warm yoga

Warm Yoga: Definition, Benefits, Tips and Cautions

Published on September 27, 2023

Warm yoga can be a challenging and invigorating way to deepen your yoga practice and improve your overall well-being. By embracing the warmth of a heated studio, you can experience the many health benefits of increased flexibility, improved circulation, weight loss, detoxification, and mental well-being. Whether you’re a seasoned yogi or just beginning your journey, warm yoga is an excellent way to take your practice to the next level.

What is warm yoga?

Warm yoga, also known as heated yoga, is a style of hatha yoga that is practiced in a room that is heated to a temperature between 80 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit (18-30°C). Practicing in this heated environment adds a layer of challenge to a traditional yoga practice, as it requires the body to work harder, raises the heart rate, and encourages sweating and a greater calorie burn. Warm yoga classes are typically a flow or vinyasa style of class, incorporating a sequence of movements that are synchronized with their breath, like the sun salutations.

Benefits of a warm yoga practice

The key benefit of warm classes is that practicing in a heated studio quickly warms up the muscles, ligaments, and joints, which promote greater flexibility and range of motion. The heat also helps to improve circulation and increase blood flow to the muscles, which can help to reduce the risk of injury and improve overall athletic performance.

Warm yoga can improve respiratory function and boost the immune system. The deep breathing exercises practiced during the class can help to clear the lungs and increase oxygen flow, while the heat can help to stimulate the lymphatic system, which helps to remove toxins from the body. It also encourages weight loss by increasing metabolism and promoting detoxification through sweating. Expect to burn around 300 calories for an hour-long class.

Warm yoga is often a more challenging workout than regular yoga, which builds grit, endurance, and inner strength. The warmth can help to release tension and stress, leaving you feeling more relaxed and centered, and improving overall health and mental wellbeing.

Warm yoga vs hot yoga

The primary difference between a warm and hot yoga class is the temperature of the room. Hot yoga classes are typically held in rooms heated to 90-105 degrees Fahrenheit, while warm classes are held at a lower temperature, usually around 80-85 degrees Fahrenheit. While both types of yoga classes offer similar benefits, such as increased flexibility, improved circulation, and reduced stress, there are some key differences to keep in mind.

Hot yoga is better suited for people looking to sweat more and detoxify their bodies, and it is usually an intense workout for experienced yogis who want a high level of challenge and intensity in their practice. Warm classes offer a gentler approach to a hot yoga practice, with a focus on slower movements, deeper stretches and less challenging poses. This makes it a great option for those who are new to yoga, have injuries, or prefer a more relaxed practice. Warm yoga also provides a comfortable environment for those who may not tolerate extreme heat well.

Warm yoga tips

If you’re new to practicing in a heated room, it’s important to take some precautions to ensure a safe and effective practice. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Hydrate: It’s crucial to drink plenty of water before, during, and after your warm yoga practice. The heat can cause you to sweat more than usual, so it’s important to replenish your fluids. It is recommended to bring a bottle of water to the class.
  • Dress appropriately: It is important to wear clothing that is comfortable, moisture-wicking, and allows for unrestricted movement. Many people choose to wear shorts, sports bras, and tank tops to stay cool in the heat. However, if you prefer more coverage, lightweight leggings or capris can also be a good option. When choosing your clothing, it is important to avoid materials that trap sweat, such as cotton, as this can make you feel uncomfortable and weighed down during your practice. Avoid heavy fabrics that may weigh you down or cause overheating. Avoid constricting fabrics that can hinder your movements or cause discomfort.
  • Proper gear: A warm yoga mat is essential for this yoga style. Look for a mat specifically designed for hot yoga, as it will provide better grip and traction than a regular yoga mat. If you are prone towards excessive sweating, consider adding a yoga towel on top of your mat for extra grip and to avoid slips and falls. Bring a hand towel to dry off any excess sweat on your hands and face.
  • Listen to your body: Pay attention to any discomfort or pain during your practice. If you feel dizzy, lightheaded, or nauseous, take a break and rest. Don’t push yourself beyond your limits, and remember that it’s okay to modify or skip any yoga poses if needed.
  • Use props: Props like blocks and straps can help you achieve proper alignment and support your body in certain poses. Don’t be afraid to use them if they enhance your practice, but studios may not have cloth bolsters or blankets available because of cleanliness issues.
  • Choose a qualified instructor: Look for a qualified and experienced yoga instructor who can guide you through the practice safely and effectively. They should be able to modify poses to meet your individual needs and provide hands-on adjustments to help you deepen your practice..
  • Don’t eat a heavy meal before class: It’s best to eat a light, healthy snack a couple of hours before your warm practice. Avoid heavy or spicy foods that may cause digestive discomfort during class.

Finding a suitable class

It is essential to do your research and find a reputable yoga studio that offers warm classes led by experienced and certified instructors. Look for a studio that has a dedicated hot yoga room with temperature and humidity control, as this will ensure a consistent and safe practice environment. Consider the class schedule and the level of difficulty offered. It is important to start with a beginner’s level class if you are new to practicing in a heated room, or have limited experience with yoga in general. This will allow you to familiarize yourself with the poses and the heat gradually, reducing the risk of injury or discomfort. As you advance, you can gradually increase the difficulty and intensity of your practice.

Cautions

It is important to note that warm classes may not be suitable for everyone, particularly those who have certain medical conditions. Pregnant women or individuals with heart conditions, high blood pressure, diabetes, or respiratory issues should consult with their doctor before attending a heated yoga class. It is also important to stay hydrated during the practice, as the warm environment can cause dehydration. It is advisable to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new exercise regimen.

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Timothy Burgin Avatar
About the author
Timothy Burgin is a Kripalu & Pranakriya trained yoga instructor living and teaching in Asheville, NC. Timothy has studied and taught many styles of yoga and has completed a 500-hour Advanced Pranakriya Yoga training. Timothy has been serving as the Executive Director of YogaBasics.com since 2000. He has authored two yoga books and has written over 500 articles on the practice and philosophy of yoga. Timothy is also the creator of Japa Mala Beads and has been designing and importing mala beads since 2004.
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