Survive a couple rainy Vancouver winters, and you’ll know pretty quickly how beneficial heat can be to the body, the mind, and the soul. We’ve gathered a list of some of the greatest benefits of hot yoga and the heat right here.
Boosts Brain Health, Cognitive Function & Happiness
Sweating and heat exposure has been found to stimulate the release of the brain-boosting chemical: Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF). BDNF is a protein that plays a crucial role in promoting the growth, survival, and function of neurons in the brain. It is known to support the formation of new connections between brain cells and enhance neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s ability to adapt and change. Exercise, including Hot Yoga & Pilates that induce sweating, has been shown to increase BDNF levels, which can have beneficial effects on cognitive function, mood regulation, and overall brain health.
Sweating in a heated environment also stimulates the production of serotonin, commonly known as the “HAPPY Chemical” contributing to enhanced mood, reduced levels of depression and anxiety, and an overall feeling of improved happiness!
Stretching in a hot room improves flexibility in your muscles and increases range of motion in your joints. According to a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that after 8 weeks, Bikram yoga participants had better flexibility in their shoulders, lower back, and hamstrings
Heart & Lungs
Our Hot Yoga class (Pranayama – a specific type of yoga breathing exercise) trains your lungs to retain more air. Taking regular, deep breaths allows more oxygen to enter your bloodstream, and helps increase your lung capacity. Add in the heat, and your heart will beat faster creating the same effect as any aerobic exercise, which makes your body burn fat more effectively.
You can expect to burn between 400-700 calories, depending on the intensity and duration of the class. The hot yoga room will make you sweat, which means your body must work harder to regulate your temperature. That results in burning more calories compared to a traditional yoga class without heat.
Helps Manage Stress
A 2017 study in the Journal of Mental Health found that a 16-week program of hot yoga with sedentary adults improved mood and decreased stress levels. When you practice regularly, you’ll start to learn how the breathing techniques, stillness and the heat help your body and mind relax.
Helps Improve Depression Symptoms
According to a 2019 study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary and Medicine, an eight-week course of Bikram yoga helped reduce depression symptoms for middle-aged women, including self judgement, pessimism, poor quality of life, and reduced cognitive function.
Improves Skin Health
Increased sweat improves circulation and increases oxygen-rich blood to your skin, giving you that post-yoga glow! Sweating from exercise is also known to help reverse signs of aging from the cellular level.
Metabolism & Digestion
Your metabolism speeds up, which helps breakdown glucose and fatty acids. The increased metabolism improves your digestive system.