The Benefits Of Hot Yoga

1. It makes you more flexible.

The temperatures are usually up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit, and the warmer room will make it easier for your muscles to stretch, says Jorianne Numbers, MS, an exercise physiologist at Northwestern Medicine. The steamy temps “allow you to increase their range of motion and stretch deeper within each pose,” since heat makes muscles more pliable, she explains.So, unlike stretching it out in a standard cool yoga studio, the heat will have you feeling like a pro and extending further than you thought you could.

2. It’s intense, in a good way.

As an added challenge, the heat in a hot yoga studio will make your heart pump way faster, because it needs to push more blood toward the skin in an effort to keep you feeling cool, says Numbers. And more heart-pumping means a better cardio workout than you'd get doing the same yoga sequence in a cooler setting.

3. It helps kick stress to the curb.

Okay, yeah, regular yoga practiced in air conditioning can help you chill out, but the heat’s an added bonus. “Usually, hot yoga makes you focus on your breathing more,” since it’s sweltering in those rooms, says Numbers. Plus, breathing deeper is key to relaxation and stress-relief.

4. It ups your lung capacity.

While you might think a stifling room makes it harder to breathe, the breathing exercises in hot yoga can actually help train your lungs to retain more air, says Numbers. Deeper breaths force them to expand more than usual, which allows for more oxygen to enter the bloodstream and reach other organs.

5. It burns major calories.

“Any kind of movement that increases your heart rate will help burn calories and promote weight loss,” says Numbers. And hot yoga is a pretty good calorie-torcher. Even though you’re not running and jumping around, again, that hot room gets the heart going.

One study from the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found women burned an average of 333 calories during 90-minute slow-moving, heated yoga session. Add a fast-moving Vinyasa practice to that mix (which made the Women's Health list of top calorie-burning exercises) and you'll really feel the burn (pun intended!).

6. It develops mental stamina.

Practicing yoga in a hot, humid environment is not easy. Period. However, the added layer of challenge is a great way for you to practice enduring. It can add an opportunity to focus and overcome hard things which are two skills that come with you off the yoga mat and back into the 'real world,’ says Turner.

7. It decreases sore muscles and stiff spots.

Practicing yoga in a cold or unheated room often means you’ll feel it the next day, says Turner. “After practicing in a heated environment, you are less likely to feel stiff and tight the next day as your body's muscles have been supported in opening and stretching throughout the practice,” she explains. In other words, there’s less recovery time.

8. It’s multi-sensory.

Whether you realize it or not, yoga is a multi-sensory practice, says Turner. By tuning into the warm air against your skin, the beads of sweat dripping down your body, and the different ways the air feels moving in and out of your lungs, you’re able to connect with your body and environment in new ways, she explains.

9. It releases feel-good hormones.

“While I don't subscribe to the notion that hot yoga is detoxifying your body, there is a definite psychological benefit that comes with a good sweat session,” says Turner. In fact, research shows that a sweaty workout increases the brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters (endorphins) and blood flow in your body which can boost your mood and decrease tension or stress.

How To Prepare For Hot Yoga

1. Come to class hydrated.

“Focus on getting in regular hydration the full day leading up to class, as opposed to chugging a liter of water right before,” says Turner. It can also help to add some electrolytes or a pinch of Himalayan sea salt to your water an hour or two before class to prep your body and avoid feeling depleted, she adds. In the same vein, if you eat before yoga, leave a two-hour window between the meal and the class for proper digestion, says Numbers.

2. Wear tight activewear.

Think leggings or biker shorts and a sports bra or tank top in active materials. Baggy cotton or hemp clothes will quickly get soaked and weigh you down making it difficult to move easily, so focus on wearing form-fitting clothing made of a moisture wicking fabric.

3. Bring yoga gear.

You should also bring a yoga mat, water bottle, small hand towel, and optional mat towel if you get extra sweaty, says Turner. If you don't have a mat towel (which is cut to the dimensions of a standard yoga mat), a beach towel will do just fine, she adds.

4. Arrive early to acclimate.

“Try to get to your studio at least 15 minutes before so you have a little bit of time in the room to acclimate before the class begins,” says Turner. From there, keep an open mind and let the instructor guide you. If you’re a beginner, Turner also suggests calling the studio in advance to see if they have a foundational class so you can familiarize yourself with the movement patterns and test out the heat.


Here are all the ways sweating it out can be beneficial to your physical and mental well-being.

