Yoga classes are tough enough as is, but hot yoga classes take things up another notch (maybe a few more notches). Instead of practicing the heart-pumping moves in a comfortable, air-conditioned room, you get to up the ante with 100-degree (plus) temperatures.
Now, perhaps you’re wondering why anyone would do this. After all, it can’t be a comfortable experience. The increased (not so comfy) temperature translates to more sweat but also a chance to build better muscle and flexibility. But – do these two things automatically mean you’ll lose weight?
Like losing weight in any workout regime, losing weight in a hot yoga class hinges on a couple of factors. A few of these factors are within your control, while others aren’t. We’re here to explain, so continue reading to learn more!
What Is Hot Yoga?
Hot yoga is any type of yoga performed in a heated room. Many people associate hot yoga with Bikram yoga, a type of yoga created by Bikram Choudhury in the 1970s. In this particular class, which is 90 minutes long, participants perform a rigorous series of 26 postures in a hot room heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, despite the common association between hot yoga in general and Bikram yoga, hot yoga can be any type of yoga performed in a heated space. Not all hot yoga classes are as vigorous as the next, so calorie burn varies between classes.
For example, consider yin or restorative yoga. If you practice these types of yoga in a heated room, your heart rate will probably rise. However, it probably won’t reach the range necessary for a calorie burn that will result in fat loss.
On the other hand, let’s consider Baptiste power yoga. This type of hot yoga is performed in 90-degree rooms and is designed to keep your body moving with numerous challenging postures and sequences that drive your heart rate up. In these classes, most people burn a considerable amount of calories, potentially resulting in fat loss.
Can Hot Yoga Get You In Shape?
The answer to this question technically has two answers – yes and no. Why? It depends on how you define “in shape.” Everybody is different: varying metabolic rates, fitness levels, ages, genders, etc. So, the answer to this question depends on a few things.
Consider these two highly sought-after goals: “weight loss” and “fat loss.” Contrary to popular belief, these two aren’t always the same thing. While you can use them interchangeably in some scenarios, this doesn’t apply to every case.
Weight loss refers to the numbers you see on the scale. For most people, these numbers fluctuate slightly every day, which is entirely normal. As you eat and drink, your body weight will fluctuate somewhat. If you define “in shape” as any type of weight loss, then absolutely, hot yoga will get you into shape.
Sweating profusely during a workout leads to water loss, so you might notice an immediate result on the scale right after your workout. Sweating excessively is the norm in hot yoga, so you’ll probably see a lower number on the scale immediately after your workout.
However, this weight loss likely isn’t permanent, as the pounds will return as you rehydrate (essential during and after exercise).
If you associate “in shape” with fat loss, the likelihood of you achieving the “in shape” goal is dependent on a few things. You’ve probably heard the saying, “you can’t outwork a bad diet.” For most folks, this statement rings true.
To lose body fat, you need to be in a calorie deficit. How do you achieve this? In order to maintain a calorie deficit, you have to burn more calories than you take in through your diet on a daily basis.
Generally, you’ll notice results when you lower your calorie intake and increase your activity level. Of course, you must be careful with doing so, as extremes can wreak havoc on your body. First and foremost, taking care of your body is essential, and part of doing that is following a healthy regime to reach your target.
Understanding weight loss versus fat loss is vital, especially when trying to get in shape. In specific exercise regimes, people may lose fat but gain muscle. In some cases, this can actually result in weight gain. While it is healthy weight gain associated with increased muscle mass, it can create an issue for those who tie an “in shape” physique to a lower number on the scale.
Of course, some folks may lose fat and gain muscle while simultaneously watching the number fall on the scale. It all depends on your scenario. Remember, the scale doesn’t always paint a clear picture.
How Many Calories Can You Burn In Hot Yoga?
We know that weight loss hinges on the number of calories you consume versus the number you burn. So, how many calories can you burn in the average hot yoga class? Ultimately, the calorie burn depends on a few things, including:
- Length of the class
- The amount of effort you put in
- Your current weight
- Your fitness level
- Your gender
Given the variability, offering an exact calorie count is tricky. Some practitioners boast you can burn up to 1,000 calories in a single Bikram hot yoga class. Unfortunately, this isn’t usually true, as science doesn’t support it.
Colorado State University conducted a study on this particular class in 2014. In this particular study, lead researcher Brian Tracy discovered that the calorie burn is much lower than the practitioner’s claims. In fact, women burned about 330 calories on average, while men burned 460 calories per Bikram class.
The variation in calorie burn can be attributed to the differences in body size between each sex.
So, based on this study, hot yoga (specifically Bikram yoga) can help burn fat, potentially resulting in weight loss. If your goal is to lose 1 to 2 pounds of fat per week, you’re well on your way to your goal. Most people need to be in a 500- to 1,000-calorie deficit to achieve this goal, so you’re well on your way.
Pros And Cons Of Hot Yoga
Like most activities, hot yoga features a few pros and cons. If you’re trying to decide whether hot yoga is a good fit for you and your goals, consider these aspects.
Pros Of Hot Yoga
Exercise is excellent for your body. Whether it’s something as simple as a stroll in the fresh air or an intense workout at the gym, exercise is good for you. A few upsides to practicing hot yoga include:
- Improves flexibility: Flexibility is a sticking point (no pun intended) for many folks. Hot yoga, or even yoga in general, is an excellent way to target your flexibility. The increased temperature in a hot yoga class makes it much easier for your muscles to stretch, allowing you to increase your range of motion and achieve deeper stretches.
- Lowers stress: Deep breathing is essential for relaxation and stress relief, and it happens to be an integral part of hot yoga classes. In these classes, the heat forces you to focus more on your breathing, usually triggering you to breathe long and deep.
- Improves lung capacity: Breathing in a hot, stifling room seems more challenging than in cooler air. However, breathing exercises in hot yoga actually train your lungs to retain more air, focusing on deep breathing that expands your lungs more than usual, allowing more oxygen to enter your bloodstream.
- Great calorie burn: As mentioned earlier, hot yoga can help you burn a considerable amount of calories (not as much as practitioners say, but still a lot). If fat loss is your goal, hot yoga can help you achieve your desired result.
Cons Of Hot Yoga
Although hot yoga (and most other exercises) are excellent for your body, you need to be careful. Without the proper precautions, you risk injuring yourself or compromising your health. So, it’s essential to understand the risks involved and prepare accordingly.
A few potential downsides of hot yoga include:
- Heat exhaustion: Practicing yoga in extreme heat can become hazardous for some people. If you can’t tolerate the heat in your yoga class, your blood pressure may drop as your body tries to contend with the heat, which can cause you to feel dizzy or nauseous. Pay attention to how you feel throughout the class – if you feel unwell, slow down or stop altogether. Focus on your breathing, cool off, and remember to stay hydrated.
- Dehydration: Most people sweat profusely in a hot yoga class, which can lead to dehydration. Extreme dehydration can be serious, so staying hydrated and paying attention to your body is essential. You may be dehydrated if you feel faint or nauseous or notice muscle cramping. Staying properly hydrated will help you avoid these problems, so make sure you drink plenty of water.
- Injury: In any exercise regime, injury is always a potential risk. Hot yoga is no different – your muscles are usually more flexible in the heat. You may accidentally push yourself too far, stressing a muscle too much. In some cases, you may not notice the injury until after the class. So, listen to your body and don’t overexert yourself.