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Yoga Gets Hotter (Like 110 Degrees), Or the Sweat Obsession and the Detox Myth

in YD News

Let’s just boil it all down. People are obsessed, obsessed with sweat. A recent New York Times article (sans WJB) takes a look at the hot trend, literally, and asks the burning question: what gives, heat misers? Heated classes from yoga to spinning to crazy mash-ups of ballet, vinyasa and weightlifting are popping up all over Manhattan (and LA).

According to the article, fitness fanatics with disposable income are spending top dollar to sweat their brains out in classes that make Bikram‘s 105 degree heat feel like a stroll through a cool spring breeze.

A small but growing upscale clientele, most conditioned to years of regular workouts, won’t leave the locker room for much below 90 degrees. (Typical gyms are 68 to 72 degrees, in line with American College of Sports Medicine guidelines; Manhattan’s hottest recorded outdoor temperature is 106.)

We’ve seen the rise of hot yoga in recent years, and we get that there are some benefits to heated rooms: more pliable muscles, the feeling of a good sweat and the challenge of doing the same work, but being really freaking hot while doing it. But this is getting extreme. Like, holy mother of hell, 110 degrees extreme, and it all seems to be for the pure psychological boost and time saving.

Says Alexandra Cohen, 42, the supervising producer of “The View,”

“I don’t have time for hours in the gym doing cardio and weights and then sitting in the steam room to detox.”

“A good day is when I have to literally wring my clothes out,” she said. “Some people do crazy cleanses. I do hot-room workouts.” She mused: “I tell you, your body adjusts. I probably need to make it harder at this point.”

Bikram was too slow for Ms. Cohen and hot power yoga was too easy, so she took up Carlos Rodriguez’s beat your asana combo of the Brazilian martial art capoeira, power vinyasas, calisthenics and weights. All this in an hour. Essentially, warming up is just a waste of time when walking straight into the fires of workout hell.

“I’m the crazy girl who gets there early just to get the spot under the heating vent,” said Karin Wilk, 45, an M.B.A. student in New York who takes hot classes exclusively. “I feel like it totally pushes me to the edge, and nothing else can bother me the rest of the day after surviving hell.”

Cool. Tapas! But is hell safe and does it really work you any harder?

Douglas Casa, a kinesiology professor at the University of Connecticut and an expert on athletic exertion in heat, said that while there’s no question that hot workouts are harder, any benefits peak at about 100 degrees. “Above that, you’re just jeopardizing safety,” said Dr. Casa, who is also the chief operating officer of the university’s Korey Stringer Institute, named for the Minnesota Vikings offensive lineman who died of heat stroke in 2001.

The trainer Tracy Anderson, whose clients have included Gwyneth Paltrow and, at one point, Madonna, said her research put the sweet spot for safety but “a muscle state that promotes change” at 86 degrees and 65 percent humidity. Dr. Casa judged that that was about right, “at least for sweat effect.”

Right, but all that sopping sweat is totally detoxing your body right? Not exactly.*

“That’s a hoax,” [Casa] said. “I don’t think there’s any inherent advantage to sweating more. Some people just like the feeling.”

And it’s probably just dehydrating you.

Still, the need to feel like you’re vinyasa-ing through the Sahara Desert or the soupy thick humidity of equatorial jungle tropics is on the rise (and so is coconut water stock, we imagine. hydrate!). It’s a real bummer though, because we were just about to launch our Tundra Yoga fundraising campaign on kickstarter. It’s a combination of yoga, figure skating and ice fishing. The world may never know the incredible benefits of iglookatasana.

Hint: if you’re looking to detox, take a look at what’s doing the ‘toxing. Twist. Rinse. Rest. Repeat.

Detoxifying the sweat detoxing claim, by request. Food for thought:

Businessweek – Sweat Lodges, Steam Rooms Aren’t for Detox:

Though the main component of sweat is water, sweat does contain small amounts of dissolved minerals and trace elements, including sodium, lactate, urea, potassium, calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper, nickel, iron, chromium — none of which are considered toxic, [Dr. Rachel Vreeman, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine] said.

When you sweat, the major thing you lose is water — something your body can’t survive long without.

“The term ‘detoxify’ is used so often that it makes people think that special steps need to be taken so ‘detoxifying’ happens,” Vreeman said. “It leads to people not trusting their bodies. Your body, however, does not need special cleansing efforts. What it does need is for you to get enough fluids and to eat a healthy, balanced diet.”

That’s not to say sweating, or spending time in a sauna, has been proven to have no health benefits.

