What’s the hottest new workout taking the world by storm? That would be hot yoga, also known as Bikram yoga. Conducted in a heated room with sweltering temperatures of about 40°C (or approximately 104° Fahrenheit) and 40 per cent humidity, it’s guaranteed to make the body sweat… plenty! Hence, many believe this helps detoxify the body and burn major calories. But is it true?​

Principal Physiotherapist Suelyn Chan from the Department of Physiotherapy, Singapore General Hospital (SGH), a member of the SingHealth group, tackles this and other burning myths of h​ot yoga.​​

​Myths about hot yoga

Myth 1: Heavy sweating during hot yoga will help detox your body

Hot yoga can really make you sweat buckets - up to two litres during a single session, according to reports. However, sweat is 99 per cent water combined with a small amount of minerals such as sodium, potassium and magnesium, as well as trace metals like zinc, copper and iron. Thus, sweating will mostly eliminate water and other constituents needed for bodily functions, says Ms Chan. Real toxins like mercury, alcohol and most drugs are eliminated by the liver, kidneys and intestines, not through sweat.

Myth 2: Exercising in a heated room elevates heart rate, offering a more intense workout

Raising the temperature of the room you’re exercising in does increase heart rate as your heart needs to work harder to cool your body down. But this does not mean that hot yoga puts greater physical demand on your muscles, hence offering a more intensive workout. Neither does it guarantee greater calorie burn or consumption. Heat by itself doesn’t burn calories.

Myth 3: The heated environment warms up muscles so injuries are less likely to occur

It is true that heat enhances vasodilation of the blood vessels so more blood is delivered to the muscles, making muscles more elastic and less susceptible to injury. However, certain people are just generally less flexible than others. So even within a heated environment, advanced yoga postures might prove too difficult for a participant (especially if he or she rarely exercises) and continuous insistence of achieving these postures can still result in injuries to the legs and back.

 

Ref: R14​