I’m asked on a daily basis, “Why hot yoga? What’s the difference?”
Well, I’ll tell you.
1. Greater flexibility
Think of an elastic band. A warm elastic band has way more give; it is stretchier and is way less likely to snap. A cold elastic band is tough to stretch and can snap easily. Your muscles are just like this. While in an ambient temperature studio you need to warm up the muscles more gradually, just being in the hot studio allows you to begin to stretch your body further faster, allowing you to get more openness and deeper stretches during your session.
2. Builds bone density
Supporting your weight during a pose has been proven to improve bone density, leading to a significant reduction in the chance of developing osteoporosis. The heat helps to limber up your joints, allowing you to put more weight through your bones rather than it being held by tight hips, knees, shoulders or elbows.
3. Reduces stress and encourages a sense of mastery
People tend to look at me funny when I mention this “sense of mastery”, but stick with me on this. Any time we achieve something, however small, it gives us a sense of mastery over our situation. As a task increases in complexity, we take even greater satisfaction in our ability to complete it. Before you walk into a hot yoga class, you know it’s going to be tough; walking in there, committing to it and coming out the other side gives you a massive sense of mastery and achievement and this is huge for building confidence and reducing stress. Knowing that you can be challenged and come out the other side helps you to tackle the rest of your life in a more open and positive way.
4. Reduces depression
A review of 23 studies from the database of the National Institutes of Health found conclusively that yoga as a treatment for depression is proven to reduce depressive symptoms over a very short period of time. The endorphin boost that you get from being in the heat only compounds that.
5. Boosts heart health
During one session of hot yoga, your heart rate can increase to the same level as it would on a brisk walk, jog or cycle. This helps to stave off things like cardiovascular disease as well as improve the strength of the muscles of the heart and lungs. A good hot yoga session is a good cardio session!
6. Burns calories
Like any good cardio session, a hot yoga class can be super effective in burning a few extra calories. In one of our 75 minute sessions, men can expect to burn as many as 460 calories while women can expect to burn about 330- and that’s just a baseline.
7. Reduces blood glucose levels.
A 2013 study proved that hot yoga helps to reduce circulating levels of glucose in the bloodstream, which may make it an extremely helpful practice for people at a higher risk for Type 2 diabetes. It also proved to improve glucose tolerance in adults with obesity.
8. YOU SWEAT, A LOT.
Sweating is one of the main objectives of hot yoga. Its benefits deserve a blog post of their own, but I’ll give you the Cliff Notes-
- It gives your skin a healthy glow. It improves circulation, bringing oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to skin cells, helping to nourish your skin from the inside.
- Promotes better sleep.
- Aids healthy weight-loss and reduces bloating.
- Detoxifies the blood and helps to release excess salt, cholesterol and alcohol (good to know if you had a couple of G&Ts the night before.
- Clears pores, releasing the grime that causes spots and acne.
- Sweat is naturally antibacterial so it can help to improve symptoms of acne as well as speed up recovery of any little cuts or scrapes or even cold-sores you may have. It can also help to ease itching in sufferers of eczema or psoriasis and help to relieve irritation from insect bites.
- It causes the body to demand more hydration, which helps to keep the kidneys and bladder flushed out and healthy.
- Sweating helps to rid the body of pollutants that occur in the air we breathe every day, particularly if you live in an urban area! It also helps to eliminate pollutants we may ingest, such as BPA and DEHP that are present in plastics.
- Huge boost to endorphin release. Endorphins = happiness. They are also natural painkillers, so sufferers of any sort of chronic pain stand to see great improvement from regular good sweat sessions.
- Regular sweating improves efficacy of the sweat glands, helping our body to become better at regulating its own temperature.
If you’re not sure if hot yoga is for you, all I can say is that you have to try it. Once you do, you’ll get it. Sweating in a hot room while bending and stretching with a bunch of other people doesn’t sound all that appealing, you’ll just have to trust me when I tell you that it is for you, you will love it, you will feel the benefits. Don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it!