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Can Hot Yoga Help To Lose Weight Faster?

November 3rd, 2008 · 36 Comments ·


Bikram Yoga, which is also known as Hot Yoga, is getting more popular among yoga community. One of the key reasons is that people believe that hot yoga will help them to lose weight in a quick and easy way. The perception comes from the experience of sweating profusely in the class.


Now, is it true that Bikram Yoga will help you to lose weight? Read on to find out more.

Bikram Yoga class is conducted in a room heated to 105°F (40.5°C) with a humidity of 40%. Therefore, everyone will sweat like pig. Some gyms are pushing hot yoga packages to their members with the following claims:

  1. Hot yoga make you sweat. The more you sweat, the more calories you burn.
  2. Sweating will also detoxify your body with healthier circulatory system which brings positive effect on metabolism. With better metabolism, you can shed your weight easily.
  3. Warm temperature warm your muscles easily. By warming your muscles, you can burn fat easily.
  4. Hot yoga will help build your willpower and mental strength that comes from the challenge of practicing yoga in a heated environment. You can then resist temptation to overeat and will lose weight.

Now, are all of the claims true?


Let’s look at the first and second point.  Hot yoga makes you sweat.  Fine, but is sweating really a good indication of detoxification and therefore helping you to lose weight faster? Is it really one of the best detox methods out there? When you sweat, you lose mainly water. Once you drink water to rehydrate yourself, you will regain the weight. In fact, it is not true that the more you sweat, the more calories you burn. Check out my article of The Truth Behind Losing Weight by Having Sauna or Steam Bath which is based on the same concept.

As for the third point saying warmed muscles will burn fat easily. I do not find any scientific proof about the direct correlation between warmed muscles and calories burning.

Last point, hot yoga build your willpower. I think that it is possible and it may really work for some people.  But, many other sports or activities you can do so to build the similar mental strength too.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying hot yoga is bad. Hot yoga, just like the other types of yoga, is good. My thought on this issue:

  • My concern is that people are expecting miracle after attending only few sessions of the hot yoga class. Right after the class, some people will quickly stand on the scale and jump for joy after seeing the “weight loss”. Those are temporary loss. Like other exercise, you can only see results after attending Bikram yoga for several times a week and for at least few months. After practicing yoga for sometime, you will develop muscle tone through various asanas or postures.
  • Second, hot yoga should NOT be the only weight loss tool if you seriously want to lose weight. You need to have health eating plan and do other exercise too. In fact, other cardiovascular exercise such as jogging, swimming or cycling may help you lose weight faster than yoga.

Weight loss should not be the only reason you start learning yoga. Yoga improves flexibility and also help release stress. At the end of the day, exercising frequently is important to lose weight and maintain your weight. So, if you join Yoga class next time, do not expect you will experience weight loss immediately. Treat it as a bonus if you really lose weight.






Category: Yoga

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36 responses so far ↓
  • Karin // Nov 3, 2008 at 9:21 AM

    We will just discussing this topic with our yoga teachers the other day and most of us agreed that hot yoga does not help to loose weight but might result in dehydration. We are told that we should only stay in a sauna for not more than 10 minutes but people are doing yoga in a hot room for an hour!

    I have attended a hot yoga class and nearly fainted due to the poor ventilation coupled with the Malaysian hot weather as the class was held on a Saturday afternoon.

  • Keane // Nov 3, 2008 at 12:05 PM

    Going for yoga can surely make us slim. But due to busy life it might not be possible ti go for this work outs. Going for good weight loss diet will surely do for me to get my weight down. It is really the best way.

  • gWallet // Nov 3, 2008 at 5:22 PM

    I’ve heard about this as well, and to be honest, I’m not entirely convinced. Yoga is like any other sporting activity – something that requires the body to act and react to various scenarios. I’ve yet to see ‘hot’ running, or ‘hot’ cycling, etc. Put in these terms, wouldn’t this almost run the risk of being dangerous?

  • smittenkitt // Nov 4, 2008 at 6:38 AM

    Since my friend is yoga instructor and she teaches hot yoga, so I tried some of her hot yoga opinion is there are many options to lose weight, doing yoga alone might not make you lose weight but…yoga can be alternative as varitety of your workout and practicing your flexibility.

