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8 Benefits of Sweating It Out With Hot Yoga

Health + Wellness
8 Benefits of Sweating It Out With Hot Yoga
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Medically reviewed by Daniel Bubnis, MS, NASM-CPT, NASE Level II-CSS

Written by James Roland

Hot yoga has become a popular exercise in recent years. It offers many of the same benefits as traditional yoga, such as stress reduction, improved strength, and flexibility.


But, with the heat turned up, hot yoga has the ability to give your heart, lungs, and muscles an even greater, more intense workout.

Are you interested in learning more about the ways you can benefit from hot yoga? This article will take a closer look at what this sweat-inducing workout can do for you and how you can get started.

What is hot yoga?

You may hear the terms "hot yoga" and "Bikram yoga" used interchangeably, but they're not exactly the same thing.

Bikram yoga, developed by a yogi named Bikram Choudhury, is done in a room heated to 105°F (41°C) with 40 percent humidity. It consists of 26 poses and two breathing exercises that are done in the same order in every class. Bikram yoga sessions typically last 90 minutes.

Hot yoga, on the other hand, really just means that the room is heated above normal room temperature. The heat can be set to whatever the yoga instructor wants, though it's typically between 80 and 100°F (27 and 38°C).

Hot yoga sessions can include any variety of poses, and the time of each class will vary from studio to studio. And unlike Bikram yoga, which is a quieter, serious practice, hot yoga often includes music and more interaction among the people in the class.

Bikram yoga has lost followers in recent years due to assault allegations against its founder. Some studios may use the term "hot yoga" rather than "Bikram yoga" to describe their heated classes. So, it's a good idea to read class descriptions carefully before signing up.

What are the benefits of hot yoga?

Regardless of the room temperature, both hot yoga and Bikram yoga aim to provide relaxation of the mind and improve physical fitness.

A heated environment can make the practice of yoga more challenging, but some of the benefits may be worth it, especially if you're looking to make progress in one of the areas outlined below.

If done correctly and safely, hot yoga can provide the following benefits:

1. Improves Flexibility

You may already know that stretching after you warm up your muscles is safer than stretching cold muscles.

So, it follows that an environment like a hot yoga studio can make yoga poses easier and more effective. The heat allows you to stretch a little further and achieve a greater range of motion.

A 2013 studyTrusted Source of Bikram yoga found that after 8 weeks, yoga participants had greater flexibility in their low back, shoulders, and hamstrings than the control group.

2. Burns More Calories

A 160-pound person can burn around 183 calories an hour with traditional yoga. Turning up the heat can help you burn even more calories.

According to researchers at Colorado State University, the calorie burn can be as high as 460 for men and 330 for women during a 90-minute Bikram yoga session.

Hot yoga, even if it's not quite as intense as a Bikram session, will burn more calories than a traditional yoga workout.

3. Builds Bone Density

Supporting your weight during a yoga pose can help build bone density. This is especially important for older adults and premenopausal women, as bone density declines as you age.

A 2014 study of women who participated in Bikram yoga over a 5-year period found that premenopausal women had increased bone density in their neck, hips, and lower back.

This lead the authors of the study to believe that Bikram yoga may be an effective option for reducing the risk of osteoporosis in women.

4. Reduces Stress

Many people turn to yoga as a natural way to deal with stress.

A 2018 studyTrusted Source of stressed, physically inactive adults found that a 16-week program of hot yoga significantly reduced the participants' stress levels.

At the same time, it improved their health-related quality of life, as well as their self-efficacy — the belief that you have control over your behavior and social environment.

5. Eases Depression

Yoga is well known as a technique to help you relax and improve your mood. According to the American Psychology Association, it may also be a helpful therapy for reducing the symptoms of depression.

Additionally, a 2017 reviewTrusted Source of 23 different studies that focused on yoga as a treatment for depression concluded that yoga is an effective way to reduce depressive symptoms.

6. Provides a Cardiovascular Boost

Striking different yoga poses in high heat can give your heart, lungs, and muscles a more challenging workout than doing the same poses in a lower temperature.

According to a 2014 study, just one session of hot yoga is enough to get your heart pumping at the same rate as a brisk walk (3.5 miles per hour).

Hot yoga also revs up your respiration and metabolism.