About.com - Sweating out the toxins:

The function of sweat is to cool your body down when it is overheated. This can happen during a vigorous exercise session (such as hot yoga) or by 9 a.m. on an August morning in the Bayou City. The cause of the sweat does not significantly affect its content, which is primarily water with traces of minerals, though not enough to merit the term detoxification.

LATimes.com - You sweat, but toxins likely stay:

The bottom line: Sweat does contain trace amounts of toxins, says Dr. Dee Anna Glaser, a professor of dermatology at St. Louis University and founding member of the International Hyperhidrosis Society, a medical group dedicated to the study and treatment of heavy sweating.

But, Glaser, adds, in the big picture, sweat has only one function: Cooling you down when you overheat. “Sweating for the sake of sweating has no benefits,” she says. “Sweating heavily is not going to release a lot of toxins.”

CNN.com  - Should you work out when you’re sick?:

[Dr. Rick Kellerman of the American Academy of Family Physicians] said it is a myth that you can sweat out germs and toxins. He acknowledges that “low levels of exercise increase endorphins and benefit the body, but an intense workout that creates high levels of endorphins can wear down the immune system.”

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Earlier

40 comments… add one

  • my teachers in India laugh about this.

    and I’m thinking all those hot yoga class “yogis” will be the first ones to start whining about the heat and humidity if they ever went to India — because there it lasts ALL DAY…not 90 minutes.

  • Nikki

    ^LIKE. :)

  • simply yoga

    Like cubed.

    We really don’t need reams of documentation for our brains to tell to understand torture of others (under the guise of health) or self-torture (under the guise of following a sick trend) is pure ignorance.

    Seriously, you know what I say? Let those fools boil their already boiled brains down to mush. Have at it! It’ll thin the herd.

  • J

    I was present once when Krishna Pattabhi Jois was asked about Bikram yoga.

    His response? A long pause. Then: “This in NOT Tapas.”

  • David

    It’s a myth because why? He said so?

    The YD article title throws out some read meat with the word “myth” but there is nothing to back the claim other than one guy’s unsubstantiated statent.

    I’d day that is cutting the line a little close YD! I love your overall “let’s not take ourselves too seriously” approach to all things yoga, but making a salacious claim and then not backing it falls a bit short of the mark.

  • Pavanatanaya

    The presumption is that Heated rooms are inherently better for the practitioner. Bikram sold a bill of goods to an ego driven society and someone believed THAT, With absolutely zero science to back his claims, but tell me again what a salacious claim is? Yogadork is a clear look through the unfiltered telescope. Thanks YD.

  • David

    Well, you presumed to add things to my origional point that I made no mention of. I claimed nothing about Bikram or the possible impact of a heated room relative to a physical practice, such as yoga.

    My point was that YD (whom I love to read and will continue to do so) used the words “detox myth” with no qualifiers and nowhere in the article was the “myth” debunked. The “exper,” who’s qualifications and bona fides were presented, was quoted with no backing statement nor cited reason for WHY sweating doesn’t have a detoxing effect.

    If you think I’m backing the “myth” either way then you areas sing my point. I am mearly pointing to what, in my opinion, is sloppy editorial practice: salacious claims with circular logic provided as fact cheapen the dialog and resulting debates.

  • Pavanatanaya

    Ummm David, :My point was that YD (whom I love to read and will continue to do so) used the words “detox myth” with no qualifiers and nowhere in the article was the “myth” debunked. The “exper,” who’s qualifications and bona fides were presented, was quoted with no backing statement nor cited reason for WHY sweating doesn’t have a detoxing effect.
    Yogadork didnt claim to be debunking a myth, but a UConn kinesiology professor, Dr Casa, did. But, What would he know?

  • simply yoga

    Exactly. This is a blog. I don’t think YD is writing a thesis on hot yoga. It’s simply common sense. I’d like to see the scientific evidence that anything this sickening is good for the human body. That’s what’s important here.

    No one is paying YD to pound yoga in a sweat lodge. The people who are charging money for this, and promoting it, are solely responsible for explaining exactly why this is a necessary and beneficial practice.

  • David

    Let’s look at the expert’s statement: it’s a hoax because I think that is so.

    No data, references or reasons are given. It is so because he thinks so.

    Now, he may have data to back his assertion, but nothing is given. And THAT is the point I am making. I’m not claiming anything about heat and yoga practice. I’m saying circular logic wins no rational arguments. And, as YD is a blogger and not a journalist, i am calling her on something that I personally find lacking in her editorial process; a certain inconsistency that I have an opinion about.

