You have probably heard of it in your social clique and fitness freaks are raving about it, but what is hot yoga anyway, and most importantly why is it any different than the regular hatha yoga?

The brainchild of Bikram Choudhury, hot yoga also known as Bikram yoga is an improvisation on the traditional yoga form. The difference however lies in the condition in which it is practiced. As the name suggests hot yoga is mainly done in an extremely warm studio with temperature set around 105 degree Fahrenheit and the humidity too is raised.

According to Choudhury, hot yoga has deeper effects as the change in temperature creates pressure, which in turn increases circulation in the body and stimulates every joint and muscle. Additionally, this also pushes the participants to put in more effort thus doubling the weight loss result as compared to traditional form.

How effective is hot yoga?

Scientifically what happens is that the environment creates a compression-extension effect on the body by working on one or two areas at a time. Suppose a particular asana is aimed at reducing belly fat, during hot yoga the same asana will have double the effect as the pressure in the room will cut off the blood supply in the veins and arteries around the stomach region, thus forcing the heart to pump more blood to the area and leading to a rush in the supply of blood to these regions.

This technique works in two ways- one by eliminating the toxins and two by getting the heart rate up.

Traditionally not a lot of people consider yoga as an effective weight loss technique that would provide relatively faster results. Yoga does indeed help in losing weight but it takes quite some time. This improvisation has packed on the cardio benefit by escalating the heart rate throughout the session. The dual effect of cardio and proper stretching of the muscles and joints helps to both lose weight and strengthen muscles while increasing flexibility.

If you have signed up for hot yoga for weight loss be prepared to sweat buckets. Obviously the high level of temperature and humidity will make you sweat twice as you would have while doing regular yoga. Consider hot yoga as coupling a sauna session with a holistic and thorough body workout.

What to expect?

In totality hot yoga comprises of 26 different asana that ensure a complete body workout and the spike in heart rate gives the benefit of cardio. Keep in mind that even though the temperature varies from one studio to another, it is going to extremely hot in any case. If at any time you feel uncomfortable or uneasy, speak to your instructor and go to a relatively cooler place.

It is normal for people to feel nauseous and tired during and after the session. If you are not in the habit of working out regularly, subjecting your body to a moderate to high powered hot yoga will induce nausea. In fact even the regular practitioners sometime feel drained- just remember to hydrate your body often to replenish the water lost through sweat. And yes the adequate amount of water for your body is not the amount that you drink whenever you are thirsty, do not keep thirst as an indication of your body’s hydration level. Thirst in reality is the last straw, when your body’s requirement for water is at its most; that is when you feel thirsty. If you are going to be practicing hot yoga often, keep drinking a glass of water every hour.

What to keep in mind?

Some nutritionists suggest adding a teaspoon of sugar and one-fourth teaspoon of salt to a bottle of water and drinking this mixture throughout the session. Nausea is also a symptom of salt depletion from the body and having this mixture will both energize you for longer workouts and curb the feeling of nausea.

Wear lightweight, breathable fabric that doesn’t cling to your body and weighs down on being drenched with sweat. Some people prefer wearing swimsuits during the session, but it is entirely an individual choice.

If you are wondering about the kind of diet to follow along with hot yoga, the ideal suggestion is to eat everything in moderation. However, before the class eat a filling (not heavy) meal at least three hours before the session and avoid dairy products. A lot of people have reported feeling nauseous during workout if they have had dairy products prior to the session. A peanut butter sandwich is the best option as peanut butter contains carbohydrate and helps you to work out better.

You would feel immensely tired and drained after a thorough hot yoga session. Plus for the first couple of days you are bound to get muscle ache; just run a bath and add some Epsom salt as it helps to relax the muscles and heal the ache. And do not forget to hydrate your body after the session as well.

It is best to do hot yoga under the vigilance and guidance of a certified Bikram yoga trainer so that you get optimum benefits. Remember hot yoga is not just about the temperature or the poses.

Author's Bio: 

My name is Mulyadi Kurnia. I am a practitioner of meditation and yoga and has been experiencing the benefits of the practices. Having gone through the periods of stress and anxiety myself, I know first hand of how unpleasant this experience could be. Through this article, I intend to share my knowledge and experience on stress-related and wellness topics. For more information on stress management and wellness tips, visit