7. Reduces Blood Glucose Levels

While any type of exercise can help burn energy and reduce circulating levels of glucose (sugar) in your bloodstream, hot yoga may be an especially helpful tool for people at higher risk for type 2 diabetes.

A 2013 studyTrusted Source found that a short-term Bikram yoga program improved glucose tolerance in older adults with obesity, but it had less of an effect on young, lean adults.

8. Nourishes the Skin

Sweating, and a lot of if, is one of the main objectives of hot yoga.

One of the benefits of sweating in a warm environment is that it can improve circulation, bringing oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood to skin cells. This, in turn, may help to nourish your skin from the inside.

Safety Tips

If you're in good health, hot yoga is generally safe. But, as with most types of exercise, there are some safety precautions to keep in mind.

  • Dehydration is a major concern with hot yoga. Drinking water before, during, and after a hot yoga class is essential. A low-calorie sports drink may also help restore electrolytes lost during your hot yoga workout.
  • If you have low blood pressure or low blood sugar, you may be prone to dizziness or lightheadedness with hot yoga. Check with your doctor to make sure hot yoga is safe for you.
  • Pregnant women should consult their doctor before trying hot yoga.
  • If you've had heat intolerance problems in the past, you may want to stick with yoga that's done at a normal temperature.
  • Stop right away if you feel dizzy, lightheaded, or nauseous. Leave the room and rest in a cooler environment.

How to Get Started

If you haven't done yoga before, you may want to try a regular yoga class first to see if the instructor and studio are a comfortable fit for you. While there, ask about hot yoga classes and if there are classes that cater to beginners.

You may also want to try out a few different yoga studios before you commit to one. Ask if the yoga studio offers free or discounted trial classes so you can see if it's the right fit for you.

If you're ready to give hot yoga a try, consider these tips to get started:

  • Wear lightweight, breathable fabrics that can wick away your sweat.
  • Bring a towel to place over your yoga mat, which may get a little slippery once you start sweating. You can also bring an extra towel for your face and hands.
  • Consider special gloves and socks that can provide a better grip in a hot yoga studio.
  • Bring a large, insulated water bottle filled with cold water that you can sip throughout your hot yoga session.

The Bottom Line


Hot yoga may not be for everyone. But if you enjoy regular yoga, and want to step it up a notch, it may be just what you're looking for.

Hot yoga offers a wide variety of benefits for both your mind and body. It can help you burn calories, build bone density, boost your cardiovascular fitness, and improve your flexibility. It may also help ease depression and reduce stress.

If you have any health conditions, including heart or artery issues, diabetes, anorexia nervosa, a history of fainting, or heat intolerance, consult your doctor first before doing a hot yoga session.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Sir David Attenborough look at a piece of ice core from the Antarctic during a naming ceremony for the polar research ship the RSS Sir David Attenborough on Sept. 26, 2019 in Birkenhead, England. Asadour Guzelian - WPA Pool / Getty Images

By Elliot Douglas

In early October, Britain's Prince William teamed up with conservationist David Attenborough to launch the Earthshot Prize, a new award for environmentalist innovation. The Earthshot brands itself the "most prestigious global environment prize in history."

The world-famous wildlife broadcaster and his royal sidekick appear to have played an active role in the prize's inception, and media coverage has focused largely on them as the faces of the campaign.

But the pair are only the frontmen of a much larger movement which has been in development for several years. In addition to a panel of experts who will decide on the winners, the prize's formation took advice from the World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace and the Jack Ma Foundation.

With more and more global attention on the climate crisis, celebrity endorsement of environmental causes has become more common. But why do environmental causes recruit famous faces for their campaigns? And what difference can it make?

'Count Me In'

"We need celebrities to reach those people who we cannot reach ourselves," says Sarah Marchildon from the United Nations Climate Change secretariat (UNFCCC) in Bonn, Germany.

Marchildon is a proponent of the use of celebrities to raise awareness of environmental causes. In addition to promoting a selection of climate ambassadors who represent the UN on sustainability issues, Marchildon's team has produced videos with well-known narrators from the entertainment world: among them, Morgan Freeman and Mark Ruffalo.

"We choose celebrities who have a lifestyle where they are already talking about these issues," Marchildon explains.

"Sometimes they reach out to us themselves, as David Attenborough did recently. And then they can promote the videos on their own social channels which reach more people than we do — for example, if they have 20 million followers and we have 750,000."

