Hot yoga refers to many yoga styles practiced in a room heated between 95-115 degrees Fahrenheit, with up to 60% humidity. There are many advantages to incorporating hot yoga into yoga practice, but it is important to know that the extra heat and humidity create additional safety concerns. Primary risks include dehydration, heat exhaustion, and an increased risk of injury over and above other yoga styles.
Symptoms for dehydration and heat exhaustion are similar, including: dry mouth, headache, nausea, muscle cramps and twitching, weakness, and dizziness. Slips and falls are also more likely to occur during hot yoga practice. These happen because of increased muscle weakness, or from additional moisture build-up on your yoga mat.
That being said, the benefits of hot yoga practice are quite remarkable. Increased sweating filters waste out through the skin, cleansing your body and getting rid of toxins. This often translates into an immediate improvement in your skin’s appearance. When practiced properly, hot yoga also promotes increased flexibility of joints and muscles, and is even associated with increased stress relief and ability to concentrate, over and above a regular yoga practice.
How can you create the most positive hot yoga experience? Bring lots of water and at least one large absorbent towel, make sure to advise your instructor that you are new to hot yoga practice, and as always, take things slowly and remember that yoga is about listening to and doing what is right for your body.