There is an increasing number of people who desire to improve their physical fitness levels or to lose weight successfully. Whether it is one or the other, hot yoga remains among the top exercises preferred by people keen on transforming their bodies. Of course, several other forms of exercise can be equally effective in losing weight. The hot yoga weight loss method has gained increasing popularity for its efficacy and because it is a low-impact and healthy option.
Even though it may sound easy, hot yoga is not for the faint of heart. Classes can last anywhere between 60 to 90 minutes in a room that is as hot as 105 degrees Fahrenheit but then once you get used to the conditions, you can be addicted to hot yoga. Besides, as long as one can see weight loss gains, all the hardships he/she had to endure tend to become a distant memory. That said, getting to lose weight and burn calories in hot yoga is dependent on many factors, which is why one ought to do it under the guidance of an expert.
What Is Hot Yoga?
Mention hot yoga and most people will straight away think of Bikram yoga, which is a style that was created in the 1970s by its pioneer, Bikram Choudhury. It is conducted in classes of 90 minutes in which students perform a series of 26 postures in a room whose temperature has been heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit. These classes are very intense to the point that Bikram himself referred to them as ‘torture chambers’ (12).
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How To Make The Most Of Weight Loss With Hot Yoga: The Basics
First of all, you need to understand that weight loss and fat loss are not the same things. Weight loss is about a number on the scale while fat loss means losing the adipose tissue. In essence, one can lose fat while body weight still increases as a result of gaining muscle mass (6).
There is a lot of sweating in this kind of workout leading to water loss from the body. That loss might be reflected on the scale at that time. However, as soon as you rehydrate, the pounds you thought you had lost come back again, making weight loss through hot yoga something that may take longer than other workouts.
The only way hot yoga benefits weight loss is through fat loss. Your body will be able to lose fat by burning more calories than what it takes in through your diet. Therefore, you ought to lower your calorie intake and increase your activity level to achieve fat loss. The more calories you cut out of your diet, the more fat you will lose, but you have to consult an expert on this first (11).
Types Of Hot Yoga
1. Bikram Yoga
This style of yoga was developed by Bikram Choudhury in the 1970s. Choudhury is also the founder of Bikram’s Yoga College of India. He came up with a 26 pose sequence which, according to him, could result in a healing of the body and mind. It is practised in a heated studio set at 105 degrees Fahrenheit because it allows students to be more flexible, sweat out toxins and get a cardiovascular workout (10).
Other than the Bikram hot yoga, there are several other types of hot yoga practised for weight loss. Basically, any yoga performed in a heated room can be labelled as hot yoga. The difference is in their efficiency to burn calories and achieve the desired results.
2. Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga
Baptiste power yoga is another type of hot yoga that can successfully help you burn calories. It was developed by Baron Baptiste, and it is more of a blend of several styles including Bikram, Iyengar and Ashtanga.
It is performed in a 90 degrees Fahrenheit room with challenging postures and sequences that increase the heart rate. Several other types of power yoga achieve the same results, but not all types get your heart rate up enough to burn calories and result in fat loss.
Ted Grand designed the Moksha hot yoga. This type uses the same sequence for each class, but there is no regulation on the poses that a teacher has to use. The Moksha yoga classes last 90 minutes, and they begin with a relaxation pose to centre the mind before the practice begins.
Moksha instructors are encouraged to design classes in a way that enables their students to develop strength and flexibility throughout the body. Moksha studios have variations, but they all focus on the use of green and eco-conscious building materials.
4. Hot Power Yoga
Hot power yoga refers to a broader type of yoga practice which does not have as many limits as the other types mentioned above. This type borrows a lot from the tradition-based Ashtanga style, but it does not specify a particular style or school of yoga (13).
This type of yoga can broadly cover classes that incorporate a blend of common principles such as the use of a Vinyasa flow to shift from one posture to another and heating the studio from anywhere between 85 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
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What Is Better For Weight Loss: Hot Yoga Or Running?
