Hot yoga aficionados swear by its ability to deepen stretches and remove toxins, but it's not for everyone. Despite hot yoga classes popping up worldwide, you might wonder if it's safe to exercise in a 100-degree room. According to a study conducted by the American Council on Exercise, as long as the room temperature doesn't exceed 104 degrees, you're probably not in danger of overheating. Researchers found that participants' heart rates were the same whether they were in regular or hot yoga class, so as long as you stay hydrated, the practice is relatively safe.
What to Expect
The room in which your hot yoga class takes place will be heated to somewhere between 90 and 102 degrees. Whether artificially generated or due to the sweating of participants, humidity will be high. The fewer clothes you wear, the more comfortable you'll be -- expect to see others wearing short-shorts and sports bras. The first time you do a hot yoga class, the biggest challenge will probably be to simply stay in the room.
Staying hydrated and going at your own pace are crucial as you acclimate to a hot yoga practice. Drink plenty of water before you practice and bring a large water bottle to stay hydrated during class. Slight dizziness and nausea are normal, but passing out and vomiting are not. If you feel yourself becoming lightheaded or nauseated, rest in Child's pose until the sensation goes away. Tell your teacher before practicing that you're new to hot yoga so she can provide adjustments for you during class.
Benefits of Hot Yoga
Any practice as intense as hot yoga is bound to be transformational in some way. Not only can hot yoga help you build a better body, meeting yourself on the mat can help you gain compassion, humility and clarity. When your muscles are very warm, you might find you can achieve a greater degree of flexibility. The heat elevates your heart rate, providing cardiovascular benefits. Plus, just enduring a hot yoga class can be a major self-confidence booster.
Dangers of Hot Yoga
Bikram yoga, the original hot yoga, is known for its "no pain, no gain" stance, with founder Bikram Choudhury referring to his classes as "torture chambers." If you have a tendency to get competitive or ignore your body's signals, this might not be the best environment for you. Overstretching your muscles can also lead to injury, so being in an environment that makes you feel hyper-flexible requires diligence and patience to keep yourself safe. If you don't drink enough water, you could suffer from dehydration, so up your water intake if you plan to start a regular hot yoga practice.