  • abbylou

    David,

    Take a “chill pill!”

  • Sam

    David,

    The myth is that we detox through sweating. The truth is that we detox through our kidneys. Therefore, we don’t need hot yoga for detoxing.

  • Jen

    http://articles.latimes.com/2008/jan/28/health/he-skeptic28

    This article doesn’t talk about hot yoga, but it does explain some of the facts about detoxing and how it’s not done through sweating.

    Love,
    A power vinyasa yogi who will try to bite her tongue next time her instructors mention “detoxing” in her sweaty classes!

  • Jen
  • http://www.sensiblesweat.com Coming Soon. Until then, read the work in progress at http://www.evoyoga.com/page/sensible-sweat
    Feedback welcome.

  • Kala

    I think actually YD gave a number of references to back up the claim that sweating does not necessarily = detox. So I think ‘unsubstantiated’ is a bit unfair. Did you read the article to the end?

  • BeaNs

    Well, let’s try some actual medical articles that are indexed in Medline. I searched PubMed for the word detox, with no qualifiers, so it would search all searchable fields. I got over 200 hits, most of them talking about clinical substance abuse detoxification. I paged through the results back to 2007 and these are the ones that are relevant to the topic at hand. The most favorable is the last one, which is an Australian Family Practice journal, and it is inconclusive at best.

    The dubious practice of detox. Internal cleansing may empty your wallet, but is it good for your health? http://harvardpartnersinternational.staywellsolutionsonline.com/HealthNewsLetters/69,W0508a
    PMID: 18700288 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

    I’ve heard celebrities and others talk about detox diets. What are they, and do they have any health benefits? Mayo Clin Womens Healthsource. 2009 Jul;13(7):8. PMID: 19498332 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

    Do you really need to ‘detox’ your colon? Consum Rep. 2009 Jun;74(6):13. PMID: 19459230 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE] http://www.consumerreports.org/health/healthy-living/diet-nutrition/vitamins-supplements/do-you-really-need-to-detox-your-colon/overview/do-you-really-need-to-detox-your-colon-ov.htm

    Detox, shmeetox. The truth about pollutant-draining foot pads, colonics and other supposedly healthy cleansers. Time. 2009 Feb 16;173(6):46. PMID: 19271364 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE] http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1877382,00.html

    ‘Detox’: science or sales pitch? Aust Fam Physician. 2007 Dec;36(12):1009-10. Review. PMID: 18075624 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE] http://www.racgp.org.au/afp/200712/21204

    There isn’t a lot of scientific literature about this because it isn’t science; it’s a diet fad. If your liver and/or your kidneys aren’t doing the job, you don’t need a “detox diet”; you need to get on an organ transplant list.

    Disclaimer: I play a medical librarian in real life. Snark and sarcasm is a part-time gig.

  • John I

    The hot yoga practitioner ares a self-selecting lot. No one follows the drop outs. A friend of mine (very healthy) experience heat exhaustion after a Bikram class and never went back. He is an exercise fanatic, but dropped out after a very dangerous experience.

  • I’ve written about my love hate relationship with Hot Yoga in recent post on my blog (Hot Yoga High: Endorphin Buzz or Ancient Rite). Here are some excerpts:

    “I think much is revealed through hot yoga’s emphasis on detoxification. While our materialist culture sees purification as releasing toxins and harmful chemicals from the body, ancient cultures saw this purification as a spiritual practice. Ritual heat and sweating were used in many religious rituals across North America, Europe, Africa and Japan, for thousands of years.

    While practicing asana in heat is not part of the yogic tradition the practice of internally producing heat certainly is. The Yoga Sutras see “purification” as stoking the internal fire to burn away the “Maya” or illusion of the external world.

    According to esteemed yoga scholar Mircea Eliade, rituals involving fire or fire sacrifices are well documented in The Rig Veda. From the Vedic perspective “ritual sweat “was generated by the practitioner as he performed in the heat of the sacrificial fire.

    Is hot yoga a similar initiation? A new fangled ritual to satisfy an archaic spiritual hunger? Fact is, little in our chair/couch bound modern life demands such sustained physical effort in the face of difficult conditions as hot yoga. Surviving one’s first class has definite initiatory overtones, as newbie’s are often congratulated for having ‘made it through’.

    So I can’t help wonder, as I profusely perspire under radiant heat lamps, if I am partaking in an ancient and sacred rite? By subjecting myself to adverse conditions, do I go further? Find a deeper – or higher place– in which I burn through ‘Maya’ and overcome what I believe are my physical limits?

