Is Hot Yoga Safe?

09-015779311It’s getting hot in herre!

And that’s exactly the case for hot yoga aficionados. For a hot-style yoga class, yogis endure temperatures of 90 – 105 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity levels above 40%. By the end of the session, participants are literally dripping in sweat – and it’s made many people wonder about safety. Does hot yoga result in dehydration, heat exhaustion or even heat stroke?

The American Council on Exercise (ACE) enlisted the help of the Department of Exercise and Sport Science at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse to get some answers.

For the June 2013 study, researchers recruited 20 healthy participants ages 19 – 44. After establishing baseline fitness levels, each participant swallowed a core body temperature sensor and then experienced a 60-minute yoga class at 70 degrees. Throughout the class, temperature readings, heart rate and perceived exertion levels were recorded.

Within 24 hours, participants then experienced a hot-style yoga class at 92 degrees and with more humidity. The same poses and same yoga instructor were used – and temperature, heart rate and exertion levels were again recorded.

Though the participants sweated much more during hot yoga, body temperature and heart rate levels remained the same. Though the participants’ vital signs were nearly the same, the hot yoga class was perceived to be more challenging. According to fitness guidelines, the intensity would still be categorized as light exercise.

The bottom line: Hot-style yoga is not dangerous. For heat-related complications to be imminent, internal body temperatures must exceed 104 degrees – and no participants came close to that threshold. However, participants must be mindful to stay hydrated before, during and after the class.

Have you ever tried hot yoga? Do you love it? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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  1. Charles says:

    Yes, love it. If it wasn’t so damned expensive, I’d do it all the time.

  2. Cameron Perrier says:

    I absolutely love hot yoga. I did once get a nosebleed during class, but I think I was tired/dehydrated and I’m prone to them anyways. However, hot yoga is a great way to get toxins out of the body, stretch a little deeper than usual and in the slower classes it’s great to feel so relaxed and content after. It takes the mental challenge of remaining focused during class to another level!
    My one tip for anyone fearing dehydration is add some electrolytes to your water, like a lemon wedge or a bit of gatorade. Whatever will help keep the balance during class. I even put a little bit of pomegranite juice in my water and it works!
    Davey Wavey what do you think?

  3. Scott Thomas says:

    Hello Davey,
    I did Bikram Yoga in New Haven for over a year. I lost 40 lbs, and was able to maintain that loss, even after I stopped. I am 47 & had a heart attack just before my 45th b-day. My cardiologist told me to be careful about over exertions, but that he would say that for any exercise program post heart attack, and that he thought that Bikram was an excellent way for me to get back into a healthy body and mind. It was! I loved it. It was only $99 per month in New Haven for unlimited sessions… so was very cost effective!

    • Scott Thomas says:

      Sorry… just to be clear…. I started Bikram 6 months after the heart attack, and would be still doing it if I did not blow out a knee skiing. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Chris C says:

    I heard the greatest risk with hot yoga, is that many places fail to have proper ventilation, which can result in unhealthy air. True or false?

  5. Yes I have done hot yoga. It was over summer 2012. It was my first yoga class and I did like it. Yes, after every session I was dripping in sweat, but had water for during and after.
    It was also a naked yoga ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Your bottom line neglects to include the fact that the study found that the yoga was “perceived to be more challenging”, but with no significant changes to vital signs. Either way, yoga seems to have benefits.