Is hot yoga right for me?

Bikram yoga or hot yoga is a practice that is performed in a room heated to 38-40 degrees Celsius. Like other yoga practices, it came to us from India, getting its name from its inventor, Bikram Chowdhury. After his injury, he discovered that exercising in a heated room speeds up recovery. Today Bikram Yoga is very popular not only in America and Europe, but also in Russia. 

Physically, hot yoga is more rigid than regular yoga, making practitioners susceptible to dehydration and muscle damage. Casey Mays, an assistant professor of public health at Central Washington University, believes the possible risks are the same for all types of yoga. She studied hot yoga extensively, and his research showed that while some practitioners experienced greater flexibility and improved mood, more than half experienced dizziness, nausea, and dehydration.

“There may be a misconception that these feelings are normal, but they are not,” she said. – If people experience dizziness or headaches, weakness or fatigue, it may be due to fluid loss. They need to rest, cool down and drink. Proper hydration of the body is key.”

However, Dr. Mace says hot yoga is generally safe and the side effects we see are generally mild. Although, like any yoga, this practice has certain risks.

This summer, doctors in Chicago reported that a perfectly healthy 35-year-old woman suffered cardiac arrest while doing hot yoga. The woman survived, but what happened made her and many other practitioners think about the safety of Bikram Yoga.

Muscle and joint injuries can also be more common during hot yoga because the heat makes people feel more flexible than they actually are. So says kinesiology professor Carol Ewing Garber, a former president of the American College of Sports Medicine.

“You have to be a little on your guard when you look at any of the studies because they are being done among well-trained yoga teachers in the best conditions,” Dr. Garber said. “The reality is that in the real world there are many differences between teachers in terms of their practices.”

Bikram Yoga has shown that this practice improves balance, increases body strength and range of motion in both the upper and lower body, and can improve arterial stiffness and metabolic processes such as glucose tolerance and cholesterol levels, increase bone density, and reduce stress level. However, the Australian researchers reviewed the literature, including that written by the co-owners of the Bikram yoga studio, and noted that there was only one randomized controlled trial of hot yoga. Most studies do not track adverse events and are conducted only in perfectly healthy adults, so it is impossible to speak with full confidence about the safety of bikram yoga.

If you have low blood pressure or have had health problems in the past, you should check with your doctor before trying hot yoga. If you have adverse reactions to heat, are prone to heatstroke or dehydration, or feel uncomfortable in the bath, baths, or sauna, it is best to stick to traditional yoga practices. If you do decide to take a Bikram yoga class, make sure your body is well hydrated and drink plenty of water before, during, and after class. 

“If you’re sweating a lot, it’s very difficult to replace that fluid,” says Dr. Garber. “Many people fail to recognize the early signs of heat stroke.”

Symptoms of heat stroke include thirst, profuse sweating, dizziness and headache, weakness, muscle cramps, nausea, or vomiting. Therefore, as soon as you feel at least one of these symptoms during the practice, stop the practice, drink and rest. 

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