Whenever cold weather roles around again, I always get the urge to take a hot yoga class. There's just something about going from the freezing cold weather outside into a warm yoga studio. I was doing it regularly for a while, but then stopped because my opinion of it was changed.
When I first started blogging back in 2013, I hadn't become a yoga teacher yet. I had thought about it, but since I was finishing up my master's degree, I hadn't gotten around to taking the training yet. At this point in my personal yoga practice, I was practicing yoga at home and attending hot yoga classes pretty regularly (not bikram yoga, more like hot vinyasa). I even wrote a blog post about it on my old blog called How To Survive Hot Yoga.
Then in March 2014, I took my 200 hour yoga teacher training, and my opinion of hot yoga changed. The people I trained with are very against heated yoga, and they told me a lot about their opinion on it and why they have that opinion. Their argument against it made total sense to me, which is why I stopped doing it all together and haven't done it not even once since then.
Why Hot Yoga Isn't That Great for You
It creates an illusion that you're more flexible than you actually are.
The increased temperature in the room warms your muscles, ligaments and tendons at a faster rate then you normally would at room temperature. This creates the illusion that you are more flexible, allowing you to stretch past your limits causing injury.
It doesn't actually detoxify your body.
Unfortunately, the concept that sweating during a hot yoga class is detoxifying is a total myth. Toxins do not release through your sweat glands. The only organs that eliminate toxins from your body are the kidneys, liver and colon. A lot of people believe this claim, but there is no scientific evidence to back it up.
It overly strains your heart.
Your heart has to work a lot harder when you're performing challenging yoga postures in the extreme heat. While cardiovascular workouts are beneficial to your health, in this case, your increased heart rate could be a sign of another problem arising. This brings me to my next point.
It can cause severe dehydration, which leads to heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Unfortunately, sweating that much doesn't release toxins, but it does release a lot of fluid from your body. This increase of sweating this much in such a short period of time can cause dehydration, which will make your heart rate increase, it will make you feel light headed, nauseated, dizzy, and disoriented. In severe cases, this can cause heat stroke, which ironically shuts down your liver and kidneys (the main organs that actually eliminate toxins). In less extreme cases, it can cause heat exhaustion, which will make you feel faint and experience muscle cramping.
It can cause infection.
Hot and humid conditions are the perfect condition for germ breeding. If you're using a yoga mat that your studio provided or if you have an open wound that comes into contact with something or someone that can transfer germs into it, this can cause you to get an infection... which is pretty gross.
I am aware of the controversy that surrounds this topic because so many people swear by hot yoga, especially bikram yoga. But don't just take my word for it. Please, by all means, do your own research before you decide whether or not hot yoga if right for you. Before I learned about these things, I use to really enjoy going to hot yoga classes, even if I did find it to be a very challenging experience. However, now I do know why I found it so challenging.
Girl On Yoga is a blog about yoga, lifestyle, and healthy / mindful living. If you have any questions that you'd like answered on the blog, submit them here.
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