February 24

The Hidden Dangers of Hot Yoga You Need to Know

Yoga is meant to be a relaxing and restorative activity. Hot yoga, sometimes referred to as Bikram yoga, can be intense. 

Listen to the Article Summary

As hot yoga continues to gain popularity across fitness circles, the potential dangers of practicing in a room heated to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit have come under scrutiny. If you’re considering trying hot yoga, there are a few crucial things you should be aware of about the hidden risks.

People practicing hot yoga, sweating, and focused.

Be prepared to sweat in a hot yoga classes

My Experience with Hot Yoga

I started practicing hot yoga over a year ago, drawn in by the promises of extra fat-burning, eliminating toxins, and achieving that coveted yogi glow.

And while my flexibility and balance have improved thanks to flowing in the heated room, I also started noticing some concerning side effects. I was lightheaded after class, had trouble regulating my blood pressure, and often left the class feeling dizzy and disoriented. These symptoms sometimes lasted for hours after my hot yoga sessions.

Then This Happened

It wasn’t until I passed out in the middle of class that I realized how dangerous practicing in extreme heat can be.

As I came to, my instructor rushed over to check on me, admitting that students occasionally faint during hot yoga classes. Heat stroke and dehydration can strike quickly, especially for new students not accustomed to exercising in sweltering conditions for 90 minutes straight.

It turns out that the excessive heat combined with intense poses puts strain on your cardiovascular system. And as your heart works harder to keep up, it becomes overwhelmed, leading to oxygen deprivation.

Woman with glistening skin from a hot yoga session, warm lighting.

I was experiencing some heat exhaustion

Conditions to be Aware of with Hot Yoga

In addition, the heated and poorly ventilated rooms can prevent sweat from evaporating off your skin efficiently. When sweat can’t evaporate, it prevents your body temperature from cooling itself down naturally. As your core temperature rises to dangerous levels, heat exhaustion sets in. Its symptoms, like nausea, headaches, and tremors, warn that heat stroke isn’t far behind. Without quick treatment and cooling, prolonged heat stroke can even lead to long-term organ damage or death in extreme cases.

Beware of these Potential Risks

So, while proponents argue that pushing your body to its limits in extreme heat eliminates toxins and provides superior health benefits, research shows it may do more harm than good. Numerous studies have uncovered the health risks like heat exhaustion, cardiovascular overload, and kidney strain that hot yoga can inflict over time.

Related Research

Hot yoga poses certain risks that individuals should be aware of. Dehydration is a significant concern during hot yoga sessions, making it crucial to drink water before, during, and after the class[4]. Individuals with pre-existing health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, arterial abnormalities, anorexia nervosa, or a history of fainting are more prone to passing out in a hot room and should consult with their doctor before attempting hot yoga[4]. Pregnant women should also seek medical advice before engaging in hot yoga[4].

Moreover, the heated environment in hot yoga studios can lead to overstretching and injuries, especially in tendons and ligaments[2]. It is essential to avoid overstretching and focus on feeling tension rather than pain during poses[2]. The intense heat can also cause heat-related illnesses and profuse sweating, potentially leading to dehydration[2]. Therefore, it is recommended to drink water or electrolytes before, during, and after a hot yoga session[2].

From my review, there’s no substantial proof that exercising in high heat better eliminates toxins either. Our kidneys and liver already efficiently filter waste without the need for sweat-inducing studios.

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Ultimately, you may put your body under excessive strain for minimal rewards.

Condensation on water bottle with towel at yoga studio

Always have a bottle of water, a towel, and a yoga mat with you

All in All

As hot yoga continues to achieve cult-like status among yogis and gym rats alike, it’s essential not to overlook the potential dangers excessive heat can present during exercise. My frightening mid-class fainting episode opened my eyes to how potentially hazardous hot yoga can be, especially for new students seeking a purported miracle workout. 

So, if you’re gearing up to step into your first hot yoga studio, prepare adequately, bring water and electrolytes, listen to your body carefully, and know the warning signs of heat-related illnesses. The hidden dangers are lurking - but with the proper precautions, you can minimize the risks and hopefully avoid an unnecessary health crisis.

Namaste, Staff Writer

Group hot yoga session in sunlight

Have bottled water and a towel handy while you're sweating out the toxins

Hot Yoga FAQs

What is hot yoga and why has it gained popularity?

Hot yoga is practiced in a room heated to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit and has gained popularity for its promise of extra fat-burning, eliminating toxins, and improving flexibility and balance.

What are some common side effects experienced after hot yoga sessions?

Common side effects include lightheadedness, trouble regulating blood pressure, dizziness, disorientation, and sometimes symptoms lasting for hours after sessions.

What risks does practicing hot yoga in extreme heat pose?

Excessive heat can strain the cardiovascular system, leading to oxygen deprivation, heat stroke, dehydration, and, in severe cases, long-term organ damage or death.

Are there any proven benefits of exercising in high heat, such as toxin elimination?

Research varies, but has not found substantial proof that exercising in high heat eliminates toxins more effectively, as the kidneys and liver already filter waste efficiently without the need for sweat-inducing studios.

How can one minimize the risks associated with hot yoga?

To minimize risks, it's crucial to prepare adequately, stay hydrated with water and electrolytes, listen to your body carefully, and be aware of the warning signs of heat-related illnesses.

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