Hot yoga can support healthy weight loss in a myriad of ways beyond just the physical calorie burn. When combined with diet, hot yoga can be an effective tool for losing weight, toning muscle, increasing flexibility, improving cardiovascular health and promoting a positive self-image.
Risks of Obesity
Being overweight can lead to a slew of health problems including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, some forms of cancer and even depression. Extra body weight also creates more pressure on joints and bones leading to back pain and putting an overweight individual at risk for injury.
Beyond the negative health implications of obesity, there are also consequences to many popular weight loss methods. High impact physical activity is not always accessible to those who are overweight and can even lead to injury. Constant yo-yo dieting can lead to metabolic issues. And extreme dieting can cause you to lose muscle instead of fat.
People who are overweight can also struggle with personal self-esteem; which leads to elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol can lead to stress related eating, cause your body to convert calories into fat in the abdomen and lead to more dangerous weight gain.
Physical Benefits of Hot Yoga
In hot yoga, the room is typically heated to 90 to 105 degrees—which greatly increases the health benefits of the class. Class is vigorous and fast paced making it an ideal form of cardiovascular exercise. In an average hot yoga class, students burn between 500 and 1,000 calories.
The heat increases your pulse rate and metabolism, which contributes to the mega-calorie burn. The fast paced movement, coupled with breath awareness also helps increase your lung capacity and build cardiovascular strength. The high temperature also helps your muscles to be more flexible, which can help prevent muscle injury and increase mobility in the long term.
The heat also causes students to sweat, which leads to the release of toxins from their body. While releasing toxins may not lead to weigh loss, it can support overall health and improve your immune system.
In addition, students increase muscle mass and improve bone health through weight bearing yoga poses. Standing poses strengthen legs and core muscles, while sun salutations and arm balances help strengthen upper bodies. Increased muscle mass leads to weight loss.
Hot yoga can also help you cope better with the physical side effects of stress and promote healthy sleep, both of which are important for overall health.
Mental Benefits of Hot Yoga
Like all forms of yoga, hot yoga has amazing mental and spiritual benefits. Practicing yoga helps your mind find stillness and inner peace, which can lead to greater self love and self awareness. All these introspective practices provide hot yoga students with opportunities to examine themselves and to study their personal relationship with food. Students have reported a healthier relationship with food as well as a cessation of emotional eating. When you love yourself, you are more likely to stick to positive life habits such as healthy eating and regular exercise.
In addition, hot yoga is typically practiced at a studio and your classmates can become part of your support network for weight loss and healthy living.
What to Expect in a Hot Yoga Class
There are different styles of hot yoga. One of the most popular is Bikram Yoga, a type of hot yoga that uses the same 26 pose series in each class. Bikram is taught at specialized yoga studios throughout the world. Other forms of hot yoga are similar and follow through a series of postures each class.
At your first few hot yoga classes do not be surprised if you cannot perform the entire class. Hot yoga is one of the most challenging and demands forms of yoga. Class length can vary from 60 to 90 minutes and often it is a challenge to remain in the hot room the entire time. As you stick with your practice, your endurance and stamina will increase. Feel free to take breaks as you need them and know you can always return to your mat and your yoga practice.
Hot yoga will lead to steady weight loss; but do not expect to drop 50 pounds in two weeks. This type of weight loss is unhealthy; yoga weight loss is steady and driven by your body’s own metabolism and your hard work.
What to Bring to Hot Yoga
All hot yoga class are, in fact, hot. As such, you should be prepared to sweat. Most hot yoga teachers suggest hydrating throughout the day, drinking more than the suggested 8 cups of water a day. You should also drink a sports beverage enhanced with electrolytes before, during or after practice to ensure you do not become dehydrated and your electrolyte levels remain balanced.
Students should also bring along a non-skid towel to cover your yoga mat, a smaller towel for your hands and face and a change of clothes.
For attire, wear form fitting active wear that has sweat whisking ability. Baggy clothing made from cotton will continue to stretch as you sweat.
Before You Try Hot Yoga for Weight Loss
Before practicing hot yoga or any new exercise for weight loss, it is critical to consult with your physician. Since rooms are heated to a high temperature, individuals with uncontrolled high blood pressure and other medical conditions could be at risk.5