9 Sizzling Benefits of Hot Yoga (and 5 Risks!)

Hot yoga improves your flexibility, makes you stronger and can help you get a better night’s sleep. However there are a few notable risks including dehydration, heat stroke and even muscle damage.

Benefits of Hot Yoga

In this article we’ll explore both the benefits and the risks, presenting the research so you can decide whether it’s right for you.

Before we begin though, we’ll be referring to both hot yoga and Bikram yoga, but what’s the difference?

Both are practiced at high temperatures, however Bikram is made up of the same 26 poses, whereas any asana can be practiced during hot yoga.

Another key difference is that Bikram studios tend to be hotter and there is no talking allowed, whereas hot yoga tends to be a little more laid back.

9 Hot Yoga Health Benefits: Turn Up the Heat

Benefit 1: Hot yoga can improve your flexibility and balance

1: Hot yoga can improve your flexibility and balance

By enjoying three hot yoga sessions each week, participants in a 2013 project found they improved their trunk flexibility.[1]

The study focused on yoga for flexibility, in particular arterial stiffness in young and older adults.

Further research conducted at Colorado State University looked at the impact of Bikram on the steadiness and balance of young people.[2]

Results were powerful, with certain subjects seeing a 228% increase in the length of time they could balance successfully.

It was concluded that a short term program, in this case eight weeks, can improve your balance significantly, as well as help with leg strength and muscle control.

Benefit 2: Hot yoga could make you stronger

2: Hot yoga could make you stronger

If you want to build a powerful body there are many poses for strength, but why not heat things up!

A critical review of the various studies done into Bikram yoga, conducted at Western Sydney University, showed that it could strengthen your lower body.[3]

The 2015 review also highlighted how good the practice was for improving your range of motion.

Watch this short guided session below, designed to build strength:

YouTube video

Benefit 3: Hot yoga can be good for your bones

3: Hot yoga can be good for your bones

Researchers initially predicted that practicing in a hot room would be bad for your bones, however a 2017 project actually demonstrated the opposite.[4]

Dr Gordon MacGregor, the professor who conducted the investigation at The University of Alabama explains:

Our original idea was that people were going to be sweating out a lot of calcium and their bones would start to break down for the body to maintain its calcium levels…

But as it turns out, while there’s a lot of salt lost in sweat, only just a little bit of calcium is lost. So it was the opposite – hot yoga is actually really good for your bones.

Dr Shannon Mathis who also worked on the project did however offer a warning to yogis:

We still recommend that fluid, sodium, and calcium are replenished after hot yoga practice.

Benefit 4: Hot yoga may help you breathe better

4: Hot yoga may help you breathe better

The ability to improve your breathing is invaluable to those using yoga for running.

Runner’s World magazine recommends the practice, particularly for those training for a marathon.[5]

They explain how it relies on you having great control of your breathing to flow through the poses.

It also trains your body to rely on your breath during endurance activities such as running.

Benefit 5: Hot yoga could ensure you get a better night’s sleep

5: Hot yoga could ensure you get a better night’s sleep

Low constraint sleep monitoring concluded that Bikram sessions did help respondents improve their sleep quality.[6]

Subjects were tested over a 14 day period, choosing the number of sessions they wanted to follow and wearing a headband at night to monitor their sleep.

Results showed that participants fell asleep quicker and if they did wake, they stayed awake for shorter durations.

The uncontrolled nature of the study means the results have limitations, and it was felt that larger scale research was needed.

If you’re desperate for a good night’s rest, there are a number of asanas for sleep, that are shown to help you fall into a deeper slumber.

Benefit 6: Hot yoga can improve your mental health

6: Hot yoga can improve your mental health

Yoga encourages a mindful state, that many feel is further heightened by the heat and humidity of a hot studio.

A project conducted on a sample of 51 healthy participants looked at the effectiveness of 8 weeks of Bikram yoga on stress, as well as mindfulness and overall physical fitness.[7]

The Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) was used to assess participants, and following a series of sessions, stress levels were significantly reduced.

The small sample used and the uncontrolled nature of the research meant it had limitations, however the findings were still felt to be significant.

