Benefits of Hot Yoga
Stretching when your muscles are warm — as you do in hot yoga — improves flexibility in your muscles and increases range of motion in your joints. A March 2013 study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that after 8 weeks, Bikram yoga participants had better flexibility in their shoulders, lower back, and hamstrings compared to the control group. Flexibility makes certain yoga poses easier to get into, especially ones that require deep stretching. Yoga also strengthens your muscles.
Greater Lung Capacity
Because yoga concentrates on breathing techniques and staying mindful of your breaths, you train your lungs to retain more air. Taking regular, deep breaths allows more oxygen to enter your bloodstream, keeps your lungs healthy and increases your lung capacity, which tends to decrease with age. Pranayama, a specific type of yoga breathing exercise, focuses on controlling your breath for a certain length of time. It involves abdominal, thoracic, and clavicular breathing that trains you to increase oxygen intake.
Better Bone Mass
Bone density naturally decreases as people age. For example, those who go through menopause lose up to 50 percent of their bone mass, about half of which is lost during the first 10 years after menopause begins. Over a 5-year period, premenopausal people who practiced Bikram yoga had increased bone density in their hips, lower back, and neck, according to a May 2014 study in Scientific Research. The study concluded that a heated environment reduced the effects of osteoporosis for women by improving circulation, respiration, and perspiration.
A standard yoga class can burn anywhere from 180 to 460 calories, depending on the intensity and duration of the class and how much you weigh. Colorado State University researchers found hot yoga practitioners were at the top of that range: Women burned around 330 calories during a 90-minute class, while men burned around 460 calories (due to being generally larger in size). You sweat a lot more in a hot studio, which means your body must work harder to regulate your temperature and your heart must circulate more blood. That means burning more calories than you would in a traditional yoga class without heat.
Helps Improve Depression Symptoms
Both yoga and meditation can help reduce symptoms from depression, per the American Psychological Association. Veterans who suffered from depression felt an overall improvement in their mood and depression after doing yoga for six weeks, according to a May-June 2018 study in Military Medicine. They did yoga, breathwork, and mediation once a week for 60 minutes. An August 2019 study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary and Medicine found an eight-week course of Bikram yoga reduced depression symptoms for middle-aged women, including self-judgment, pessimism, poor quality of life, and reduced cognitive function.
Regulates Blood Glucose Levels
Those with type 2 diabetes may benefit from yoga because it helps control blood sugar levels, according to an October 2013 study in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies. Researchers found that even a short-term (8-week) Bikram yoga regimen improved glucose tolerance for older adults that tended to have obesity.
Helps Manage Stress
Yoga encourages you to turn inward and create awareness of the outside factors that cause you stress. When you practice regularly, you’ll start to understand how the breathing techniques, stillness, and heat of the room help your body and mind relax. In an April 2017 study in the Journal of Mental Health, a 16-week program of hot yoga with physically sedentary adults improved mood and decreased stress levels after a single 90-minute session.
Boosts Heart Health
Working out in a hot room is no doubt a physical challenge. Your heart, lungs, and muscles work harder, thus giving your respiration, heart rate, and metabolism a boost. One April 2019 study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that one session of hot yoga gets your heart pumping at a similar rate as a brisk walk (3.5 mph).
Improves Skin Health
Increased sweat improves circulation and increases oxygen-rich blood to your skin cells, providing you with a post-yoga glow. Sweating from exercise can actually reverse signs of aging from a cellular level. The positive impact means your skin can produce more collagen and better hydration.