The more intense the exercise, the more calories will be burned, and the better the hot yoga everyday weight loss results. For example, sprinting burns more calories than jogging because it is more intensive. Similarly, jogging will burn more calories than walking. You will burn more calories depending on how long you practice, your fitness level, your current weight and even gender.
A 2014 study conducted by the Colorado State University’s lead researcher Brian Tracy established that on average, men burn 460 calories while women burn 330 calories per hot yoga class. There are Bikram practitioners who claim that 1,000 calories are burned per class, but such claims are not backed by research.
Typically, running ought to be better for weight loss, but the problem with running is that you get exhausted very quickly. In the long-run, hot yoga may be better because one can work on the entire body. If a part of the body is feeling weak, you change the pose and continue with your practice, but when it comes to running once you are exhausted, that’s it.
Whether you opt for hot yoga or running, the bottom line is that the results are dependent on a range of other external factors. Some of those things include your diet plan, the duration of your workout and the condition of your body.
Benefits Of Hot Yoga
It Makes You More Flexible
Hot yoga rooms have hot temperatures, and the humidity is also very high at around 40 to 60 percent. Such conditions make it easier for your muscles to stretch. Due to the steamy temperatures, the muscles can increase the range of their motion and stretch deeper within each pose because heat makes muscles more pliable (9).
It Burns Major Calories
Any movement which increases the rate of your heart helps burn calories, ultimately leading to weight loss. Hot yoga is among the most efficient ways of burning calories even if one is not running or jumping. Any fast-moving exercises added to the hot yoga class will, therefore lead to massive calorie burn.
Increased Detoxification And Circulation
Another advantage of the extreme temperatures in a hot yoga studio is that they make your heart pump faster. This is because the heart has to push more blood to the skin to cool the body. The more the heart pumps, the better the cardio workout as opposed to normal yoga in cooler temperatures (1).
Sweat is a natural part of the body’s detoxification process through which many internal impurities are gotten rid of. Sweating in such a heated environment, therefore helps boost circulation and improve overall cardiovascular functioning.
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Helpful In Stress Reduction
As much as regular yoga practised in air conditioning can help you relax, it is not as effective as hot yoga when it comes to stress reduction. The difference between regular yoga and hot yoga is that the heat will make you focus on your breathing more. Breathing deeper is often associated with relaxation and stress relief (16).
Ups Your Lung Capacity
Although you might have the notion that the stifling room conditions of hot yoga make it hard to breathe, the fact is that breathing exercises in such conditions actually help train your lungs to retain more air. Having deeper breaths forces your lungs to expand more than usual, and in the process, more oxygen is absorbed into the bloodstream and circulated to other body organs.
Builds Bone Density
Supporting your weight during a yoga pose is essential in building bone density. This is quite important, especially for premenopausal women and older adults whose bone density has declined with ageing.
The Downsides Of Hot Yoga
May Lead To Dehydration
Due to the extreme temperatures of a hot yoga studio, you should expect to be sweating out a lot of water. Because the body will be losing a lot of water, you will find yourself drinking ample water before, during and even after the class to compensate for the loss. Failure to do so will lead to dehydration, and the hot temperatures can cause fainting and muscle cramping (5).
The Risk Of Heat Exhaustion
It does not matter whether you have a clean bill of health or not; if your body cannot stand the heat in a hot yoga studio, then it might cause you problems. Your blood pressure may drop, and this will make you feel dizzy or nauseated.
May Lead To Injury
Since the warmer temperatures make your muscles more flexible, you might be tempted to overdo it. You may find yourself pushing your body too far in a pose, and unfortunately, you may not feel it until after the session. This may lead to further injury if you put the injured part under a lot of stress with other exercises (7).
It Is Not For Everybody
Hot yoga is recommended for generally healthy people. Pregnant women, people with a heart condition or those who suffer from cardiovascular disease are not encouraged to practice hot yoga. You should probably find a different exercise but if you find yourself in hot yoga camp, be sure to talk to your doctor first to find out if it is okay to proceed (14).