It is also proven to be good for depression.

52 women in San Fransisco, who were showing signs of depression, were tested as part of a study to determine the impact it could have on your mental health.[8]

Half of the participants in the project took two classes a week for eight weeks.

Results showed that the reduction in depressive symptoms, including stress and emotional eating, was almost three times higher in the group of the women who had completed the classes.

Wondering exactly how it helps, Olga Allon, founder of Hot Bikram Yoga Studios in London, describes how:

When someone is fairly new to Bikram, the focus is certainly on the physical side but after a while, there is normally a shift that allows the students to start to focus on breath. The practice can then become incredibly meditative…

Once you start to do that, I think you start to take some lessons learned in the hot room outside of class too, as you learn to stay calm and focused in any situation.

If you want to see how it could improve your state of mind, take a look below:

YouTube video

Benefit 7: Hot yoga can enhance your lung capacity

7: Hot yoga can enhance your lung capacity

Respiratory therapist Gagan Singh explains that many people only use about 50% of their lung capacity.[9]

Bikram is believed to help you increase that percentage!

The deep breathing trains the lungs to be more flexible enabling them to hold more oxygen.

When our lungs are strong and healthy they can transport oxygen to the blood more effectively, purifying it and helping to remove toxins from the body.

The deep breathing, that is a big part of this style of yoga, can facilitate this process, allowing your body to cleanse its systems.

Benefit 8: Hot yoga might assist healthy weight loss

8: Hot yoga might assist healthy weight loss

A study published in the Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise journal, discovered that participants could burn up to 459 calories in a 90 minute session.[10]

They concluded that it produces a moderate metabolic response and a substantially elevated core temperature.

Instructor Michelle Carlson explains the ‘buzz’ you’ll feel for producing such a response in your body.

You know that awesome feeling of accomplishment you get after a great cardio workout? It feels like that, only more centered and grounded… it’s a feeling close to elation.[11]

Shedding pounds through the practice can also be accelerated with specific yoga poses for weight loss, including the shoulder stand and downward dog.

Benefit 9: How to beat the symptoms of menopause with hot yoga

9: How to beat the symptoms of menopause with hot yoga

For menopausal women suffering from hot flushes, a heated studio might sound like their own version of hell, however research has shown that it can be beneficial.

Michele Pernetta, who is often cited as the person who brought the practice to the UK in 1994, explains:

While it may seem counterintuitive to go into a hot room when one is suffering from hot flushes, the heated room allows the sequence to work deeper and faster and in fact has the opposite effect on the flushes – reducing rather than aggravating them.[12]

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5 Must-know Risks of Hot Yoga: Proceed with Caution

As well as yoga having many benefits, it’s no surprise that practicing in a room heated to 105°F comes with a number of different risks:

Benefit 1: Hot yoga could lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke

1: Hot yoga could lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke

In research done by the American Council on Exercise, it was stated by Emily Quandt MS that:

The dramatic increases in heart rate and core temperature are alarming when you consider that there is very little movement, and therefore little cardiovascular training, going on during class.

She goes on to explain:

While the excessive perspiration that participants experienced during class is often cited by those who practice this style of yoga as a benefit in terms of the release of toxins, the results of this study show that this sweating was insufficient to cool down the body.[13]

Benefit 2: Hot yoga could make you dehydrated

2: Hot yoga could make you dehydrated

Arm in arm with hot temperatures and exercise, of course is the problem of dehydration.

Naturally after a sweaty session you drink lots of water, however that can lead to a condition known as hyponatremia. This is caused when the sodium in your blood is too low.

Research into the risks of hot yoga identified the case of a 34 year old woman who presented with severe hyponatremia after drinking 3.5 liters of water following a class.[14]

It’s advised that instructors should pay close attention to their students and be able to make sound recommendations regarding hydration.[15]

Benefit 3: Hot yoga might cause joint and muscle damage

3: Hot yoga might cause joint and muscle damage

Many believe that a hot studio helps them get deeper into their stretch.

