ‘grounding’ and returning a person back to ‘nature’. While these terms sound nice, yoga isn’t the practice athletes include to become more athletic, and while adding hear may make one feel more exerted, we ask the question: Exerted to feel and achieve what with your body?




If someone was interested in adding heat training to their fitness regimen, a possible alternative could be to add saunas to their fitness routine a few times a week - But if they already know they have adverse reactions to extreme temperatures, it’s best to take it slow and not expose one’s self to the hottest heat possible right away. Just training in hot temperatures outside could be another alternative, but again keep in mind that the idea is not to push it too far. Sun exposure adds an extra layer of stress on the body, and while we believe sun light is good, it’s important to consider getting sun during the times of day that will be comfortable for your skin and your tolerance.



The most important aspect of training is building a baseline that makes the body resilient so it can handle the demands of heated training. The most optimal way to do that is through training Functional Patterns. Functional Patterns is designed to address the imbalances in the body to make the body more resilient to everyday life. It also helps address dysfunctional behaviors. These are the cornerstones to making the body more resilient, something that Hot Yoga does not account for.

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