This’s week’s article from Knixpert and holistic nutritionist Kailani King reveals the must-know of Hot Yoga.
The intensity, the sweatiness, the health benefits, the challenge! There are many reasons for why so many people love hot yoga. Most pro-hot yoga yogis will argue that practicing hot yoga is the most beneficial form of yoga as it boosts the metabolism, enhances the immune system, and eliminates toxins at a higher degree than non-heated yoga. Personally, I was a believer of this for years, until I did my own research and found that unless the knowledge of these benefits induces the placebo effect, there is physiologically little chance of these physical benefits being true. Here is why…
1. A heated room does not increase metabolismExercising, let alone just standing in a heated room, may increase the rate of sweating, but does not raise one’s metabolism. If anything, the hot temperature encourages the body to slow down, reducing metabolism as part of the temperature regulation mechanism. You may have experienced this concept in a hot environment like the tropics, a sauna or hot tub in that you become fatigued, relaxed and rather sleepy. Simply put, your exercise tolerance is reduced as the temperature increases.
What does boost your metabolism in a hot yoga class is moving those muscles of yours as it’s the level of physical activity, not the heat, that will determine the increase in energy burned. Therefore, if your goal is to get a great workout and burn some calories, you may want to avoid the hot yoga and go for regular, more vigorous forms of yoga such as power vinyasa flow.
2. Hot yoga does help eliminate toxins through sweat, but to a lesser degree than it gets credit for.
It’s true that being a sweaty mess in a hot yoga class helps to eliminate toxins through the skin but what we must remember is that the skin is only a single organ in the rather complicated and multifaceted detoxification process. What will significantly and holistically enhance the detoxification process is exercise (since all forms of exercise produce sweat and enhance the lymphatic system), healthy food like fruits and vegetables and avoidance of drugs that place a big strain on the liver.
3. Hot yoga does not enhance the immune system but may stimulate an immune response.
The popular claim that practicing yoga in a heated room enhances immunity is not true. If anything, the combination of the sweaty yogis and the heat creates a perfect breeding ground for microbes, increasing the chances of exposure to bacteria and viruses. In this sense, it could be argued that hot yoga stimulates the immune system via activation of the body’s immunologic response to foreign invaders and that this exposure my help to build the immune system if you aren’t already exposed to microbes on a regular basis. However, the reality is that unless you are overly hygienic and live in a sterilized box, your daily exposure to microbes is more enough to maintain a healthy stimulation of the immune system. Anymore stimulation and your immune system may not be able to keep up.
But hey, let’s give some credit to hot yoga!
I’m not arguing that hot yoga is a terrible form of exercise. After all, if the practice brings you exercise-induced endorphins, body composition improvements, joy and spiritual growth, then that’s amazing! And on a personal note, hot yoga was vital to my ability to adapt to practicing yoga here in hot climate of Central America, where I am teaching yoga. Luckily I have my Knix wear for those sweaty yoga classes! But what I will argue is that non-heated yoga is just as beneficial as hot yoga and arguably safer. This is because overheating and dehydration are huge dangers of hot yoga. Whether it’s hot yoga or any physical activity in a hot environment, it is crucial to maintain hydration and to watch for early danger signs of overheating and dehydration, including dizziness, headache, lightheadedness, mild nausea and muscle cramps. If you experience these signs, it is important to hydrate and cool the body immediately.
The take away message: keep it moving and do what you enjoy. If hot yoga is a part of your exercise routine (or you want it to be) then stick to it and embrace it! Anything that moves the body, enhances spirituality and mindfulness and keeps you happy is amazing for your health and wellbeing. What I want to emphasize is the importance of variety. Hot yoga can be apart of your routine but make sure that your routine is diverse and includes non-heated forms of yoga such vinyasa and hatha yoga as well as other forms of exercise like walking and team sports. After all, variation is key to the health and happiness we experience in our lives.