Is Hot Yoga Good for You? 5 Benefits & Side Effects

Practicing yoga has been popular in North America for over thirty years now. So somewhere along the way, we’ve probably all heard about the benefits of yoga: improved range of motion, increased flexibility and balance, low impact muscle training, and the list goes on. In the past six years, hot yoga has become really popular. But does adding heat to the room add any benefits or side effects to your workout? Is hot yoga good for you?

While I wouldn’t categorize myself as a yogi, I have been to many yoga classes taught by many different instructors throughout my lifetime. So when I got the offer from Jessie Bicks Fitness to participate in a hot yoga class, I thought I knew what I was getting myself into.

Best Hot Yoga Class Benefits Side Effects Crescent Lunge

© Julie Whelan Photography 2017

Is Hot Yoga Good for You?

I really didn’t think there was much difference between regular yoga and hot yoga. Even though I prepared a little differently for the class with a giant water bottle and a sweat towel, I expected to get the same results as I do with an average yoga class. But what I felt after 60 minutes of posing and breathing was nothing I’d ever felt after a yoga class before. As with any exercise, there are risks and side effects with hot yoga. But if practiced with care, hot yoga carries some pretty sweet benefits as well.

Before I go on to explain how I felt, I should mention that this whole post is about my ‘feels’. While there’s little scientific evidence to show that there are more benefits to practicing yoga in a hot room over a room at 22 C (71.6 F), I certainly feel differently about the two practices.

Best Hot Yoga Class Benefits Side Effects Hamstring Stretch

© Julie Whelan Photography 2017

5 Benefits of Hot Yoga

Warm Muscles

Practicing yoga in a 98 F (36.666 C) room with 35% humidity carries the same benefits as doing a warm up before you exercise or stretch. Your muscles are warm so you’re safe and loose to stretch deeply, and if done carefully, at a lower risk of injury. And man, those deep stretches feel great!

Heavy Sweat

Have you ever completed a halfhearted workout where you didn’t really sweat that much and felt like you wasted your time? Well that will never happen with hot yoga. You sweat so much that after just a few minutes, you’re going to feel like you worked it. While just standing in a hot room wouldn’t do much to get your heart rate going, the fact that you’re exercising in a hot room increases your pulse, allowing you to burn more calories.

Best Hot Yoga Class Benefits Side Effects Warrior Pose

© Julie Whelan Photography 2017

Full Body Workout

One thing that surprised me was the level of difficulty of the hot yoga class. Take it from the instructor who, after making us hold ‘The Hundred’ for what seemed like an hour, said “…and you thought yoga was just stretching!” After the class, my whole body felt like it got worked on and for somebody who wants value out of every workout, I was impressed.

Low Impact

If you’ve read my other posts regarding living an active lifestyle, you know I’m all about a low-impact workout. I want to strengthen my body so that I can be strong and active until the day I die, and not have injuries due to high-impact workouts. Hot yoga is perfect for this. I got a full-body, low-impact workout that left me feeling spent, but strong, instead of sore and limpy.

Best Hot Yoga Class Benefits Side Effects Glute Stretch

© Julie Whelan Photography 2017

Relaxed & Deep Sleep

I don’t know about you but after sweating profusely and stretching out my body, I feel relaxed and invigorated. The day I practiced hot yoga for the first time, I easily fell into a deep sleep and woke up feeling rested.

Best Hot Yoga Class Benefits Side Effects Hamstring & Glute Stretch

© Julie Whelan Photography 2017

How to Prevent Possible Side Effects of Hot Yoga

Drink Plenty of Water & Avoid Coffee

It is super important to avoid coffee (it dehydrates you) and drink at least three litres of water the day you’re going to practice hot yoga to prevent dehydration. I’m a heavy water drinker and even I went through an entire litre during my class. You sweat a lot during a hot yoga class and the last thing you’ll want is to quit because you’re dehydrated.

Best Hot Yoga Class Benefits Side Effects Sweat

© Julie Whelan Photography 2017

Find a Reputable Hot Yoga Studio

If you’re looking to try hot yoga for the first time, you should find a reputable, certified studio that has the staff to monitor participants for heat exhaustion and dizziness, and can prevent blackouts. I practiced at a hot yoga studio here in London, Ontario, called Moksha Yoga. When I asked the owner and instructor, Cathy, the temperature at which the room is set, she had this to say: “[Our] teachers are trained specifically to measure the room and be aware of how student’s bodies react to the heat. There are so many factors to consider, like outside and inside temperature, humidity, the style of class, and the number of students, which is an important reason to ensure you practice with a reputable hot yoga certified studio.”

Best Hot Yoga Class Benefits Side Effects Chair Twist

© Julie Whelan Photography 2017

Be Aware of Your Body

While I do recommend taking a hot yoga class from a certified studio, it’s most important to listen to your body and know your own limitations. When you’re in a heated room and your internal temperature has been raised from exercising, your blood flow increases which may result in you feeling more flexible than usual. It’s important not to push yourself past your limits, resulting in injury like pulled muscles or torn ligaments. I consider myself a pretty active person and there were a few times I had to take a break while the other students were crescent lunging and tree posing. There’s no shame in recognizing your body’s limits and taking a break in child’s pose or leaving the room for somewhere cooler.

Best Hot Yoga Class Benefits Side Effects Sweat Cobra Pose

© Julie Whelan Photography 2017

Thank You

Thanks for taking the time to read my posts and view my images. You can also keep up to date with all my adventures by signing up for our Newsletter. Sign up here and receive a FREE Beginner’s Guide to Outdoor Adventure Photography!

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Best Hot Yoga Class Benefits Side Effects Sun Salutation

© Julie Whelan Photography 2017

About Julie Whelan

Julie Whelan, professional photographer of over fifteen years, has had the opportunity to shoot all over the globe--from capturing portraits in Vanuatu to shooting off rooftops in Maui to photographing products in Calgary. She now finds herself in Ontario photographing outdoor adventures and the active lifestyles of athletic individuals and athletes in competition & training. Julie has also worked with professional athletes such as Don Cherry, Darryl Sittler, and Roberto Alomar. When not behind the lens, Julie likes to unwind with a good book or spending time in the garden.

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