Health Team

Hot yoga craze comes with safety warning

Posted April 22, 2014

Yoga is a great way to get in shape and stretch those limbs.

Julianne Pepe has taken traditional classes for years, so she decided to change up her workout with Bikram hot yoga, where the heat is at least 105 degrees and the humidity around 40 percent.

"During the class, I felt lightheaded, fatigued, weak," she said. “I was completely exhausted."

Dr. Orly Avitzur, with Consumer Reports, suspects Pepe got dehydrated and was beginning to suffer heat exhaustion.

“While there is little specific research on hot yoga, we do know that exercising in extreme heat can cause a number of uncomfortable and even dangerous symptoms," she said.

Some warning signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke include feeling lightheaded or dizzy, nausea or muscle cramps.

Bikram practitioners say the heat and humidity promote health. Studio owner Rich Pike touts the benefits and said he hasn't had complaints about heat exhaustion.

"Heat allows you to bend safely and be more flexible,” he said. “What the sweating does is it eliminates toxins through your sweat."

Dr. Allen Mask with WRAL News says while the heat may help you stretch farther, don't go too far. Over-stretching could lead to joint and muscle damage. He  also encourage hot yoga practitioners bring their own towels and mats to avoid picking up a virus or bacteria, to stop if they feel weak and to always drink a lot of water.

Mask said anyone experiencing serious weakness, fever, vomiting or confusion during or after hot yoga should go to the nearest emergency room.


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  • UpChuck Apr 23, 2014

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    When you almost die, most people find it a time of religious experience.

  • Erica Konopka Apr 23, 2014
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    Hot yoga is awesome. It's almost a religious experience. I've always found regular yoga to be boring, but was instantly hooked the first time I tried Bikram yoga. Don't knock it til ya try it, and of course, go in with an understanding that you'll be working out for 90 minutes in high heat and humidity, and know the signs of heat exhaustion. When done SAFELY, hot yoga is a wonderful experience!

  • Doug Hanthorn Apr 23, 2014
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    Anyone who runs a class like this would be criminally negligent if they didn't warn the participants of the the signs of heat exhaustion at the beginning of every class.

  • Doug Hanthorn Apr 23, 2014
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    Indeed! By exercising in those hot humid condtions, you are forcing you body to do everything it can to cool off.

  • glarg Apr 23, 2014

    "Heat allows you to bend safely and be more flexible,” he said.

    Heh? He is aware that humans are warm blooded?

  • Peter Mescher Apr 23, 2014
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    Eliminating "toxins" through sweat? Errrr... no. Typical hippy-dippy pseudo-scientific nonsense. That's what your kidneys and liver are for, and they are much better at it. (Sweat consists of water, salts in whatever concentration they happen to be in your bloodstream, and a touch of urea. They don't have the osmotic filter apparatus your kidneys do that make them excrete toxins.) Increasing kidney output doesn't require taking yourself to the edge of heat-related illness, just a glass of water.