    After all, many spiritual traditions use techniques like extreme heat, fasting, sleep deprivation, blood loss and even extreme pain to achieve altered states of consciousness. In the long term, these activities would harm the body, but in the short term, they play an important role in religious ceremonies and initiation ordeals because they give us an experience of the transcendent….

    http://bodydivineyoga.wordpress.com/2012/02/02/burning-through-maya-my-hot-yoga-addiction/

  • Emily

    You raise a valid and interesting point here. Playing devil’s advocate, though, can’t you also say that many ancient cultures also practiced animal and human sacrifices and considered that a sacred rite? If someone did that today, does it make them more spiritual, or a criminal? Just because it’s ancient doesn’t mean it’s better. Maybe I’m not the best person to ask, seeing as I hate sweating profusely :) Best to you!

  • David D

    Someone on a yoga site claiming that “just because it’s ancient doesn’t mean it’s better?” Be careful, the “authentic practice” and Patanjali warriors may hear you. Then you’ll be in trouble. Your Yogi Credential may be pulled.

    BTW, I’m not disagreeing with you (for the most part, I actually agree), I’m just having a little fun because this argument is almost *never* presented by yoga practitioners, since they tend to romanticize the past at the expense of the present.

  • Satya Bound

    Our culture is Asana focused. Traditionally Yoga and Ayurveda were practiced hand in hand. Yoga is more concerned with developing agni on the higher levels, particularly as the fire of intelligence that connects with the divine fire or a flame of awareness that is Purusha. In Ayurveda the focus is on jatharagni for proper digestion of food and elimination of toxins. THIS IS KEY. Most people that crave the heat and have trouble sweating have a Pitta Dosha imbalance. Food and the intake of Prana should be the primary focus of how to stoke this fire. Yet, in Yoga the key agni is pranagni. Pranagni is the most powerful agni. This main purpose of pranayama is to develop pranagni. Pranayama, deep breathing combined with the retention of breath increases pranagni. Pranagni increases body heat leading to sweating and the purifucation of the nadis. Asana without Pranayama has a very limited ability to create agni in both the anamayakosha and pranamayakosha (food sheath/energy sheath). Ultimately, all this fire is meant to result in the even calm digestion of everything we take internally, ranging from thoughts to food to emotions. This happens in Pratyahara during savasana. The agni ignited in asana and pranyama is preparatory work for meditation. I am leaving out the other sheaths for the sake of staying on point. Which is that the fire is meant to be stoked internally. I don’t think heated yoga could be chalked up as good or bad since to a Yogi everything is sacred. But for the seeker eventually they may look to Ayurveda or find there is more refined path, for hyperbole sake, than dosing their sacred fire with gasoline ;)

  • BeaNs

    A ritual act or practice of spiritual detoxification is respectable. That I can respect.

    What I object to is taking spiritual practice and trying to imbue it with pseudo-scientific balderdash. It’s unnecessary and it just makes those who do so seem really flaky. When I hear a yoga teacher (or any one else) start off on detox, I wonder what other non-facts they are spreading and I discount everything else that they say.

  • just curious

    Have you ever tried detoxes yourself? (you know, science?) yea, studies are great, but they cannot be divorced from their sociocultural confines; the “discovery” of the clitoris and marijuana come immediately to mind.. I don’t need to read a paper to know that occasional cleaning of my bowels is superduper, let alone one that contradicts this.
    Myself, I roll my eyes both ways, at the Sciencists and Pseudoists.

  • J

    Science is method of inquiry based on empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning.

    So have several thousand people try a “detox” and a control group trying some sort of equivalent placebo while controlling for variables in both groups. Select what you are actually measuring for (perhaps heavy metals in the blood, etc) and find an accurate and blind way to measure for whatever it is you’ve chosen. Have your results peer reviewed by others who have no stake or interest in the outcome. Publish your results. Have other researchers duplicate your results multiple times.

    THIS (and only this) would be “you know, science?”.

    Trying a “detox” yourself and then writing about your subjective experience about it on a blog is as close to THE OPPOSITE OF SCIENCE as one can get.

  • simply yoga

    I don’t wish anyone any harm. But if there’s a death in this new extreme practice heat… well, it’ll probably take more than one, as the first couple will be pooh-poohed as the practitioner’s own fault… then we’ll see the papers flying.

