The sign at a local hot yoga studio always brings a smile: “Sweat is fat crying!”

But as you walk into the hot yoga room for the first time – most are heated between 90°F and 110°F with 40-60% humidity ‒ you might balk as a wall of heat hits you. Yet, many practitioners swear by its benefits. We thought it might be helpful to explore the reasons behind practicing hot yoga.

Even Steel Bends If It Gets Hot Enough

Bending and twisting your way through a series of yoga poses is difficult, especially if you’re not a naturally flexible person. Sitting at a desk all day doesn’t lend itself to extreme flexibility. That’s where the heat comes in: the warmth created from the added heat and humidity in a hot yoga room can increase your flexibility, allowing you to stretch further and enabling your muscles to move more freely from pose to pose. By twisting, bending and stretching further, your body gives itself an internal organ massage, benefiting glands, ligaments and muscles from head to toe.

Promotes Mind-Body Connection

Spending 60 to 90 minutes in a super-heated room builds a “mind over matter” mentality. In fact, your instructor might even tell you during your first class that your challenge is to stay in the room. It’s out of most people’s comfort zone, but learning to tolerate an uncomfortable situation can be beneficial. If you can remain calm and focused in a hot yoga class with sweat dripping down your nose, you have a much better chance of outlasting a toddler meltdown or surviving a monster traffic jam without an outburst.

Massive Elimination of Toxins

Your skin is the largest organ in your body, and hot yoga causes a massive outflux of toxins through its pores. As you sweat these toxins out, you feel better, and the result can be a gorgeous “yoga glow” after class!

Burn Fat Faster

As your body heats up, metabolic processes increase in speed. Your heart rate will elevate and your body will burn fat more effectively, using it for the energy necessary to hold poses and keep your core temperature stable. This can lead to faster weight loss than from other forms of exercise.

Improved Immune Function

When you get a virus, your body raises its temperature to fight the infection – you know, a fever. The hot yoga room raises your body temperature by up to a full degree, which can help fight infections, improve T-cell function, weaken viruses and improve overall immune function. Hot yoga has also been credited with improving conditions including diabetes, arthritis, asthma and high blood pressure.

Better Focus

Yoga is like a guided meditation, where the practitioner listens to the instructor, focusing only on the balancing, strength or flexibility task at hand. As such, it is a lesson in mindfulness, or being fully present in the moment and doing one thing at a time. Improved focus in class will translate to tasks outside of class, enabling you to concentrate more fully for enhanced productivity.

“Yoga Sleep”

After working their way through an intense hot yoga class, working on balance, strength and flexibility, students report an improvement in their quality of sleep, which can also enhance the benefits gained during class.

Thinking about trying hot yoga? First, make sure you’re healthy enough to try it. Those with medical conditions, people who take certain medications or have heart problems should consult their doctors first.

If you’re healthy enough to try this extreme form of exercise, be sure to drink lots of water before, during and after class. Most importantly, listen to your body. If you feel nauseous or dizzy, sit down until you feel better. Hot yoga can be an intense experience; give yourself permission to acclimate to the heat at your own pace. And then, enjoy every sweaty moment!