Hot yoga encourages flexibility and healthy blood flow

Hot Yoga: Why You Should Turn Up the Heat

By: Mallory Hope

Looking to heat up your workout? Hot yoga is a new exercise trend that's got an almost cult following among yoga students. If doing the downward dog in 95-degree heat to add a little sweat to your yoga postures has you intrigued—but perhaps a bit uncertain—you certainly aren't alone.

But don't sweat it: this specialized yoga practice isn't as difficult as it sounds (beginners can do it), and it comes with a host of health benefits, which include encouraging flexibility and supporting healthy blood flow.

Here's everything you need to know about hot yoga.

What is hot yoga?

Generally speaking, hot yoga is any type of yoga in hot or humid conditions, typically practiced in a studio or room heated to 90-110 degrees Fahrenheit. There are a variety of different types of yoga that lend themselves well to heat, including vinyasa, ashtanga, and hatha yoga. Hot power yoga is also a popular style.

Bikram yoga is a hot yoga practice that lasts 90 minutes and includes a series of 26 specific poses. This yoga style is influenced by hatha yoga and pranayama, or breathwork.

What is the difference between hot yoga and regular yoga?

Yoga is traditionally practiced inside a studio or outdoors at a cooler, more comfortable, temperature. Hot yoga and Bikram are practiced in a heated room that keeps your muscles warmer, allowing your body to go deeper into stretches.

How long and how hot are yoga classes?

Most hot yoga classes range from 45-60 minutes, while Bikram yoga classes are always 90 minutes. Both Bikram and other hot yoga classes are held in a studio heated to 90-110 degrees F with 40-60% humidity.

Top 10 health benefits of hot yoga

Regular practice of yoga in a hot room can help support muscle strength, flexibility, stress management, a healthy weight, detoxification (thanks to the sweating) and discomfort relief.

The top 10 benefits of doing yoga in a heated room or studio include the following:

  1. Cardiovascular/arterial health

    . Studies show hot yoga supports cardiovascular and arterial health.
  2. Glucose

    . Hot yoga may help maintain healthy glucose levels in those looking to manage their weight.
  3. Sleep

    . There is solid evidence that getting any kind of regular exercise during the day can help you sleep better at night.
  4. Flexibility and range of motion

    . Performing yoga in a heated environment supports range of motion, flexibility and aerobic fitness.
  5. Strength

    . In a randomized controlled trial, hot yoga helped support strength and flexibility in participants.
  6. Mood

    . Hot yoga has a positive effect on mood. In a 2021 trial, Bikram yoga showed positive mood-boosting results similar to aerobic exercise, in part by helping individuals interrupt negative thinking.
  7. Intrinsic motivation

    . Attending a 90-minute hot yoga class helped increase self-reported competence in a study, and the more the participants went (up to 4 times per week), the better they felt about themselves.
  8. Stress management

    . Bikram yoga helps relieve everyday stress and supports healthy stress management. Bikram yoga appears to be beneficial for all practitioners, but even more so for individuals who struggle to manage their stress.
  9. Healthy eating and weight management

    . Thanks to yoga's role in helping manage stress and supporting healthy cortisol levels, it has been shown to inhibit stress-related eating.
  10. Bone health and bone density

    . Hot yoga may support bone mineral density in premenopausal women.

Can you practice hot yoga at home?

Most hot yoga classes are held in a hot yoga studio since the goal is to flow your body through postures in higher degrees. But there are some at-home, on-demand classes that are good for heated yoga practice. You can set up your home space with a small heater; just remember to follow the instructions and turn it off after your yoga session. Keep safety in mind. Sweating is a goal, but if you feel dizzy or lightheaded during class, please leave the room immediately and sit down. Keep your head above your heart.

How often should you do hot yoga?

Most students do an average of four yoga sessions a week. You can join in-studio classes or create your own heated space at your home and do an on-demand class online.

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Is it safe for beginners to take hot yoga or Bikram?

Yoga is safe for beginners. Most classes are multi-level. You should always read the class description first, in case it is an intermediate or advanced class. If you're new to yoga or hot yoga specifically, I suggest talking to the yoga instructor ahead of time. They should be able to assist you with your set up in class and provide safe modifications to postures, or asanas, during your class. If you are pregnant or have other health concerns, you should always talk with your healthcare provider before starting a new workout practice or nutritional plan.

How to prepare for hot yoga

  • Drink plenty of water ahead of time. It's suggested to drink slowly all day (at least 2 cups).
  • Bring a hand towel or yoga towel to use during your practice.
  • Find a non-slip yoga mat. I personally suggest the thicker 5mm yoga mats for comfort.
  • Skip the loose-fitting clothing. Wear clothes you can easily move and breathe in during a heated class. Try moisture-wicking workout fabric.
  • Yoga can be an intense workout. Remember to keep your mind centered on the moment.

What nutrients can support your hot yoga practice?

Blood flow, or circulation, is important for any physical activity, but it's especially so for hot yoga. So nutrients that encourage healthy blood flow and circulation may help. A supplement with a combination of ingredients to support vascular function may help your body maintain already-healthy blood pressure and inhibit inflammation to promote circulatory health.

These other nutrients might also help you prepare for yoga class:

  • Creatine

    supports overall exercise performance by maintaining healthy muscle function and energy metabolism.
  • Taurine

    is an amino acid that supports a healthy heart and brain, muscle mass and exercise performance.
  • Rhodiola

    is a stress-modulating adaptogen that promotes cellular energy metabolism, physical and mental performance, and more.
  • Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)

    help support exercise performance and muscle recovery.
  • Ashwagandha

    is an adaptogen that helps encourage reported well-being and energy levels.

Take this Heart Health Needs Quiz to identify what other vitamins and minerals could be beneficial to your wellness journey.

About the Author: Based in South Florida, Mallory Hope is a certified practitioner of yoga therapy, which enables yoga postures and yoga logic, breathing and meditation to create a unified mind/body connection and to facilitate the internal and external healing of the body. She is 200 Hour RYT, Yin Certified, Meditation Certified and Barre Certified. You can find her on Instagram at @malloryhopes.


Scientifically Reviewed By: Michael A. Smith, MD

By: Mallory Hope