Hot Yoga vs. Regular Yoga: Which Is Better for You?

While there are many similarities between hot yoga and regular yoga, they offer slightly different benefits.

The style that’s best for you will depend on your goals, your comfort in the heat, and how you prefer to practice.

So, let’s learn what hot yoga is, the difference between hot yoga vs. regular yoga, and the benefits of hot yoga, to help find the style that’s best for you!

What Is Hot Yoga?

Hot yoga is a style practiced in a room where the heat and humidity have both been increased. It’s a term that covers all styles of yoga practiced in a heated room designed to make you sweat.

Although most hot yoga classes tend to be flow or vinyasa style, many studios offer slower practices such as hot yin yoga.

Generally, hot yoga is a strenuous yoga practice that will leave you feeling like you’ve finished a challenging workout!

Hot Yoga vs. Bikram Yoga

All forms of hot yoga derive from a style of yoga called Bikram yoga.

Bikram yoga is a style practiced in a room heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius), following a pre-determined set of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises. Generally, Bikram yoga classes last for 90 minutes.

Hot yoga classes, however, don’t follow a set sequence and can include various yoga poses.

Teachers may also decide to adjust the heat and humidity depending on the style of yoga they’re teaching and the students attending their class.

How Does Hot Yoga Differ From Regular Yoga?

While hot yoga is practiced in heat and humidity, regular yoga is generally practiced at room temperature. And by ‘regular yoga’, we’re referring to any style of yoga that’s not labeled as ‘hot yoga’.

Because hot yoga doesn’t follow any specific rules, it is possible to practice almost any style of regular yoga as ‘hot yoga’ – the only requirement is that the room is hot and humid. Yin, vinyasa, and hatha yoga are just three of the most popular styles of regular yoga that can be practiced as hot yoga.

Related: What is Hot Power Yoga?

Both hot yoga and regular yoga offer similar benefits.

They both allow us to spend time on our mats, improving our health, moving our bodies, reducing stress, and getting to know ourselves in our practice.

What Are the Benefits of Hot Yoga?

Hot yoga has many of the same benefits as regular yoga. However, you may see some benefits that are specific to practicing yoga in a heated environment.

Greater Flexibility

While almost every style of yoga improves flexibility, hot yoga enables us to stretch our muscles when they’re already warm.

This can improve flexibility in the muscles as well as mobility in the joints.

During hot yoga classes, you may find that you’re able to practice deep stretches more easily than you can in a regular yoga class.

Improved Lung Capacity

Practicing yoga in a hot room can give your heart, lungs, and muscles a great workout. Regular practice can lead to improved lung capacity and more efficient breathing.

Yoga also requires us to be mindful of our breathing – focusing on taking deep inhales that fill the belly, and long exhales that calm the nervous system. Breathing in this way for an extended period of time is a great way to improve the health of your heart and lungs.

Weight Loss

A Colorado State University study showed that a 90-minute hot yoga session (Bikram yoga, to be exact) burned up to 460 calories for men and 330 for women!

While exercising in heat does burn more calories, it’s very minimal. With that said, if weight loss is your goal, then hot yoga may be a better option for you.

Better Bone Mass

Research has found that practicing Bikram or hot yoga regularly may help to increase bone density through improved respiration and circulation.

Reduced Stress

Adding regular hot yoga practice to your daily life may be an excellent way to naturally reduce stress.

In fact, one study showed that just 16 weeks of Bikram yoga (a style of hot yoga) “significantly improved perceived stress, general self-efficacy, and HRQoL in sedentary, stressed adults”.

Improved Heart Health

Regularly practicing yoga, especially one of the more dynamic styles, can give your heart a great workout and lower the risk of heart disease.

And while many believe the extra heat during a hot yoga class will work your heart even harder, one small study showed that the boost in vascular may have nothing to do with the heat but rather the physical aspect of yoga.

Of course, this also depends on the style of yoga you practice. A hot vinyasa yoga class will work your heart more than a hot yin yoga class (where you’ll spend the majority of the time in floor-based stretches).

Healthier Skin

Although sweating might not always feel great, it can do wonders for your skin!

All of that sweating during a hot yoga class is a wonderful way to improve circulation and deliver oxygen-rich blood to your cells.

Which Is Better Hot Yoga or Regular Yoga?

Hot yoga is a great choice for beginners looking to try something new, as well as more experienced yogis looking to explore a different style of yoga.

Regularly practicing hot yoga is ideal if you’re trying to capitalize on any of the benefits listed above.

However, there are a few health conditions that might make it unsafe to practice hot yoga. Those who have blood pressure issues, are pregnant, have had issues in the past with high heat conditions, etc., might want to avoid practicing hot yoga.

Related: Can I Do Hot Yoga While Pregnant? (Important Safety Tips)

Plus, practicing in high heat can lead to heat-related illness if your core temperature gets too high (heat-related illness increases at 104 degrees core temp). In fact, an ACE study observed a 90-minute hot yoga class at 105 degrees and 40% humidity, finding seven of the 20 participants had a core temperature higher than 103 degrees (with one hitting 104.1)!

Ultimately, the best practice for you, whether that be hot yoga or regular yoga, comes down to the style that you’re most likely to stick with for the long run and helps you meet your mental and physical goals.

Important: If you have diabetes, have blood pressure issues, or are pregnant, it’s best to avoid hot yoga. Please consult a physician before starting an exercise program.

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