Helps With Weight Loss

First and foremost, sweating is thought to boost weight loss. Yes, you may lose water weight during a session that will inevitably come right back, but because your body is working so hard to cool you down, you're also using energy and burning calories, which contributes to more permanent weight loss.

Increases Circulation

"Sweat primarily serves the function of cooling the body. As sweat evaporates from the skin, it takes heat with it, thus regulating your body temperature," explains Snyder. "Heat causes blood vessels to dilate (widen), leading to increased blood flow to the treated area. Moreover, sweating can have a positive impact on skin and circulation. Sweating can increase blood circulation, which is important for overall cardiovascular and tissue health."

Flushes Out Toxins

While the ability of sweat to simply detoxify the body is often debated, Axe explains that the skin can remove toxic compounds from the body. "We really do flush out certain toxins through our sweat," he says.

"Sweating serves to help detox and protect the body," echoes Snyder. "Salts, urea, and heavy metals are released through sweating." In fact, a 2012 study found that sweating plays an important role in expelling heavy metals like mercury, lead, cadmium, and arsenic from the body because they dissolve readily in water.1 However, Axe explains that sweat can't flush out all toxic compounds, so it's important to drink filtered water and follow a healthy diet in order to avoid other low-dose chemical threats.

Boosts Heart Health

Putting the body in a situation where it needs to cool itself down by sweating can get your heart pumping similar to a cardio workout. Additionally, Axe points out that sweating, whether it be from physical exercise or from sitting in a sauna environment, can reduce the risk of cardiovascular health problems. He cites a study published in 2015 that followed Finnish men for 20 years, finding that those who sweat in a sauna more frequently were less likely to develop a fatal disease over the course of the study.

Aids Muscle Recovery

Although a sweat session won't help you build muscle, it can aid in muscle recovery. "Sweating boosts circulation and helps flush out lactic acid," according to Axe. This can alleviate soreness and speed up the recovery process.3 "The heat generated during sweating may also provide relief for sore muscles and joints," adds Snyder. "Improved circulation delivers more oxygen and nutrients to the muscles, which can help with muscle repair and recovery."

Reduces Pain

Before reaching for a painkiller, consider diving into a good sweat sesh instead. "Sweating also may have a natural analgesic effect, helping to alleviate minor aches and pains," notes Snyder. "For individuals with chronic pain conditions, heat therapy can alleviate discomfort and improve mood by reducing the perception of pain. Chronic pain often takes a toll on mental health, and managing pain effectively can lead to better psychological outcome."

Increases Immunity

Axe explains that the skin is considered a vital part of the immune system, which makes sense considering it's often the first line of defense against everything you come in contact with each day. "Anybody fluids are part of this biological defense system, serving as a deterrent for germs to take hold," he says.

"Sweat contains antimicrobial peptides that have the potential to fight off bacteria, viruses, and fungi," adds Snyder. Additionally, human sweat contains a natural germ-killing protein called dermcidin, which can protect against strains of germs that cause diseases like MRSA and tuberculosis.

Produces Glowing Skin

Just as sweat can flush out certain toxins, it can also expel impurities like pollutants, dirt, and makeup embedded in the skin. It's thought to improve the tone, clarity, and texture of the skin and is known to improve circulation, which can benefit the skin as well.

Lifts the Mood

"Exercise induced sweating is linked to the release of endorphins, our body’s 'happy' hormones," says Snyder. "This can lead to improved mood and reduced stress levels." This can do wonders for your overall well-being.

While you certainly don't have to venture to an urban sweat lodge on a hot summer's day to experience the benefits of sweating, you can find a practice that works for you in order to get in on the feel-good effects of this natural bodily function. Just be sure to recover from any cardio workout or sweat session with plenty of water to keep your body hydrated.

Unclogs Pores

Contrary to popular belief, sweating can actually help improve acne. How? Well, sweating helps unclog pores. "It opens the pores, which can assist in clearing out dirt and oil," explains Snyder. When you sweat, your pores open up and allow all the dirt, oil, bacteria, and debris in your pores a way out—the caveat here is that you should shower/wash your face as soon as your sweat sesh ends so that bacteria doesn't end up right back into your pores.

Lowers Risk of Kidney Stones

You might think using the bathroom less might be a cause for concern, but when it comes to kidney stones, it's actually a good thing. Sweating = less peeing, so there's less chance for kidney stone-causing minerals to sit in the kidneys and urinary tract. And when you sweat, you drink more water, which means you also flush out these minerals. Who knew?