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Does Hot Yoga Burn More Calories?

It’s apparent there’s a lot of misleading information regarding what Hot Yoga can do for the body.

As always, I wanted to do a deep dive into the claims and find some credible information to support or oppose what’s often alleged.

What I found is that it does less of what most people think but has some health benefits undoubtedly worth exploring. 

Hot Yoga the myths…

Hot yoga removes toxins

You often read that Hot Yoga or the steam room help to “sweat out toxins”. The truth is that we have an incredibly useful, natural detoxifying system — the liver.

This organ is a formation of stable cells and receives blood from all over the body for processing and purification. It also makes bile, which is used to break down fats in the digestive process.

Actually, the majority of what you sweat out is water and salts, leading to dehydration. It’s a common practice for some to go to the sauna after a heavy night of consuming alcohol – in the hopes of perspiring toxins. There may be evidence of minute amounts of toxins in sweat. However, as far as hangovers go, the worst thing you can do is dehydrate your body further. Apparently, those salty crisps we crave are because of the lack of sodium in our blood and fluids coupled with the desire for quick carbs.

Hot Yoga Makes You More Flexible

Hot yoga can help with flexibility, but only at the moment; it doesn’t necessarily affect how flexible you are afterwards.

According to research, the higher temperatures raise your metabolic rate, warming your tissues faster, allowing you to move into a deeper stretch.

The issue here is; as it’s easier to obtain a deeper stretch, you could potentially go beyond your muscles’ natural lengthening, which could lead to overstretching.

Overstretching lengthens your ligaments and tendons and, since they don’t have much elasticity, they don’t recoil well afterwards.

When a muscle and tendon is under stress – as in stretch – it can enter the plastic region – a term I’d never heard before.

The ‘plastic region’ is between the yield point (maximum elasticity) to the ultimate failure point, which is a complete tear, aka trauma.

When you stay within the elastic region, the tissue can return to its standard length, avoiding injury but still working the muscles.

Over time, the muscles and ligaments will lengthen with yoga and strength will increase.

It burns more calories

There’s little evidence that suggests that hot yoga burns more calories than regular exercise. 

In a 2014 study, they found that the number of calories burned during a single 90-minute session was around the same number of calories you’d burn through a brisk walk for the same amount of time.

On a positive note; it is around 50 per cent more than what people burn in a typical yoga class! 

They expected to see a larger calorie-burn as heart rates peaked above 150 beats per minute during the toughest parts of the session. What they discovered was that it was the body’s response to the heat rather than the exertion.

The health claims

Multiple studies have been carried out to report if yoga improves our health. The results showed that hot yoga could be beneficial for heart and brain health.

In 2011 a study of 51 adults, people reported less stress after doing Bikram Yoga. A 2016 review found that raising body temperature might ease symptoms of depression.

In summary

Research suggests that hot yoga is probably safe for the majority of people and has shown to improve overall strength and balance.However, it is advised for some to take caution.

Hot yoga can cause dehydration and heat exhaustion if the person is insufficiently hydrated.

Those with preexisting conditions — such as low blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, back pain, asthma, and diabetes — should consult a doctor before trying a hot yoga class.

Modifying some yoga poses during pregnancy is standard practice. However, hot yoga can be problematic for some, as the rise in temperature can be dangerous to the fetus.

Of course, yoga is beneficial, but if you do practise hot yoga or sweat profusely, make sure you drink lots of water to replenish your losses. Electrolyte-enhanced drinks or sports drinks assist in replacing the minerals lost in sweat and reduced dehydration.