Is Hot Yoga Safe?

Thinking of trying hot yoga for the first time? Here are a few things to know before you go…

Hot yoga (officially known as Bikram yoga after its founder, Bikram Choudhury, is a form of yoga that is practiced in a hot, humid room, supposedly for additional health and weight loss benefits. A typical class is about 90 minutes long, and includes 26 postures which are practiced in sequence in a room that is heated to 105 degrees. If this sounds grueling, it is, but many Bikram yoga devotees swear by it.

But is hot yoga actually good for you – and even more importantly, is it safe? Here are a few things you should know before practicing hot yoga (or other “hot” workouts):

Studies have shown that there may be some negatives to cranking up the thermostat. Elevated temps may make heat-sensitive medical conditions worse, and increase risk for heat injury, which can range from mild cramps to a life-threatening heat stroke. Heat exhaustion—which includes symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, headache, dizziness, weakness, and fainting—is more likely to occur as core temperature rises, says Robynn Europe.

People with high blood pressure should take caution before heading into the heat, and in general, pregnant women should not participate in hot workouts.

While heat adds a level of risk, it may also offer some benefits (though the research is limited).”Sweating promotes detoxification and elimination through the skin, which is the body’s largest eliminating organ,” Benz says. In fact one study found that sweat actually helped to eliminate trace amounts of lead, arsenic, and mercury from the body. However, other experts believe the main function of sweating is simply to cool down and that extra sweat may impair natural detox function by the liver and kidneys.

You may also notice many classes are heated via infrared lamps. Though the research is unclear, manufacturers and hot workout devotees claim infrared heating detoxifies the body faster and removes more toxins and less water through sweat than hot air or gas heating (like the kind you likely have in your home).


Before you hit the studio… “Definitely eat something (light),” says Sarah Levey, co-founder of Y7 Yoga, a hot yoga studio. “You’re going to sweat a lot of nutrients and water, so have something with sugar or electrolytes beforehand.”

She also says to wear lightweight clothing—and not necessarily shorts, if you think you might end up slipping too much on your mat. Drink 17 to 20 ounces of water beforehand, and bring water and a towel to your class.

A loss of 2 percent of your total body weight or more can be a sign of dehydration (that’s three pounds for a 150-pound person). If you tend to get dizzy in heat or dehydrated quickly, check with your doc before trying that first hot session. Paying attention to your body and knowing your own limits is also important.

“Take breaks when you need them,” Levey says. “You don’t have to feel pressured to go along with everyone else.”

Read more about hot workouts at


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