Loading... Please wait...
Does Hot Yoga Really Help You Lose Weight Fast?

Bikram yoga, which is more commonly known as hot yoga, involves doing a sequence of challenging yoga poses in a room that's heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit.

If this sounds extreme, it's because it is! The promise, though, is that you'll work on your muscles, building strength while stretching them out. The heat will also cause your heart rate to rise, leading to a cardiovascular workout that burns fat and calories. And the sweat that pours out of you will detoxify your body and help you lose weight.

But is hot yoga really effective when it comes to shedding extra pounds quickly?

Hot Yoga Burns More Calories
A yogi who weighs around 160 pounds can probably expect to burn around 477 calories during a hot yoga session. If that same person were to spend the same amount of time in a standard yoga class, such as a hatha yoga class, he or she would only burn roughly 189 calories. So it's pretty clear that a hot yoga class is more effective at getting rid of excess calories.

If you really think about it, hot yoga is a more intense aerobic exercise which forces your body to react by expanding your lungs to hold more oxygen and also puts more pressure on your overall cardiovascular system.

But What About Water Weight?
Even though you may burn more calories in a hot yoga class and feel a lot lighter by the end, you may just be losing a lot of water weight. In fact, most of the weight that you lose initially will be the result of excess water leaving your body as you sweat. But once this water weight is put back on (especially since it's vital to rehydrate after a hot yoga class), you'll also pack on a couple of pounds again too.

To avoid any confusion about how much weight you're actually losing as a result of your hot yoga classes, avoid weighing yourself right after class. Instead, weigh yourself first thing in the morning to gauge just how much you weigh before you consume foods and beverages. Keeping track of your weight in this manner every day will help you better track the progress of your weight loss goals.

Things to Consider Before Taking a Hot Yoga Class
Now that you know you can burn a lot more calories in a hot yoga class than you would in a regular yoga class, it's important to note that there are some things you should consider before signing up for one of these sessions.

  • Dizziness You may start to feel overwhelmed and dizzy during a hot yoga class. If this were to happen, the best thing to do would be to pause, start breathing through your nose with your eyes closed, and focus on regaining balance. The dizziness should pass, but if it doesn't, it's best to leave the room.
  • Hydrate You need to drink plenty of water (as much as 2 liters) before a hot yoga session to be hydrated enough to get through it without having to stop and drink along the way. Space out this water consumption throughout the day, though, as chugging it before class could make you feel nauseous. And only take sips throughout class when necessary. Drink coconut water to replenish electrolytes after class.
  • Eat light Avoid eating up to 2 hours before your class. If you feel hungry, though, snack on something light, such as applesauce or a banana, a little while before class.

Proceed with Caution
Hot yoga can be intense, so proceed with caution. Once you're used to it and you know how to keep your body energized and hydrated to get through it all, you'll notice that the practice can help you shed excess weight rather quickly.

by Kelly Bivens
Certified Personal Trainer, Yoga Instructor & Mom
Senior Contributing Editor,