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Preparing Your Body For Hot Yoga
Hot yoga is not something that you do at any time as you please. Preparing your body for this class comes down to hydration. This means that about 24 hours before your hot yoga class, you ought to load up on fluids, especially the ones with electrolytes.
You can’t just eat and then head into a hot yoga class right away. If you had your meal just before yoga, let there be at least a two-hour window in between the meal and the class to allow for proper digestion to take place (4).
Comfort is paramount in hot yoga, as is the case with all other workouts. One of the things that cannot be taken for granted here is your outfit. You may want to wear clothes in which you will be comfortable sweating. Consider a sweat-wicking or breathable fabric because you will be sweating a lot.
Listen to what your body is saying. At the smallest indication that you are feeling dizzy, you should stop, load up on some water and take a rest. If it prolongs, call it a day and resume your practice only after your body regains perfect shape.
Guidelines To A Bikram Hot Yoga Diet Plan
A diet change is recommended to maximize the benefits of Bikram yoga. A diet suited for hot yoga will make you achieve results faster while maintaining good health. Take note that there is no specific Bikram yoga diet, but there are guidelines on what to eat before and after a Bikram hot yoga session. Such guidelines include:
- Consume several small light meals spread throughout the day as opposed to just three or two heavy ones.
- Be sure to include some form of protein and whole grains in your meals to help keep your energy levels up during the hot yoga practice.
- Try to minimize the consumption of fatty foods, caffeine, refined sugar and dairy products.
- Spicy foods and junk foods should also be avoided because digestion tends to change after practising hot yoga. Since such foods sit heavily in the stomach and are no longer enjoyable, their avoidance makes weight loss and calorie control a lot easier (2).
- The foods that are suitable to eat before a hot yoga class may vary from person to person. Some individuals may feel more energetic in a yoga class just after eating a small nutritious snack or fruit an hour before class while others are comfortable practising on an empty stomach or want to keep a bigger gap between their last meal and the yoga session. Take the first few yoga sessions to experiment what works best for your body.
- Since Bikram yoga tends to make practitioners ravenous, you ought to keep on hand some healthy energy boosters like bananas, vegetable juice or nuts for after class.
- In your early days of doing Bikram yoga, pay attention to the attunement of your body so that you can differentiate between actual hunger pangs and eating just because you are bored or for emotional reasons.
- There is a notion that Bikram and other forms of yoga work best on a vegetarian diet. This is not entirely true, but there are benefits of switching to leaner meats such as turkey or chicken as opposed to beef or pork.
- The ideal Bikram yoga diet plan should be made up of unprocessed meals that are devoid of harmful additives and other chemical compounds. Develop a habit of purchasing fresh organic produce with plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- Lastly, one of the most important elements of the Bikram yoga diet plan is water. It is recommended that your daily water intake ought to be at least two or three litres to hydrate your body and balance electrolyte levels.
Why Is Hot Yoga Bad For Weight Loss?
Is hot yoga really safe for you and for weight loss? Hot yoga contributes to some modest increases in strength, muscle control and a considerable improvement in balance. In most cases, there is also a slight drop in body weight. When one is in the Bikram studio, he/she feels like they are putting in a lot of work and then expects better hot yoga weight loss results. The loss of water through sweating gives a false sense that a lot is being achieved even when it is not the case (7).
Despite the increased heart rate as a result of the high temperatures and intense poses in a Bikram studio, the metabolic rate or amount of calories burned in a session are roughly equivalent to those of a person walking briskly. This means hot yoga weight loss and toning is not particularly different from other exercises.
Humidity should be maintained at 40 percent in hot yoga studios, but that is not always the case. If the humidity is not set right, the heart will be working more to cool you off, and you will be sweating out minerals like potassium and sodium. Sweating out those minerals and replacing them with water alone may lead to scary health risks.
Hot yoga weight loss is never an easy journey because one has to push the body beyond the limits in hot temperatures. All it takes is commitment and some endurance, but in the end, it is worth it because you will achieve your body goals in a short time. However, you have to remember that the results will be influenced by the type of hot yoga you practice, how many calories you consume, how hard you work during the class and an array of other lifestyle factors.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
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