I get it.
We’ve all seen those photos of gorgeous, uber-toned people, yoga mat rolled up under their arm, with that smug post-hot yoga glow and a fresh, green juice in hand. But the burning question is this: is hot yoga good for weight loss?
With dozens of fitness trends popping up on your radar, promising the perfect way to get in shape, it’s hard to know what the facts really are. While it might be pretty sweaty stuff, does hot yoga really work?
The good news is, I’m going to lay out the facts on how you can make hot yoga a great part of your fitness goals, and squeeze out any useless myths you might have heard.
By the end of this, you’ll be ready to grab your mat and a bottle of water, to work towards the body of your dreams!
What’s So Special About Hot Yoga?
Well, the clue’s in the name. It’s hot. Not just a little bit cozy, but sweating-from-the-back-of-your-eyeballs hot.
If you’ve ever been in a sauna, then you’ll know the kind of feeling I’m talking about.
And as anyone who’s been in a sauna can tell you, there’s just something about that intense, delicious heat that feels really good for your body.
So why exactly is feeling like you’ve been basted like a turkey in the oven meant to be good for you?
Spending time in the intense heat, like in a hot yoga class, has a host of health benefits. It’s been known to improve your circulation, as you’ll find that your heart beats faster to help your body cool down, which has the added perk of raising your heart level and your metabolism.
It also helps flush toxins from your body, as you’re sweating buckets – and hopefully drinking lots of fresh water to replace it. That can help you feel cleaner inside and out, as your skin looks clearer, your eyes look brighter, and your digestive system feels less sluggish.
Sweating like mad in a hot yoga class also helps to relieve stress, reducing the symptoms of depression and anxiety – which can have a knock-on effect on all the other reasons we often put weight on.
So far, so good. So, what are the benefits of hot yoga for weight loss?
Can Hot Yoga Actually Burn Fat?
The number one question on everyone’s mind – can hot yoga really burn through the calories to give you that super toned waistline you’ve been dreaming of?
Here’s the really exciting news – yes, it can!
While some fans of hot yoga put forward some really crazy numbers about the kind of calories you might burn in a hot class, the reality is a little more moderate.
Depending on your individual build and the type of class you do, you could expect to burn between 300- 600 calories a class.
To put it in perspective, that can be roughly the equivalent of an average sized person running a 5K.
Of course, there’s a significant difference between yoga and running – and depending on your goals, a balance of the two might be the ideal formula.
But if you’re still wondering, if hot yoga is good for weight loss, the kind of yoga you do can also make a big difference.
What Style of Yoga is Best For Weight Loss?
Before you ask – no, I’m not talking about goat yoga.
You’ll often come across lots of different types of yoga classes, and despite the heat, they can all have different benefits.
Some yoga classes, such as Hatha-based styles, are usually slower and more static, as you’ll hold poses for a while. While you’ll still work up a sweat because of the heat, in reality, you won’t burn that many calories.
For a more powerful workout, check out “vinyasa” style classes, such as power yoga, ashtanga or the aptly named Rocket yoga.
Vinyasa-based classes will feature more dynamic, flowing sequences, and you’ll often be moving to the next pose much faster, with tough routines set to music, that will boost your strength, balance, and flexibility.
Turn up the heat, and these dynamic classes can be even more challenging. While just being in a hot room isn’t enough to burn extra calories, the combination of moving at a faster pace and increasing your heart rate can help you lose weight.
Isn’t yoga just stretching?
So why is hot yoga good for weight loss?
How Hot Yoga Helps With Weight Loss?
It’s more than just the sweat factor.
Yoga often gets compared to Pilates, but while you’ll usually do both of them on a mat, there are quite a few differences. Pilates is a great exercise for improving muscle tone, helping with posture, and building core strength.
Yoga meanwhile focuses on a combination of the whole body, breath, and mind, and it’s the blend of all three that can help you achieve your weight loss goals.
Dynamic hot yoga classes will focus on moving all parts of your body. A typical class will leave you feeling the burn in your upper and lower body, as well as your core, and the challenging balance poses will also help build strength and stability overall.
Hot yoga is also brilliant for helping improve your flexibility. Because of the heat, you won’t need to spend so much time warming up, and your muscles will feel a lot easier to stretch, helping you get into more challenging poses, much more easily.
Never been able to touch your toes? Hot yoga might just change that.
Drink Away the Calories
The sweatiness doesn’t hurt, either.
Chances are, the first time you step into a hot yoga class, you’ll probably sweat half your body weight onto the mat. While you can’t expect to simply sweat out the excess pounds, the side effect of getting really sweaty – that is, drinking a lot of water afterward – can have lots of health benefits.
Drinking more water can help improve your metabolism, which means your body will burn more calories, even while you do your usual daily activities.
Hydrating more can also leave you feeling fuller for longer, helping you cut back on calorie intake, and boosting your weight loss even more.
Just be sure to keep your post-yoga hydration fix sugar-free to enjoy all the benefits!
Hot yoga sounds pretty good so far.
But this last one might surprise you.
Mind Over Matter
The other big reason why hot yoga is so good for weight loss? It’s all in the mind.
Just like settling into a nice, steamy sauna, going to a hot yoga class can feel really good.
The warm room, energizing music, challenging movements, uplifting teachers and relaxed breathing all help you to reduce stress, and yoga classes have been found to increase levels of that special feel-good hormone, oxytocin while reducing levels of stress hormones.
That might explain that smug, loved-up, yoga glow we see on celebrity hot yoga aficionados.
But feeling less stressed, calmer and more relaxed also has an added benefit on your waistline. But cutting back on stress, it can also help you overcome some of the other behaviors related to stress, that lead to putting on weight.
Comfort eating and drinking are two of the biggest culprits when it comes to those hard to shift extra inches, and managing your stress better, by going to a regular hot yoga class, might do more for your weight loss goals than any crash diet.
And this might sound like a total no-brainer – but doing something you enjoy helps too.
Once you get over the pools of sweat next to everyone’s mat, a challenging hot yoga class can give you a real sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. And the sweet, meditative relaxation at the end is the perfect way to wrap it all together.
Let’s face it – you’re much more likely to stick to an exercise program that actually feels good!
So if you’re still asking if hot yoga is good for weight loss, the answer is, it really can help you get that gorgeous yoga bod.
Let’s Sum it Up
The heat’s a great way of boosting your energy levels and metabolism, upping the number of calories you burn in a class. And a tough, fast-paced, dynamic hot yoga class is going to get you even more svelte and toned.
You’ll also experience a ton of other benefits that all help to boost weight loss – hydration to cleanse out your body, from drinking all the extra water, and simply feeling calmer and less likely to want that extra comfort cookie at the end of a stressful day. Put it all together, and you’ve got a winning combo for a great, all-around fitness activity, to help you look and feel great.
Have you tried hot yoga? Was it love at first down dog, or were you tired by tree pose? Let us know what you think of hot yoga in the comments below!