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Hot Yoga for Weight Loss Warning

Tim Boyer's picture
Yoga for weight loss

Engaging in hot yoga is a great way to up the intensity of your workouts for weight loss. However, a recent study reveals that some precautions should be followed whether you are a yoga adept or a novice to this kind of calorie burning exercise.


Prevention writer Victoria Wolk tells readers that health experts still question the safety of exercising under sauna-like conditions within a room that has its temperature set at 105 degrees Fahrenheit and 40% humidity - a typical environmental setting for Bikram yoga practitioners.

In an earlier study addressing this question, researchers from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse found that when participants exercised for two 60-minute sessions under both 70 degree F conditions and 90-95 degree F conditions with 35-40% humidity, that their core body temps did not differ and only rose to a safe 99 degrees F.

However, in a more recent study that placed participants under more extreme heat conditions - such as those experienced with Bikram yoga - the researchers found that depending on the yoga pose used, heart rates rose and fell while their core body temps continued to rise to just above 103 degrees F after 90 minutes of exercise. A core temp of 104 degrees F is considered the cut-off point where a person may begin to experience symptoms of heat exhaustion and possibly heat stroke.

While none of the study participants came down with heat-related illness, ACE chief science officer Cedric Bryant, PhD, who oversaw the study, points out that the participants were regular Bikram yoga practitioners and not novices to the demands of this level of exercise.

"Their bodies were already acclimated to the heat and humidity. If you're just starting out, it's going to take 4 of 5 sessions for your body to adjust," Ms. Wolk quotes Dr. Bryant.

For more about the study, here is a video offered by ACEFitness.Org.

Hot Bikram Yoga Safety Tips

For those who want to try out Hot Bikram style yoga, here are a few recommendations to ensure a safe exercise session:

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Maintain proper hydration before, during, and after a Bikram yoga session by drinking 16 to 20 ounces of water about an hour before class, and another 16 to 20 ounces afterwards.

Monitor your pee color for signs of dehydration. If your urine color is apple juice-like, then you are dehydrated. If it is more of a lemonade yellow color, then you are good to go.

Listen to your body for signs of oncoming heat exhaustion. If you find yourself experiencing weakness or symptoms such as a rapid pulse, low blood pressure, fatigue, dizziness, a headache, pale clammy skin and/or profuse sweating, then it is time to stop exercising immediately and go lie down in a cool ventilated spot with your feet up while drinking plenty of water.

If you find that Hot Bikram is not for you, here is another type of gentler yoga that is good for aiding weight loss.


Prevention― “The #1 Mistake You're Making With Hot Yoga” by Victoria Wolk

ACE Fitness― “ACE Study Examines Effects of Bikram Yoga on Core Body Temps

The Gundersen Medical Journal Vol. 8, Issue 2; “Heart Rate and Core Temperature Responses During Basic Yoga Compared with Those During Hot Yoga”; Ashley N. Yereng, MS; John P. Porcari, PhD, RCEP, FAACVPR, FACSM; Clayton Camic, PhD; Cordial Gillette, PhD; Carl Foster, PhD, FACSM, FAACVPR



I did this once. I got very ill the next day. Not mentioned, but it's worth noting, is that you're in a hot room with others in close proximity - as a nurse I think it's a virus and bacteria breeding/spreading ground. I got the flu! I think it's worse than airplane warnings. I'd like so know if infectious disease experts would agree.