Hot or Not?

Recently hot yoga, or heated yoga, has hit the fitness scene like a major heat wave. Here in South Orange County it seems as though a “hot yoga” studio has appeared on almost every corner. So much so it has become difficult to find a studio offering non-heated or more traditional yoga classes. This has pushed a belief that hotter must be better. The benefits of yoga are countless from improved flexibility, strength, posture, and even stress reduction. These attributes have been known for centuries, but is hotter really better?

A study conducted by The American Council on Exercise compared the effects of heated vs. non- heated yoga. The results were clear … not much! They looked at two key points of interest- core body temperature and heart rate.  The participants did not burn more calories as a result of increasing their core temperature nor did they raise their maximum cardiovascular capacity by doing yoga in a heated room. The average heart rate was 56% for non-heated yoga and 57% for heated yoga.

Heated yoga does offer the practitioner a greater range of motion for obvious reasons- warm muscles respond with less discomfort while stretching. This can, however, give a false sense of flexibility causing overstretched tendons and pulled muscles. Practitioners may be inclined to push harder because their body awareness is decreased while battling the sensations of heat instead of mindfulness and alignment.

Hot yoga devotees praise the benefits of detoxification of the body during a hot practice. Detoxification of the body, however, does not occur through the skin. Our sweat consists of water, salt, and some trace minerals.  The bodies’ filtration systems, ie- detoxifiers, are the liver, kidneys and lymphatic system. We sweat simply to cool down ensuring that our body temperature does not go to dangerous levels. According to the ACE study, heated yoga in the range of 80-95 degrees did not appear to present any dangers for a healthy individual. There is no industry standard of heat levels, and practitioners with health issues should be cautious.

 A non- heated practice is a viable and effective form of exercise. Get your "burn" on naturally, and reap the benefits of a quality non-heated yoga practice at Align Pilates Center.