However Professor Win Chang MD, clinical professor of Orthopedic Surgery at New York University’s Hospital for Joint Diseases, warns that:

Although it may feel good, over stretching your muscles actually backfires.[16]

He explains that it can lead to joint problems, arthritis and inflammation and claims that the latest yoga statistics show that orthopedic surgeons are seeing more and more injuries.

Benefit 4: Hot yoga should be avoided by those at an increased risk of developing heart disease

4: Hot yoga should be avoided by those at an increased risk of developing heart disease

Men over the age of 45, who may have previously had a sedentary lifestyle, are warned to be cautious when practicing, due to their increased risk of heart disease.

In fact it is recommended that anyone with CVD risk factors consults a doctor before practicing.

The caution was based on the case of a 53 year old man who experienced acute coronary syndrome while in a class.[17]

Benefit 5: Hot yoga shouldn’t be practiced by pregnant women

5: Hot yoga shouldn’t be practiced by pregnant women

Due to the extra weight and loose muscles, as well as the lower blood pressure that typically accompanies the early stages, pregnant women are advised not to practice.[18]

It’s thought that the heat could lead to fainting, or even birth defects.

Understand More about the Healing Power of Yoga

Support with pregnancy and labor, and relief from the symptoms of PMS, are just a few of the health advantages of yoga for women.

Even your sex life will enjoy a boost…

Laura Smith


Laura Smith

Associate Editorial Manager

Specialist health & wellbeing writer, passionate about discovering new technologies & sharing the latest research.


  1. Hunter, S.D. et al (2013). The effect of Bikram yoga on arterial stiffness in young and older adults [Online]. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23738677/ [Accessed 18 July 2023].
  2. Hart, C.E. and Tracy, B.L. (2008). Yoga as Steadiness Training: Effects on Motor Variability in Young Adults [Online]. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18714217/ [Accessed 18 July 2023].
  3. Hewett, Z.L. et al (2015). The Effects of Bikram Yoga on Health: Critical Review and Clinical Trial Recommendations [Online]. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4609431/ [Accessed 18 July 2023].
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  5. Canter, L. (2022). The benefits of hot yoga for runners [Online]. Runner’s World. Available from: https://www.runnersworld.com/uk/training/cross-training/a26893402/hot-yoga-benefits-runners/ [Accessed 18 July 2023].
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  8. Woodward, A. (2017). Hot yoga classes reduce emotional eating and negative thoughts [Online]. New Scientist. Available from: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2142788-hot-yoga-classes-reduce-emotional-eating-and-negative-thoughts/ [Accessed 18 July 2023].
  9. RUSH University Medical Center, (2023). 9 Tips for Healthy Lungs [Online]. Available from: https://www.rush.edu/news/9-tips-healthy-lungs [Accessed 18 July 2023].
  10. Fritz, M.L. et al (2014). Acute Metabolic, Cardiovascular, And Thermal Responses To A Single Session Of Bikram Yoga [Online]. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. Available from: https://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/fulltext/2014/05001/Acute_Metabolic,_Cardiovascular,_And_Thermal.450.aspx [Accessed 18 July 2023].
  11. Reid-St John, S. (2021). Hot Yoga: Healing or Hazardous? [Online]. Sharecare. Available from: https://www.sharecare.com/exercise-fitness/yoga/hot-yoga-healing-or-hazardous [Accessed 18 July 2023].
  12. Larbi, M. (2017). How to beat the symptoms of menopause with hot yoga [Online]. Metro. Available from: https://metro.co.uk/2017/05/15/how-to-beat-the-symptoms-of-menopause-with-hot-yoga-6638794/ [Accessed 18 July 2023].
  13. Quandt, M.S. et al (2015). Ace Study Examine Effects of Bikram Yoga on Core Body Temps [Online]. Available from: https://acewebcontent.azureedge.net/certifiednews/images/article/pdfs/ACE_BikramYogaStudy.pdf [Accessed 18 July 2023].
  14. Hewett, Z.L. et al (see footnote 3)
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  17. Hewett, Z.L. et al (see footnote 3)
  18. Chan, J., Natekar, A. and Koren, G. (2014). Hot yoga and pregnancy [Online]. Canadian Family Physician. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3994790/ [Accessed 18 July 2023].