Is hot or cold yoga better for you?
Yogis will debate this for hours – is heated or room temperature yoga actually better for you? We did a bit of research so you can debate with some facts behind you. Here is what we found out…
Yoga, despite the temperature of the studio, has a number of health benefits, from better flexibility and balance, to lower stress levels, improved focus, and memory, stronger posture, and bones, greater lung capacity, relief from chronic pain as well as lowered blood pressure 1.
With heat comes sweat. And while research has yet to prove that sweating helps you “detox” (as this is done by the liver and kidneys), sweating will help improve your skin as it pushes out the impurities in your pores.
The heated room in hot yoga will also affect your muscles, making them more supple and able to stretch. When you’re warm, you’re more flexible, resulting in deeper stretches. The heat will also lead you to sweat more and has also been linked to increased calorie burn as your heart works harder to keep you cool. Having said that, the reason you sweat is to keep your core body temperature stable, so technically your body shouldn’t be “working harder” than with room temperature yoga.
With these benefits also comes some watch outs. Firstly, you can injure yourself with over-stretching. You might think you’re having an extra flexible day and take it a bit too far. It won’t be until later once you’ve cooled off (or even the following day) that you’ll feel that you have injured yourself. Secondly, heated yoga can be too much for some with high blood pressure2. Heated yoga is not recommended for anyone pregnant or with heart conditions.
Our recommendation? Don’t jump into a Bikram class early on it your yoga journey. Start with cold or room temperature yoga until you want to take it to the next level, and then try a mildly heated class, preferably in a similar yoga style and level that you’re used to.
Hot yoga isn’t for everyone - take note of how your body responds and feels both during and after class. For some, all it takes is one heated class and they are addicted. For others, the heat can be suffocating and takes away from the yoga experience. Remember, you need to remain focused and centered during your practice, so for some, that’s easier in a heated room and for others, it’s not.
SOURCES: 1. The Alternative Daily, March 4, 2014, “Hot vs. Cold Yoga…” https://www.thealternativedaily.com/hot-vs-cold-yoga-winner/ 2. Healthy Living, Kay Ireland, “Hot vs. Cold Yoga” https://healthyliving.azcentral.com/hot-yoga-vs-cold-yoga-6361.html