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What Is Hot Yoga? 4 Benefits Of Sweating it Out

The benefits of hot yoga will have you hooked on this healthy form of exercise.

There's something to be said about the mind-body connection you form when practicing yoga. It can be an incredibly soothing—yet invigorating—practice that helps you focus on your breathing as you flow through each move. But the best part about this type of exercise? It never gets mundane. There are many different types of yoga you can do, including—but not limited to—restorative yoga, vinyasa yoga, yin yoga, aerial yoga, and hot yoga. If you're new to the hot yoga scene, for instance, let's just say you'll want to be prepared with a water bottle, and get ready to sweat! There are so many benefits to sweating through a hot yoga workout, and people who try it are typically hooked.

Eat This, Not That! spoke with a fitness pro, Tyler Read, the founder of and a personal trainer who's been involved in the health and fitness world for the past 15 years, and turned to science to learn everything about this very hot (pun intended), popular practice. Keep reading to learn more about hot yoga and its incredible benefits. When you're finished, be sure to check out The Only 5 Yoga Exercises You Need To Shrink Your Belly.

What is hot yoga?

woman close-up in hot yoga class

When you sign up for a hot yoga class, expect to perform yoga exercises and deep breathing techniques in a heated, humid room. The temperature typically varies and can reach around 105 degrees Fahrenheit. "Hot yoga can follow various different flows, depending on the specific school, but it is always characterized by the very high-temperature room," Read explains.

The very first yoga studio that utilized heat dates all the way back to the 1970s in Japan, according to Yoga International. Bikram Choudhury taught yoga there at the time and was apparently curious about the sauna breaks his students took during lunch. This inspired him to start incorporating heaters into his yoga practices.

While hot yoga is associated with numerous benefits, it's necessary to listen to your body and make sure you drink plenty of water. "If someone is new to hot yoga, it's a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional before starting, especially if they have any underlying health conditions," Read stresses.

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The benefits of hot yoga:

hot yoga class

1. Increased flexibility

By doing some hot yoga, you may boost your flexibility. "Heat helps to loosen and relax the muscles, which can make it easier to stretch and achieve a greater range of motion," Read explains. In fact, research associates heat therapy with an increased range of motion; it can also enhance how effective a certain stretch is.

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2. Weight loss

If you're looking to lose weight, hot yoga may be an excellent addition to your fitness routine—science says so! Research published in the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine studied 50 overweight young and middle-aged women who were part of yoga clubs. Their physiological functions and psychological adaptions were observed before and after one whole year of doing hot yoga. The study determined that hot yoga is an effective method for enhancing your body shape and lowering your weight.

"Hot yoga classes can be intense, and the added element of heat can increase the metabolic rate. This means participants can burn more calories during a hot yoga session compared to a non-heated class," Read explains. "Additionally, the practice can help in building lean muscle mass."

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3. Enhanced lung capacity and respiratory function

Remember: Yoga involves various breathing techniques and being mindful of how you breathe during the practice. According to the American Lung Association, breathing exercises can make your lungs work more efficiently.

"The breathing exercises practiced in hot yoga, combined with the heat, can help expand lung capacity and improve respiratory function," Read tells us. "This can be beneficial for overall cardiovascular health and endurance." Science confirms this. According to research published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, individuals who performed Bikram yoga during an eight-week trial experienced increased aerobic capacity.

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4. Stress reduction

Engaging in hot yoga is a stellar way to kick stress and anxiety to the curb. "Like all forms of yoga, hot yoga can be a powerful tool for stress relief," Read says. "The focus on breath, movement, and mindfulness can help practitioners to calm the mind and reduce anxiety."

Research backs this up. According to a 2022 study published in Psychosocial Intervention, individuals who engaged in hot yoga for six weeks boosted their overall well-being. These "improvements" consisted of general health, life satisfaction, mindfulness, and peace of mind. Science also associates yoga with improved resilience to stress in the workplace, along with better stress management skills.

Alexa Mellardo
Alexa is the Mind + Body Deputy Editor of Eat This, Not That!, overseeing the M+B channel and delivering compelling fitness, wellness, and self-care topics to readers. Read more about Alexa
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