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By Letshego Zulu


Benefits and risks of hot yoga

It can be used to improve strength, flexibility, balance and posture.

Hot yoga is a type of yoga that is performed in a warm and heated studio. Traditional yoga practices are typically done at room temperature whereas hot yoga is performed in studios with temperatures as high as 30°C for a more intense and challenging workout.

What are it’s benefits?

Hot yoga can be used to build strength, flexibility, improve balance and one’s posture. It can also be very helpful for people trying to improve their general fitness or boost their weight loss. It also has benefits in terms of relaxation, stress relief, reduced anxiety and depressive symptoms, increased range of motion and even muscle recovery. There are also some postures in hot yoga that can burn belly fat.

Hot yoga benefits
Picture: iStock

What are the potential risks?

Hot yoga is suitable for beginners if they don’t have conditions that can be aggravated by high temperatures.

Although most people can perform this type of yoga, there is an increased risk of dehydration, heat exhaustion or heat stroke. People with pre-existing conditions such as cardiovascular disease, back pain, asthma and diabetes should consult a doctor before beginning a hot-yoga regime.

The heat can aggravate symptoms related to the pre-existing conditions and lead to a medical emergency. When you try out hot yoga for the first time, you need to also look out for side effects such as dizziness, light-headedness and the inability to take a deep breath in.

If this happens during a class, return to a stable position or leave the studio until you feel better. It’s important to stay hydrated and listen to your body. You may also feel a bit disoriented or even sleepy during or after a class.

This is most likely because your body has begun to cleanse itself as a result of the hot yoga class. The drowsiness and feeling of disorientation will disappear after a few classes, after your body has become stronger and used to the exercise.

Women doing yoga
Picture: iStock

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What to bring and what to do before a hot yoga practice

  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. The sustained heat and resultant sweat loss in a hot yoga class means that you’ll need to take in more water on the days you practise hot yoga. Drink at least a 500ml bottle of water an hour to two hours before you begin your hot yoga class.
  • Take a bottle of water as well into the class.
  • Bring a sweatproof mat.
  • Wear longer tights. Contrary to popular belief, you would think that wearing less is best but due to the sweating, you might want to wear longer tights to avoid slipping on your skin when you are in certain positions.
  • Bring a towel or two. This obviously depends on your individual amount of sweating. If you sweat a lot, you might want to bring extra towels. If you don’t, then one should be enough.
  • Make sure that you pee before your hot yoga class. Try and empty your bladder just before class to avoid having to leave the studio, cooling down and starting over again when you return to class.
  • Last but not least, remember to rehydrate after a hot yoga class, especially if you have lost a lot of fluid through sweat. Make sure you drink clean water or beverages that are high in electrolytes.

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