Hot Yoga or Heated Yoga is no passing fad. While yoga has been practiced for 1,000s of years, hot yoga is a more recent development. There are many reasons why hot yoga, sometimes called Bikram Yoga after its founder, has become so popular and widespread. If you’ve been looking into hot yoga, here are 5 benefits that heated yoga has on your body from the inside out.
One of the claims you are likely to find when looking at the benefits of hot yoga is that it aids in detoxifying the body. It is no medical secret that one of the ways your body gets rid of toxins is through the sweating process. Your body naturally works to clean itself of harmful metals through the liver and the kidneys and expels toxins through urine and sweating. But many of us in the modern environment do not sweat as much as our ancestors.
Participating in activities that induce sweating, like hot yoga, can boost the body’s natural ability to rid itself of toxins and metals. One study in the Archives of Environmental and Contamination Toxicology found that certain metalloids were best cleaned from the body through sweating rather than through urine or blood cleaning.  Therefore, by participating in hot yoga you are ridding your body of toxins and making it easier for your body to clean itself and live a healthy lifestyle.
In order to get the heat up to proper temperatures, many studios will use infrared heat, and your sweat during hot yoga sessions will be mostly water rather than toxins, so it is important that you stay hydrated.
2. Burning Calories
When the body is heated up beyond its normal temperature it must work to cool itself. That work requires the body to exert a certain amount of energy. And that’s where you receive the benefit of burning extra calories. By simply doing yoga in a heated room, the body has to do extra work in comparison to regular yoga.
How much will you burn? This will vary from person to person and there has yet to be any long-term research to verify results. Some proponents of hot yoga will boast thousands of calories burned, but this is highly unlikely and certainly untested.
One study from the Department of Health and Exercise Science at Colorado State University found that during an average 90-minute hot yoga session, men burned around 460 calories while women burned around 330 calories. Another study published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research also found “modestly decreased body fat” over the short term for participates in hot yoga compared to a control group.
3. Boosts Immunity
Doctors at the Clifford Hospital have found that time spent in hot temperatures can both reinforce and stimulate the body’s ability to fight diseases. When you are in a heated environment like a hot yoga studio, it puts your body in a somewhat fevered state. When your body is in these states it will naturally think that there is something that needs to be fought off which is causing the elevated heat.
What this means is that the body will begin producing more white blood cells which are necessary for fighting off diseases and viruses. Your body will automatically raise its level of antibodies which can help fight off infections and reduce the possibility that you might get sick.
4. Increased Muscle Performance
Of course, if you are already familiar with yoga, you already know that it helps with increased focus and relaxation. But by adding the element of heat to your yoga session, you can also help with relaxing your muscles and joints during your stretches.
One of the first things you learn when beginning any workout program is the importance of warming up. This is because your muscles need the increased blood flow to function well and avoid injury. By doing hot yoga, the body is already increasing the amount of blood moving through the body as part of the cooling process. This means that your muscles automatically receive a boost. Your muscles are working in an environment where they receive all the fuel they need to work well.
This also helps in your body’s recovery time and relaxation after your yoga session. Muscles need blood to repair themselves after stretching, and hot yoga boosts the blood flow and helps you relax.
5. Improved Flexibility
In the same way, that increased blood flow helps your muscles, you can also expect your joints and ligaments to benefit. In fact, the only thing you need to know about this benefit is that it may be too great of a benefit. What we mean by this is that the increased flexibility may make you feel that you can do stretches beyond your normal safety thresholds. Therefore, it is important to work with a trained professional so you do not injure yourself by stretching beyond safe limits.
Mark Hastings is the owner of RelaxedWellbeing.com where he writes on issues related to healthy lifestyles, healthy eating, and general well-being. Mark lives in New Zealand where he enjoys sports, fishing and fitness.