The American Council on Exercise (ACE) recently released the results on a study titled “Hot Yoga: Go Ahead and Turn Up the Heat.” They measured heart rate and core temperatures between yogis taking normal yoga and yogis taking hot yoga.
Researchers found that there was a very marginal difference (56% in regular conditions vs. 57% in hot yoga) in heart rate, and core temperature levels from Bikram yogis averaged around 99.3 degrees and the highest reading was 102 degrees -- well below the bottom of the “critical zone” (104 degrees, in which heat-related problems and fatigue begin).
The hot yogis perspired a lot more and the normal yogis barely broke a sweat. On paper, both types of yoga measured are considered “light exercise” and very safe, as long as you drink plenty of water. This will keep you hydrated and proper hydration aids your body in keeping core temperature low.
Now that we know it’s totally safe, let’s look at some of the benefits hot yoga can bring:
- The heat warms the muscles, allowing you to stretch further into your poses, increasing range of motion and flexibility-Builds strength and muscle tone, and strengthens your core.
- Builds self-discipline: How many times have I been 60 minutes in a Bikram class and just wanted to grab everything and run towards the door? Every time. But sticking with it and never giving up makes me feel so much better about myself afterwards.
- The heat is said to boost the immune system and increase T-cell production (fights viruses and bacteria).
- You sweat. A LOT. Some yogic texts suggest cleansing the skin once a day by sweating for thirty minutes at least. Sweating is said to have a positive impact on weight loss and stress reduction.