I’ll be upfront and honest – I have never tried hot yoga. It’s been on my radar for some time, and since a new studio popped up in my neighborhood, I’m seriously considering checking it out.

But I’ve always wondered what the effect of heat and humidity is on the body. There’s a reason we don’t like to go outside to do anything when it’s 98˚ and 40% humidity. It feels extra hard on your body when you’re expending energy not only to complete a task but also sweating like crazy and trying to regulate body temperature.

the science behind hot yoga ae wellness

I had concocted a whole plan on how I was going to take hot yoga and measure body temperature at multiple times throughout the day to see my reaction. But this would have been a sample size of only one, plus, I would have to collect at least a week’s worth of temperature samples to be as accurate as possible.

Thank goodness, ACE (American Council on Exercise) was wondering the same thing and sponsored a study! The study was part of Ashley N. Nereng’s Doctoral Dissertation at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse in 2013. The research team looked at heart rate and core temperature responses during basic yoga compared to hot yoga. What did they find?

While it feels like you’re working extra hard in a hot yoga class, your core temperature and heart rate are only a few points different. The difference in average heart rate and core temperature were found to be significantly different.

What does this mean? First of all, I am forever impressed on how efficient the human body is at responding to stimuli. Drop you in a hot room, and all of your systems work together to keep you at homeostasis. And secondly, all my concerns (which were mostly personal complaints because I hate the heat) about hot yoga were unfounded. Yes, it’s hot. No, you won’t break.

I’m very much looking forward to my first hot yoga experience, and I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes. I imagine it will involve a lot of sweat, me complaining, and then wondering why I subjected myself to such torture. And then feeling like a million bucks and going back and doing it all over again.

Have you done hot yoga? Any advice for a beginner?

References: Nereng, Ashley N. Heart rate and core temperature responses during basic yoga compared to hot yoga. Diss. UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-LA CROSSE, 2013.


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