Consumer Reports reports on hot yoga and its dangers

Honestly, I can’t believe this took so long.

Consumer Reports is out with a report on the hot yoga fad. You’d think with 20 or so million people supposedly practicing yoga in the U.S. these days, it would have gotten to this already.

You can guess what it found, right? Well, here you have it (trimmed down for clarity):

Problem: Heat stroke

Why it happens: Exercising in the heat (outdoors or indoors) can overwhelm your body’s ability to control its core temperature. That can lead to heat stroke, a potentially fatal condition in which your heart, liver, kidney, and other organs shut down

Problem: Joint and muscle damage

Why it happens: Some people think they can stretch deeper in the heat. “Although it may feel good, overstretching your muscles actually backfires,” Win Chang, M.D., clinical professor of orthopedic surgery at New York University’s Hospital for Joint Diseases, said.

Problem: Infection

Why it happens: Hot, humid gyms can be a breeding ground for germs.

Umm… ewww?

Here’s how Consumer Reports describes hot yoga, in general:

For some, hot yoga is the ultimate chill breaker. One popular style, Bikram yoga, is done in a room heated to at least 105⁰ F. Fans say it helps you “sweat out toxins” and achieve deeper poses. Lady Gaga, Madonna, and Gwyneth Paltrow are among the celebrities recently spotted sweating it out. Its popularity has spawned several other sizzling exercise trends, including heated indoor cycling, hot Pilates, and (ballet) Barre “burn” classes. The problem is that these classes have safety risks.

Ashtanga, I hazard to guess, would come out OK according to these standards.

Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

3 thoughts on “Consumer Reports reports on hot yoga and its dangers”

  1. Also a nice read: Gregor Maehle in Ashtanga Yoga: Practice and Philosophy, p. 21. I concur, surprised it took this long; we go to great lengths to keep trained athletes safe in high temperatures – seems odd to ignore these safety issues with the general populace.

  2. Dear Santa Yoga,
    I would like a yoga which included:
    Ashtanga’s consentration on breath, drishti, bandhas, vinyasa, deeply rooted in Pantanjali.
    Iyengar and Anusara’s exact consentration on alignment.
    Bikram’s 105 degree, 40 percent humidity, hot rooms. If logic proves correct, would that not be similar to practicing in a crowded room with no a/c in India?
    Yoga To The People’s fee structure.
    Please advise…

  3. Many yogis believe they are sweating toxins out but in reality it is the kidneys and liver that remove waste from the body. Many people get so dehydrated in HOT yoga rooms that they stress their kidneys and probably slow down waste removal.
    Another thing to consider from this article is this last sentence from Dr. Chang which was not shown in your edited version. ” Win Chang, M.D., clinical professor of orthopedic surgery at New York University’s Hospital for Joint Diseases, said. “That ( yoga) can lead to joint problems, inflammation, and arthritis. Orthopedic surgeons are seeing more and more yoga injuries”, says Chang.
    Hot yoga rooms are definitely a health concern and also a waste of resources to use extra fuel to make rooms abnormally hot. However the statement about yoga injuries is what we need to pay attention too. Injuries are increasingly making the news and we all need to look deeper at the reasons this is happening.
    My work and research in creating YogAlign was in response to a need for a safe, stabilizing form of yoga with a focus on attaining naturally aligned posture rather than the performance of poses; Many yoga poses are more like contortion routines and do not even simulate real life functional movements which is quite possibly why there has been an increase in injuries. We all need to use discernment in yoga and insure that the physical practice leads to a favorable outcome .

    “ I see more yoga injuries in my practice than any other single sport or exercise activity”.
    Randy Marrinan, MD Interventional Spine and Sports Medicine Specialist at the Spine Center, Englewood, New Jersey

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