    I sure hope children aren’t allowed in these 110 degree situations. I know they can come into Bikram (which is WRONG) but please keep the kids out of your brainless high-risk activity.

  • I think hot yoga is the epitome of our impatient culture. Yoga is all about life, it takes time to unfold and grow. If your trying to be more flexible in yoga postures than a strict regiment of hot yoga is probably the way to go. But more health and happiness is not guaranteed. At the same time more people doing yoga is exciting, hopefully they stumble on a yoga philosophy course and it propels them further down the path.

  • http://www.sensiblesweat.com Coming Soon. Until then, read the work in progress at http://www.evoyoga.com/page/sensible-sweat
    Feedback welcome.

  • Vision_Quest2

    Well, you can see that snowshoeasana has its followers out in the Mountain States. So, the world may come around to the igloo craving bunch … (without having to headline over at Reykjavik’s Ice Hotel)

    http://www.yogacards.com/yoga-video-email/yoga-videos-july-10.html

    But about the hot stuff?

    Accidentally wound up in a hot pilates class some time ago. It was love at first sight. Don’t think I could say the same about hot yoga or any other exercise under sauna-like conditions …

  • Lisa

    I’ve enjoyed practicing Bikram, especially after sustaining a pretty nasty injury to my left leg involving a compound fracture and tearing all the ligaments in my ankle. During my 10-month recovery, the hot room made my stiff leg much more pliable/flexible and aided in my physical therapy. It made me understand why this yoga is so popular, especially for people who may be less flexible and therefore intimidated by a more traditional yoga practice.

    Having said that, prior to my break I had practiced traditional forms of yoga for about 15 years. Bikram cannot hold a candle to a traditional practice, mainly due to the fact that it minimizes the most challenging part of yoga, which is the meditative aspect. Outside of LA I’ve never been to a Bikram class where anyone held Savasana for more than 1 minute. The classrooms are completely empty 20 seconds after the teacher stops speaking, lol.

  • JeffreyD

    Now let’s turn a critical eye towards vegetarian diets.

  • I tried one class of Bikram Hot yoga and I felt sick for 3 days afterwards. I know some people say that means toxins are leaving your body, but I just can’t handle it. Needless to say I never went back.

  • Em

    I’ve been a yoga teacher for 12 years and for the last two I’ve taught at a hot studio (before that I was at a gym, which was freezing most of the time!) In those two years of practicing and teaching hot, I’ve become convinced that exclusively practicing in a 93 degree plus heated room isn’t good for you. All those “benefits” that are touted by Bikram and hot styles – more pliable muscles, greater flexibility – in our competitive society just allows students to push themselves beyond what is safe for their bodies. Not to mention the poor form I see is exacerbated by students getting tired more quickly from the heat. For me personally, I’ve noticed that my joints are stiff and sore more frequently and especially after a hot practice; and I encourage my students to practice yoga in not-hot environments (either videos or at the gym) in addition to the classes at the studio.

  • abbylou

    My teacher turns the heat up to about 78. We do vinyasas and otherwise only very basic poses, but we hold them for a LOOOOOONG time with an intense focus on alignment and breath. This is enough to ignite my agni. I am usually dripping with sweat 1/3 of the way through class. It’s funny, when I go to a supposedly more advanced level “heated class,” it feels like a breeze and I don’t get nearly as sweaty, of course I don’t focus nearly as much and the class moves so fast that I can’t focus on the breath.

    I think the purification comes from the intense mental focus and breath, not the temperature of the classroom. The more focused I am and the more I breathe, the more I sweat.

  • I think that this is happening because of acclimation.

    When people first start hot yoga, the room — whether it is 85 degrees or 106 or whatever is “hot.”

    Once they become accustomed to that heat, it’s no longer ‘hot’ to them — and they will sweat less. This is normal — the body adjusts.

    Because many of the people who like this kind of yoga like to sweat, they start seeking ways to increase the heat that they experience. First, they usually look for the hottest spot in the room. Then they might wear warmer clothes. And then, they start to ask the teacher/studio to turn up the heat.

    I remember teaching a full class — wall to wall people — in a hot studio. The studio had reached 106 degrees F with 60% humidity. One student was in the hottest part of the room, and when I went to give her an assist, she insisted “it’s cold, please turn the heat up!” I checked the temperature again, and it was 106 degrees.

    She then complained when I got back around to her “you didn’t turn the heat up. It’s cold.” And I said “it’s 106 degrees and 60% humidity. Any hotter would put other students at risk. Perhaps try working your breath a bit more.” She then stormed out.

