"Hot Yoga" Explained: The Fusion of Saunas and Traditional Yoga

hot yoga
In the ever-evolving world of fitness and wellness, enthusiasts are always on the lookout for the next big thing. Over the past few years, a new trend has been heating up (quite literally): hot yoga. This practice, which combines the ancient art of yoga with the intense heat of a sauna, has been gaining traction across the globe. So, what's the buzz all about?

What is Hot Yoga?

At its core, hot yoga is a yoga practice conducted in a room heated to temperatures ranging from 95°F (35°C) to 105°F (40°C) with a humidity level of around 40%. The concept is similar to that of a sauna where the heat and humidity intensify the experience. This combination promises a slew of benefits, from increased flexibility to detoxification.

Origins of Hot Yoga

While many might think hot yoga is a contemporary invention, its roots trace back to the 1970s. The most well-known form is Bikram Yoga, named after its founder, Bikram Choudhury. Bikram Yoga involves a series of 26 poses and two breathing exercises, specifically designed to be practiced in a hot, humid room.

However, today, "hot yoga" has become a broader term that encompasses any yoga style practiced under heated conditions. It's not limited to the specific postures of Bikram Yoga.

Benefits of Hot Yoga

1. Enhanced Flexibility

The heat from hot yoga classes helps muscles to relax and stretch more easily. This means practitioners often find they can delve deeper into poses compared to a regular yoga session. Over time, this can lead to improved flexibility.

2. Detoxification

Sweating is a natural way our body eliminates toxins. The intense heat and exercise during a hot yoga session can make you sweat profusely, aiding in the detoxification process.

3. Improved Cardiovascular Health

The combination of yoga poses and increased heat can give your cardiovascular system a workout, potentially improving heart health and endurance.

4. Mental Benefits

Like traditional yoga, hot yoga can offer mental and emotional benefits. The added heat, however, can intensify the experience, leading to a deeper sense of relaxation and mental clarity post-session.

Considerations Before Starting Hot Yoga

Hot yoga isn't for everyone. Before diving into this sweaty endeavor, here are a few considerations:

  • Hydration is key. The intense heat can lead to rapid dehydration. Ensure you're drinking plenty of water before, during, and after the class.

  • Consult with a physician if you have any underlying health conditions. People with cardiovascular issues, pregnant women, or individuals sensitive to heat should seek medical advice before starting.

  • Listen to your body. If you feel dizzy, nauseous, or excessively fatigued, it might be best to take a break or leave the class.

sauna interior

7 Things To Consider When Doing Yoga Poses In A Sauna

The fusion of yoga, an ancient discipline promoting physical and mental harmony, with the rejuvenating heat of a sauna, has paved the way for the "hot yoga" phenomenon. This popular workout trend offers a myriad of benefits, from enhanced flexibility to effective detoxification. However, combining intense heat with physical exertion demands caution. Here are seven crucial considerations when practicing yoga poses in a sauna environment.

1. Hydration is Crucial

The combination of sweat-inducing yoga postures and the dry heat of a sauna can lead to rapid dehydration. Before attempting a sauna-based yoga session, ensure that you’re well-hydrated. Sipping water throughout your session, even if you don’t feel particularly thirsty, can help replace the fluids you’re losing. Post-session, continue to drink water or hydrating drinks to restore your body's balance.

2. Know Your Limits

While it’s admirable to challenge oneself, it's equally important to recognize and respect your body's limits. Pushing yourself too hard in such an intense environment can result in injuries or heat-related issues. Always start with simpler poses to gauge your body’s response to the heat, and only then gradually intensify your routine.

3. Pre-existing Health Conditions

Before embarking on this dual journey of heat and exercise, consult with a healthcare professional, especially if you have pre-existing conditions. Individuals with heart problems, respiratory issues, or those who are pregnant, should approach hot yoga with caution, as saunas can elevate heart rates and affect blood pressure.

4. Proper Attire

Choosing the right attire can significantly influence your sauna yoga experience. Lightweight, breathable, and moisture-wicking materials are recommended. Such fabrics can facilitate easier movement and help manage the profuse sweating. Avoid heavy or non-breathable materials which can hinder your flexibility and cause overheating.

5. Breathe Properly

Breathing, a cornerstone of yoga practice, becomes even more vital in a sauna setting. With the heat intensifying the experience, maintaining proper breathing patterns can help in managing the body's response to the elevated temperature. Focus on deep, rhythmic breaths that can aid in oxygenating your muscles and keeping you calm.

6. Warm-up and Cool Down

Though it might seem redundant to warm up in a heated environment, it's essential to remember that warming up isn't just about raising body temperature. Gentle stretches and basic yoga poses at the beginning of your session will prepare your muscles and joints for more intense movements. Similarly, as you conclude, opt for a cool-down phase, allowing your body to gradually adjust back to its normal temperature.

7. Monitor the Sauna Temperature

Saunas can be adjusted to various temperatures, and it's essential to find a heat level that's both beneficial and safe. While "hot yoga" studios usually set the heat between 95°F (35°C) to 105°F (40°C) with a humidity level of around 40%, it's worth noting that traditional saunas can reach much higher temperatures. If practicing yoga in a traditional sauna, consider reducing the heat to create a comfortable yet challenging environment. 

The Growing Popularity of Hot Yoga

Search trends indicate a rising interest in hot yoga classes globally. With an increasing number of studios offering heated sessions and celebrity endorsements adding to its fame, hot yoga's popularity is set to soar even higher.

Furthermore, the integration of technology in fitness has given a boost to this trend. Many online platforms now offer virtual hot yoga sessions, allowing enthusiasts to practice from the comfort of their homes using space heaters.


Yoga, with its rich history and profound benefits, has continually evolved over the years. The fusion of yoga and saunas in the form of hot yoga is yet another testament to its adaptability and enduring appeal.

As with any fitness regimen, it's crucial to approach hot yoga with an open mind, adequate preparation, and attention to one's own body's needs and limitations. If done correctly, this steamy practice might just be the refreshing change you've been seeking in your wellness journey.

Explore more