Dangers of hot yoga
Think the new Hunger Games movie Catching Fire is hot? Well hot yoga for many is even hotter—literally. From famous celebrities to everyday people, hot yoga has quickly become a staple for countless fitness routines.
But a new study suggests the popular workout also known as Bikram yoga, which includes a series of 26 asanas or postures could be dangerous for some. Hot yoga is typically performed in a heated studio with temperatures ranging anywhere between 90 to 105 degrees at 40 percent humidity. Working out under these extreme conditions alone can be challenging for some participants. And according to researchers at Duke University, several injuries also appear to be linked to the practice.
The team there recently took a closer look at 76 common yoga-related injuries—uncovering a tie to the hot yoga practice along with Hatha (an umbrella term for physical yoga practices) and Pranayama, (a style focused on breathing control).
Should you quit?
No, the good news is that the practice itself may not be fully to blame. The study suggests that three specific postures could be the main culprits for the injuries; including shoulder stands, headstands and the lotus position, which led to ligament tears, joint damage and musculoskeletal and other fractures.
Even though headstands and shoulder stands are not part of the 26 Bikram postures, they are often incorporated into hot yoga routines. That’s why researchers say they aren’t advising people to skip hot yoga. They simply suggest beginners avoid these challenging and often tricky positions.
However, if you insist on not being the odd man out in class, you should definitely get instructor support, especially with headstands and shoulder stands. The key scientists say is to do what you can and at your own pace—noting that Bikram-style yoga tends to be very hot and competitive.
Teresa Beckman, a physical therapist at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Ill. says that overworking tendons and muscles can have negative effects on joints as well. “You have to listen to your body, and focus on good form while exercising.”
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.
Thank you for the great article! I began practicing hot yoga two years ago and wouldn’t do it any other way. There are moments in the 75 minute practice where participants can move into the positions you listed as potentially dangerous, but it is always optional. Part of a yogi’s practice is knowing your body (and its limits). Namaste.