Ask Dr. Monti: Is Hot Yoga Safe?

Answer from Daniel A. Monti, director of the Jefferson-Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University and Hospital

Dr. Monti

Question: Is hot yoga safe?

Answer: I am a big fan of yoga, but it is important that you choose a form of it that fits your body and any limitations you may have. So called “hot” yoga refers to yogic practices performed in studios heated to as high as 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Humidity may be as high as 60 percent in some studios, which means a heat index of 149 degrees — which is pretty hot! Proponents feel that stretches and therapeutic benefits are enhanced in this hot environment.

If you do this type of yoga, it is important to guard against dehydration and even heat stroke from the excessive sweating. Watch for potential symptoms of heat exhaustion such as nausea, light headedness, sharply elevated pulse rate, cramps, fatigue, and blurred vision. Also, take it slow at first and let your body acclimate to the high temperature.

Medical conditions such as diabetes, pregnancy, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, eating disorders, sleep deprivation, a history of heat-related illness, and being overweight may increase the risk of developing a heat-related illness. There also are some medications that can contribute to heat imbalance and some that can be problematic with excessive sweating.

Remember to drink lots of water throughout your workout and to fluid load with about 16 ounces a couple hours prior. Coconut water is now commercially available and makes a nice isotonic option for maintaining hydration along with regular water.

E-mail Dr. Monti your question here, and he could answer it an upcoming blog post! Dr. Monti is Director of the Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and the author of “The Great Life Makeover”. Read more about him here.

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