    She complained to management that I was teaching “in a cold room” and that I was “rude” to her when she asked for the “heat that was advertised!” Management confronted me about it.

    Luckily, the heater would record the temperatures and humidity of the class (it was a fancy system, they just didn’t know how to access that information), and it showed that the class started at 100 degrees and 55% humidity, and went up to 106 and 60, and then went back down to 103 and 58% when we were near the end of class.

    I also asserted that the room was packed — literally inches between mats — with several brand new students to the studio, as well as a several regular students, all of whom looked like they were struggling with the temperature. Turning up the heat for ONE person — and above what is necessary — just seemed like a bad idea, not to mention a health risk to the other 35 or so people in the room.

    They finally agreed that I should “just let her complaints go.” I had on the day she’d made them. I had to make a call for the safety and comfort of everyone, and I made that call. I was comfortable with that call.

    On the flip side of this, teachers are not immune themselves.

    I taught at another hot studio where the teachers just started cranking the heat.

    There is an actual “science” to the heat, but that doesn’t mean that teachers necessarily understand it. How bikram chose it — or even the lady who trains Gweneth Paltrow chose it — actually does have some science to back it up. But you do need to understand it before using it.

    Instead, what I experienced is that the studio advertized classes at 85-90 degrees, but classes often started at 90-95 and went up to about 100-103 in a given class. And some teachers “cranked” it more than others.

    When I finally left that studio, teachers would complain if they were a student in a room when I kept it purposefully at the advertised 85 degrees (it was, after all, a beginners class) — saying that it was cold. Likewise, they would keep turning up the heat in the other classes, until the classes were sometimes topping out around 110 degrees.

    There was no knowledge about the safety around this level of heat, or how to manage different people (whom you don’t necessarily know) in that sort of heat — it was mostly just a “love of the heat” because they were acclimatized to the lower heats in which we had practiced and taught for many years.

    As a group, they decided that “while we will market the classes at 85, we’ll start classes at 95 and let it go up from there.” I thought this was dishonest and possibly harmful, and besides which, on the day that *I* nearly passed out while teaching, I decided that it was time for me to move on. That day, the room started at 106, and had moved up to 110 and I opened the door then so that I wouldn’t pass out.

    And then resigned my position with two weeks notice.

    It was simply too hot. And, as the article says, there’s not a lot of evidence of any added benefit per se.

  • wondering

    heating rooms to high temp.s for an hour of “hot yoga” doesn’t seem to be a very good use of resources.

  • All I know is hot vinyasa is the only (healthy) way I’ve found to manage my own chronic pain. Do I sell it to others as a cure-all? Heck, no. Follow what you feel… which can be hard

  • I’m a hot yoga teacher here in Canada, and i have to say there is definitely an appropriate way to have hot yoga, and a not so appropriate way. I teach Moksha Yoga (not a lot of studios in the US, but tons in Canada) that is similar to Bikram, however, way different. We have a much more therapeutic approach to our sequence, we encourage people to take breaks, and drink lots of water, etc. What i’ve noticed over the years as hot yoga started to get really popular is that every studio started to add hot classes…. without really giving thought to how to sequence a hot class. Crazy vinyasa (flow) classes are totally not appropriate for a hot room, because you’re creating a lot of internal heat. That’s not to say vinyasa is out of the question, but a slow flow is definitely better.
    In terms of detoxifying, all yoga is detoxifying… in heat or not. It is detoxifying by the way we stimulate the liver, kidney and spleen in certain yoga postures. So when you read claims about whether hot yoga is detoxifying, you have to ask yourself if the claim is being made because of the heat, or the practice. Most people assume it’s being said because of the sweat, but for educated hot yoga teachers, that’s not the case.
    Although i will say that many students feel that hot yoga helps them clear up their acne… but it remains to be seen if that’s because of the sweat, or because feeling healthy from the activity makes them make smarter dietary choices.

  • Thanks YogaDork. I love the “science of sweat” section of this article! Super helpful!

  • Ah, I love these conversations about the wonderful world of sweat! In the course of opening a new yoga studio I went through lots of research like that above, as well as used my own physiology training, clinical experience and good old fashioned common sense. No one likes a hot room like I do, however when it comes to my students, safety and efficacy rule. Training zaps energy and increases the likelihood of heat stress. And when our energy is tapped out we do not work our muscles as hard, instead relying on the false-positive workout that sweat makes us think we got. I like a warm studio of approx. 80 degrees, safely helping muscles lengthen without the extreme heat.

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