Hot Yoga Temperature: How Does It Affect The Body? The Benefits & Risks

reviewed by Liz Burns 500H RYT
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What temperature is hot yoga & what are the impacts of getting this hot?

Hot yoga temperatures typically range from 85°F to 105°F (30°C to 40°C) with humidity levels between 40% to 60%. Hot yoga is really any form of yoga performed in these temperature and humidity ranges.

Importantly, it can be perceived more as an exercise and activity that releases endorphins compared to other yoga styles. This is because yoga is meant to cultivate mindful acceptance of the body in the present moment, rather than pushing it to extremes. 

That’s why, in India and other hot climates, yoga is generally practiced in the morning or evening to avoid the heat of the direct sun.

In this article, we’ll dive into hot yoga temperatures and how this heat affects the body, covering the below topics:

  • What Is Hot Yoga?
  • Differences To Bikram Yoga
  • Positive Benefits Of Hot Yoga
  • Downsides Of Hot Yoga
woman patting towel on her face because of the hot yoga temperature

What Is Hot Yoga?

Hot yoga ranges from classes structured around particular slower sequences, to a fluid set of changing postures such as in hot vinyasa yoga

It can be any combination of poses and lends itself to a more challenging workout experience than regular yoga.

With hot yoga, the elevated temperature is believed to increase flexibility and promote detoxification through excessive sweating. 

Advocates claim that the heat helps the body warm up quickly, allowing for deeper stretches and a more thorough release of toxins.

Although it can be beneficial for some, with claims of it increasing flexibility and increasing calorie burn, it might not cater to everyone, especially those with distinct medical conditions or heightened sensitivity to heat.

The practice was popularized by Bikram Choudhury in the 1970s, as he created a specific yoga routine practiced in conjunction with super hot temperatures. 

However, hot yoga has now taken on its own life, with many different schools experimenting with heat while distancing themselves from the Bikram influence.

group of people in a hot yoga class in twisted triangle

Differences To Bikram Yoga

Hot yoga is not to be confused with Bikram Yoga, albeit they are very similar. 

Hot yoga has definitely become a popular staple since the era of Bikram, despite the numerous sexual assault allegations against him. 

What defines the difference between the two is that Bikram Yoga consists of a fixed routine of 26 asanas in a 90-minute class. 

Hot yoga on the other hand has no prescriptive class format, is usually shorter, and is not necessarily as hot. Here are some other differences:

Bikram YogaHot Yoga
Studios tend to be carpeted, with lots of wall mirrors and bright lightingThe practice can be performed with dim lighting, even candles, and on any surface
Teachers need to be trained through the official Bikram affiliationThere is no system or group facilitating the practice, rather it is just a feature of a yoga class
There can be no music, whereas in hot yoga music can be a regular featureCan be less hot than Bikram Yoga
Students are not allowed to talk, whereas in hot yoga students can interact with the teacher and other people in the class
Always set at 40℃
hot yoga class in childs pose

When attending a hot yoga class, you’re best off wearing something light and comfortable. The more bare skin the better, for allowing yourself to sweat out and cool down.

So, what’s all the fuss about?

People all around the world absolutely love hot yoga and claim the high temperature creates a whole host of benefits for the body and mind. 

On the other hand, there are a lot of practitioners that say hot yoga can be potentially dangerous, and have adverse effects on the body.

So what are these effects, good and bad?

Hot Yoga Temperature: Effects On The Body

Benefits Of Hot Yoga

#1: Calorie Burn

The practice’s physical nature, along with the heated room, can lead to increased calorie burn as the body works hard to cope with the challenging postures and sequences. 

The heightened heart rate and continuous flow of movements in hot yoga could help burn additional calories and support overall fitness.

While hot yoga may lead to temporary water weight loss through sweating, the overall impact on weight management should be considered within a broader context. 

Sustainable weight management of course involves a balanced approach that includes regular exercise, a healthy diet, adequate hydration, and proper rest.

woman in crow pose on a yoga mat

#2: Increased Flexibility

Increased flexibility is one of the key benefits of practicing hot yoga.

The elevated temperature warms up the muscles, which can make them more pliable and easier to stretch. As the body becomes warmer, the tissues, ligaments, and tendons become more flexible, allowing practitioners to achieve deeper stretches and improve their flexibility.

When the muscles are warm, they are less resistant to lengthening, and this can lead to an increased range of motion in various yoga poses On top of this, the heat could provide a more relaxed environment for joint movement and minimize discomfort.

For many individuals, especially those who may be stiff or have limited flexibility, hot yoga can provide a unique opportunity to work on loosening tight muscles and alleviate stiffness. 

#3: Increase Circulation And Improves Cardiovascular Health

Hot yoga can significantly benefit cardiovascular health due to its impact on the heart rate and overall intensity of the practice. 

group of yogis in halfway lift

The physically demanding nature of hot yoga, combined with the heated environment, leads to an elevated heart rate as the body works harder to meet the increased demand for oxygen and energy. 

This elevation in heart rate and blood flow results in improved circulation throughout the body.

