A coworker recently gave me the idea to try early morning yoga before work, to get some exercise in before I’m tired from a day behind a desk. I’ve been practicing yoga for over a year now, and it sounded like a good idea. I checked my regular yoga studio, but they don’t offer early morning classes. I began checking around and found several studios that do, but all of them are ‘hot’ yoga classes, meaning the room is heated above normal temperatures, into the 80s, 90s or even up to 105.
The idea behind hot yoga is that you will sweat more, and that will release toxins from your body. What could be bad about that?
First of all, there is no medical research to suggest that you do release toxins while you sweat. In fact, modern medicine tells us that while trace amounts of toxins are released in your sweat, they are insignificant compared to the amount passed through the kidneys and digestive system. So the main reason for hot yoga is bogus.
Okay, so it doesn’t really work, but it’s still yoga, what’s the big deal? There are two problems I have with supporting the idea of hot yoga. The first is that exercising in heat is actually not good for you. Once the temperature starts to climb your body has to work harder to keep cool, which means less oxygen (read: energy) can get to your working muscles. This means you’re more likely to get cramps, muscle strains and tire out quickly, even though you didn’t work your muscles as hard. If the ambient temperature is too high, especially at or above body temperature, your body can’t effectively cool down through evaporating sweat. This means you could suffer heat exhaustion or even heat stoke in a relatively short period of time. Furthermore, all of the sweat escaping your body could lead to dehydration, which puts an extra strain on your kidneys, preventing them from actually flushing toxins from your body.
My second reason for being opposed to hot yoga is that spreading false information about health is bad for people. At the very least it is confusing. People who are misinformed will continue to spread these silly ideas, increasing the risk of people sweating themselves into illness. It might even cause someone who needs some sort of detoxifying treatment (most people don’t) like chelation, to opt for a more natural approach, like sweat therapy, which is completely ineffective. Stopping or just delaying treatment in this case could lead to long term illness, like cancer or organ damage, or even premature death. I think this is pretty unlikely in most cases, but it’s not as far-fetched as you might think. Keep in mind that some people in the world, even doctors, believe that having a fan on all night can cause hypothermia or suck the air out of a room and kill you.
So, for those reason, I refuse to pay for heated classes. I’m voting with my dollars, and I encourage others to do the same.