Environmental groups focused on their own domestic markets are also taking this approach. One Germany-based organization that uses celebrities in campaigns is the German Zero NGO. Set up in 2019, it advocates for a climate-neutral Germany by 2035.

German Zero produced a video in March 2020 introducing the campaign with "66 celebrities" that supported the campaign, among them Deutschland 83 actor Jonas Nay and former professional footballer Andre Schürrle. They solicit support as well as financial contributions from viewers.

"Count me in," they say, pointing toward the camera. "You too?"

"We are incredibly grateful for the VIPs in our videos," says German Zero spokeswoman Eva-Maria McCormack.

Assessing Success Is Complex

But quantifying the effectiveness of celebrity endorsement of campaigns is not a straightforward process.

"In order to measure effectiveness, first of all you need to define what is meant by success," says Alegria Olmedo, a researcher at the Zoology Department at the University of Oxford.

Olmedo is the author of a study looking at a range of campaigns concerning pangolin consumption, fronted by local and Western celebrities, in Vietnam and China. But she says her biggest stumbling block was knowing how to measure a campaign's success.

"You need a clear theory of change," explains Olmedo. "Have the celebrities actually helped in achieving the campaign's goals? And how do you quantify these goals? Maybe it is increased donations or higher engagement with a cause."

A popular campaign in China in recent years saw famous chefs Zhao Danian and Shu Yi pledge to abstain from cooking endangered wildlife. While the pledge achieved widespread recognition, both Olmedo and Marchildon say it's difficult to know whether it made any difference to people's actions.

"In life we see a thousand messages every day, and it is very hard to pinpoint whether one campaign has actually made a difference in people's behavior," she explains.

Awareness Is Not Enough

Many campaigns that feature celebrities focus on raising awareness rather than on concrete action — which, for researcher Olmedo, raises a further problem in identifying effectiveness.

"Reach should never be a success outcome," she says. "Many campaigns say they reached a certain number of people on social media. But there has been a lot of research that shows that simply giving people information does not mean they are actually going to remember it or act upon it."

But anecdotal evidence from campaigns may suggest reach can make an active difference.

"Our VIP video is by far the most watched on our social media channels," McCormack from German Zero says. "People respond to it very directly. A lot of volunteers of all ages heard about us through that video."

However, some marketing studies have shown that celebrity endorsement of a cause or product can distract from the issue itself, as people only remember the person, not the content of what they were saying.

Choosing the Right Celebrity

Celebrity choice is also very important. Campaigns that use famous faces are often aiming to appeal to members of the public who do not necessarily follow green issues.

For certain campaigns with clear target audiences, choosing a climate scientist or well-known environmentalist rather than a celebrity could be more appealing — Attenborough is a classic example. For others, images and videos involving cute animals may be more likely to get a message heard than attaching a famous face.

"We choose celebrities who have a lifestyle where they are already talking about these issues," says Marchildon from the UN. "You need figures with credibility."

McCormack cites the example of Katharine Hayhoe, an environmental scientist who is also an evangelical Christian. In the southern United States, Hayhoe has become a celebrity in her own right, appealing to an audience that might not normally be interested in the messages of climate scientists.

But as soon as you get a celebrity involved, campaigns also put themselves at risk of the whims of that celebrity. Prince William and younger members of the royal family have come under fire in recent years for alleged hypocrisy for their backing of environmental campaigns while simultaneously using private jets to fly around the world.

But Does It Really Work?

While environmental campaigns hope that endorsement from well-known figures can boost a campaign, there is little research to back this up.

"The biggest finding [from my study] was that we were unable to produce any evidence that shows that celebrity endorsement of environmental causes makes any difference," says Olmedo.

This will come as a blow to many campaigns that have invested time and effort into relationships with celebrity ambassadors. But for many, the personal message that many celebrities offer in videos like that produced by German Zero and campaigns like the Earthshot Prize are what counts.

The research may not prove this conclusively — but if the public believes a person they respect deeply personally cares about an important issue, they are perhaps more likely to care too.

"I personally believe in the power this can have," says Marchildon. "And if having a celebrity involved can get a single 16-year-old future leader thinking about environmentalist issues — that is enough."

Reposted with permission from DW.

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