Consistent practice of hot yoga can lead to enhanced cardiovascular endurance, enabling practitioners to engage for longer periods without feeling tired. 

On top of this, the heart muscles get strengthened over time, allowing the heart to pump blood more efficiently, which could potentially reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems. 

#4: Release Endorphins And Stress Relief

Hot yoga offers significant benefits for stress relief and endorphin release, similar to other forms of yoga. 

Mindfulness and breath awareness are naturally central components of hot yoga, encouraging practitioners to be fully present and attentive to their bodies and breath during the practice. 

woman smiling in a yoga class

This focus helps reduce stress levels and promote a sense of calm and relaxation, but most likely immediately after the intense hot yoga session! 

As well as this, hot yoga practiced in a heated room has garnered attention for its potential to stimulate the release of endorphins – those natural “feel-good” hormones that contribute to a sense of euphoria and well-being. 

The combination of physical exertion and heat combined could trigger this release.

#5: Heightened Detoxification

The idea behind sweating and detoxification in hot yoga is based on the belief that the body eliminates toxins through the skin when we sweat. 

Advocates of hot yoga argue that the increased temperature in the room induces profuse sweating, which, in turn, helps in flushing out harmful substances from the body.

Sweating is a natural bodily response to regulate temperature and cool down when exposed to heat. The process involves the release of water and electrolytes (such as sodium, potassium, and chloride) through sweat glands in the skin. 

group of yogis in hot yoga

While sweat mainly consists of water and salts, it also contains trace amounts of certain substances that the body may consider waste products, such as urea, ammonia, and lactic acid.

Therefore, detoxifying through sweating in hot yoga could cleanse the skin, eliminate bodily waste products, and also supports kidney function.

Hot Yoga Temperature: Downsides Of Hot Yoga

#1: Overstretching

Overstretching in hot yoga, or any form of yoga, can pose several risks and dangers to practitioners. 

The heated environment in hot yoga may create a deceptive sense of increased flexibility, leading individuals to push their bodies beyond safe limits. 

This can result in muscle strains, tears, and joint injuries. Overstretching the spine can cause back problems, and nerves can become compressed, leading to tingling or numbness.

To practice hot yoga safely, it’s crucial to listen to one’s body, warm up properly, and follow alignment cues from experienced instructors. Informing the instructor about any existing injuries or medical conditions is crucial to receive appropriate modifications.

woman wiping her sweat with her hand

#2: Exhaustion Or Dehydration

Hot yoga carries inherent risks of dehydration and exhaustion due to the intense physical activity and high temperatures. The profuse sweating during the session can lead to significant fluid loss, potentially resulting in dehydration.

On top of this, the heated classes may hinder the body’s ability to regulate its temperature adequately, putting individuals at risk of heat exhaustion. 

Symptoms of heat exhaustion may include heavy sweating, weakness, nausea, and a rapid heartbeat. 

Furthermore, the loss of essential electrolytes through sweating can lead to imbalances, causing muscle cramps and weakness.

Staying hydrated throughout the class is essential, and practitioners should go at their own pace.

Further Information

We’d say that if you’re looking to use yoga as a tool for calorie burn and get a buzz – hot yoga would take precedence over more mundane forms of yoga. 

However if you’re looking for something of a more “extreme” experience within yoga but also something that aligns more with the spiritual principles, consider Iyengar Yoga, or Mysore Yoga

These practices don’t focus attention on the temperature of the room, but instead the quality of your pose and flow, and depth of your breathwork.

If you’ve enjoyed reading about what temperature is hot yoga & what is the impact of it on the body, why not check out our other articles:

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Born and raised in London, Luke is a passionate writer with a focus on travel, yoga, philosophy, and meditation. As a certified yoga teacher having studied under a swami in Rishikesh, Luke now lives in India pretty much just practising yoga, meditating and writing articles! Luke's life arc has gone from somewhat turbulent to peaceful, and he considers yoga and meditation direct methods to sustain introspective insight to manifest peace and happiness, despite life's challenges. Luke's passion for meditation has led him to complete multiple meditation retreats, where he spent almost 40 days in silence in the last two years. He practices various meditation techniques such as Vipassana, Anapana, and Metta Bhavana, each adding to his knowledge and experience of the true self. Most recently he meditated in Jaipur, India, and before that lived for a short spell in a monastery with forest monks in Northern Thailand. To Luke, yoga is more than just a physical exercise; it's a way of life that helps him cultivate a stronger mind-body connection. As a young man with arthritis, Luke understands the importance of observing and controlling his body, and yoga has been a vital tool in his journey to better health and well-being. The practice of yoga has not only helped him manage his symptoms but has also given him a new perspective on life. Luke's love for yoga and meditation is not limited to a single tradition or practice. He's fascinated by the spiritual teachings of all types of religious philosophy, including Buddhism, Hinduism, and Christianity for their essence and wisdom. His passion for spirituality is what drives him to continue learning and growing, and share his knowledge with other people. Luke in his spare time is an avid chess player, cyclist and record collector. He also has experience with addiction, and so sponsors multiple people from different walks of life in their recovery programmes.

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