I strongly believe that the practice of yoga is extremely beneficial not only to the body but also to the mind. Yoga changed my life so profoundly that I ditched a career in IT to dedicate my life to teach it and to train other teachers. I own Hatch Yoga, not because is a great business (if I wanted to make money I should have stayed in IT), but because it is my passion. My business could generate so much more profit if I only followed all the ridiculous current trends design to grab money from ingenuous students; like Yoga with goats or puppies, Yoga on a paddling board, Yoga and wine, Yoga and beer (I could write another whole article on the stupidity mixing alcohol and yoga); and the biggest of all, Hot Yoga. In this day and age, the obsession with thinness and dieting seems to surpass the one of main Yoga Principles, Ahimsa (do no harm).
Many of our teachers stopped teaching hot classes under medical advice. After years of being exposed to the extreme heat, they became chronically dehydrated and suffer kidney damage.
Our Studio offers moderate hot classes. While moderate hot yoga has its benefits, for some people practicing in extreme heat it can have some potentially serious drawbacks, and the alleged benefits are not true.
They are basically 3 false beliefs why people choose to practice hot yoga:
- Sweating detoxifies your body
This idea lacks any basis in science. Though some toxins are eliminated through perspiration, the vast majority are processed by the liver and eventually excreted through urine and stool, not sweat. If anything, exercising in extreme heat can damage your liver and kidneys and hinder the natural detoxification process.
- Sweating makes you lose weight
When you sweat, you lose water, NOT FAT. If anything, the extreme heat makes you exhausted an unable to work hard enough to strengthen muscle and tone the body.
Exercising in extreme heat can lead to dehydration and hyperthermia (elevated body temperature). And if you become very dehydrated and drink too much water afterward without consuming electrolytes, you run the risk of developing hyponatremia (low blood sodium levels), which can also cause such symptoms as nausea and muscle cramping, along with general malaise and even seizures.
When we exercise, our internal body temperature naturally goes up and our blood vessels open up to allow more blood to travel to the skin so we can sweat, which cools down our internal temperature. But when we exercise in a hot room, our bodies have a harder time cooling down. Your body’s normal processes are not going to be enough to overcome this external heat, essentially, you’ve kind of hacked this regular homeostasis [the equal balance] that our body tries to keep with the internal temperature. When the heat becomes difficult to bear it can lead to illness like heat exhaustion. This can happen when your body is not temperature regulating anymore and you become dehydrated.
Since your blood vessels have dilated during exercise, your blood pressure can drop as well. If that happens, your heart rate will go up as your body tries to pump blood to your organs to overcome the drop in blood pressure.
Working out in a hot room can throw off our body’s internal temperature, which can cause dehydration, and — in extreme cases — lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion include weakness, dizziness, and especially nausea. In really extreme circumstances, you could even develop something like a heat stroke and that could, worst-case scenario, land you in the emergency room.
- The extreme heat allows you to stretch more
With increased flexibility, hot yoga can make you prone to overstretching. Because the heat loosens the muscles, you could be in danger of over-extending your body and you could pull or strain a muscle. It’s not just our muscles that can be affected, tendons and ligaments can get hurt too. In a hot yoga class, you can get your muscles to stretch a little bit more than maybe you would in a regular yoga class. That’s because our muscles are very vascular, which means they have a good supply of arteries and veins, enabling blood nutrients to get to them easily. However, our tendons and ligaments are more “avascular,” which means they don’t get as much blood supply as our muscles. While we can stretch our muscles more deeply, our tendons and ligaments might not be as ready for some of that intense stretch. It might not be the muscle that you end up having a problem with in overstretching, but more so the other connective tissue like the tendons and ligaments.