Hot Yoga: How it Positively Affects our Mental Health & Overall Well-Being

By: Stephanie Blair, Holistic Nutritionist

Hot yoga has been a favourite of mine for many years now. For someone that sometimes has a hard time relaxing and clearing their mind (my brain sometimes doesn’t shut off), hot yoga has been great! I highly recommend it for people who really need to take a second to practice their deep breathing and just relax. I recommend attending a class any time of the day when you’re available to do so, especially a few hours before bed time. I like to sometimes attend a hot yoga class a few hours before bed time OR as part of my wellness weekend routine during the day on a Saturday or Sunday after a long week of work and before a new week starts, but either way, no matter what day or time you do it, having it a part of your routine will give you the best benefits in the long run.

It takes at least a month to build consistent habits that you can stick to. If you’re able to change your lifestyle habits for the better, I promise you’re never going to want to look back! Your mind and your body will thank you. Now let’s dive deep into the reasons why I love hot yoga and why I think you will too!

How it positively affects mental health and overall well-being

First off, mental health as we all know is SO important and is a part of our overall health and well-being – not just the food we eat, but how we think can dramatically affect our quality of life.

Hot yoga can help promote focus and awareness of breath, which helps boost mindfulness, calmness, relax the mind, and relieve chronic stress patterns.

It can also have a significant impact on your respiratory and circulatory systems as it helps with the proper functioning of the brain by supplying oxygenated blood. Practicing yoga in a hot environment boosts blood circulation, effectively distributing blood throughout your entire body and therefore improves cognitive functioning when you attend several sessions.

The goal of hot yoga is to promote relaxation and restoration for the mind, body and soul. It not only improves our mental health but it also regulates blood glucose levels! Research has shown that hot yoga can improve glucose tolerance in adults with obesity. According to studies, Bikram yoga in particular can be beneficial for managing blood sugar levels in those who are overweight or obese. Bikram yoga is a trademarked form of hatha yoga where 26 postures are performed.

Hot yoga also helps you burn more calories. Naturally when your body is exposed to heat, it’s going to burn more calories and make you sweat. The high temperature causes your body to double its efforts in cooling itself off. If you’re doing a less intense yoga class, you could burn around 150+ calories in 50 minutes, which you could easily burn during a leisurely walk as well! Or you can burn up to 240+ calories doing a more intense yoga class

Hot yoga can also promote heart health! Exercising in heat can be a challenging workout, even if you’re not using weights and just pure body weight. Your body naturally works harder in hotter temperatures. Always make sure to speak to a health professional if you have any health concerns or issues before trying hot yoga as it makes the heart work harder.

As you can see, hot yoga has numerous benefits on our body and mind. For someone like myself who struggles with relaxation at times, I lean towards hot yoga to be my calming place when I really need to take that deep breath and reconnect with my body and mind. I always feel good after a session and allows me to focus on breathwork that I may not schedule time for during a busy day!

Sometimes attending classes of any kind can be intimidating when doing it alone, so it can be really fun to grab a friend, family member or your partner and do it together! This can also help encourage you to be more consistent with it than doing it alone.

Most importantly, make sure you’re hydrating your body with enough water! After a sweat session, refueling with a electrolytes is helpful to replenish those lost during a workout or hot yoga session.