  • Oliver // Nov 4, 2008 at 10:47 AM

    ya..Mun, Good article and you are right, in fact, some of the Hot yoga instrutor look mealty but they are conducting hot yoga almost everyday more then 1 to 2 class.

    The 4 points claims from those gyms are just MARKETING GIMMICK!!, I in Marketing industry and I know how is their pratice..

  • Mortal // Nov 5, 2008 at 6:16 PM

    I have never tried yoga, but i have tried pilates, and I know people who swear by it, so I definately believe that for some body types and for some people, yoga or pilates is a good way to go, even when it comes to weight loss.

  • Nappy // Nov 11, 2008 at 3:58 AM

    I’ve done hot yoga 3x-4x a week. I can say it doesn’t help me lose any weight. However, I have pre-hypertension and after doing yoga, my blood pressure has gone down to normal. I do have increased flexibility, but this might just be a result of all the stretching in yoga, not hot yoga specifically.

  • muchacha // Nov 14, 2008 at 4:10 PM

    Tried hot yoga enough to not like it. Here’s why
    1. The excessive sweating from the forehead made me lose focus
    2. As the body becomes damp &/wet from the sweating, binding and balance poses become even more challenging
    3. Unlike power or ashtanga yoga, there is no cooling down period

  • reem // Jun 9, 2009 at 6:56 AM

    I tried it for about 8 sesions before i got married; i was eating healthy, was working out twice a DAY and then did bikram’s yoga 2-3 times a week. I lost weight but i wouldn’t attribute that to the yoga solely. I agree with the author of the article, after every session I’d lose a lot of water weight and then gain it back. But, from experience I’d say that yoga makes your muscles stronger and improves your posture, and that is very important when trying to lose weight which not a lot of people realize. When you’re using the right muscles even daily walking can help you burn more calories than usual only because you’re using your core muscles more. I had to learn to use my core to stabalize myself during the yoga moves probably because my other muscles had losened up because of the heat. Hence during my other wokouts too, I wasn’t substituting my core for my thighs or shoulder or back. Thats my two cents.

  • Nappy // Jul 12, 2009 at 9:48 AM

    After practising for over 1 year, at least 3x a week. I have lost about 5 lbs. Overall, I don’t think it’s a good/fast way to lose weight, but that’s not really the reason that I continue to practise yoga…

  • Karen Mount // Aug 11, 2009 at 7:30 PM

    Bikram yoga balances the hormones and realigns your body. The effect it has is to rebalance your digestive system as well so that if you are someone who overeats you have no desire to do so and the sort of food you fancy changes, for example I now have a penchant for melons. If you undereat it changes that as well. Being overweight is the result of an inbalance in your body, attitude and lifestyle, this is where yoga comes in and I have found when I practice regularly I do lose weight and feel lighter.

  • Tina // Sep 6, 2009 at 2:01 AM

    I started hot yoga about weeks now. i am doing it 5 times a week (atleast so far). i feel nauseaus/dizzy every so often, but i take plenty of small water breaks and deep breathing which really makes all the difference. i haven’t lost any weight (not that i expected to so soon) but i do notice i am standing taller, i am stronger (asanas i couldnt’ do 2 weeks ago, i can sorta do them now). and i am a tad little itsy bitsy leaner (especially around my thighs/hips) which is soooo motivating!! i am 5.2inches tall, 130 lbs. had a baby 2 months ago. i am looking to lose 20lbs hopefully soon. i am trying to eat healthy too, but you know how that goes…..*sigh*

  • A // Dec 23, 2009 at 9:08 AM

    Sweating does help you detoxify, the water you drink on a daily basis helps flush out toxins in the first place by urination, sweating is a bonus for eliminating waste. Why do you think your sweat smells so bad? You’re getting rid of harsh chemicals in your body. You don’t lose weight right away, hot yoga is here to help find balance in the body, if you need to gain or lose weight it will happen, you need to practice quite a bit before results. Obviously you’re going to see you lost a few pounds right after class, you just sweated out 5lbs of water! An average person gains and loses 5lbs on a daily basis, depending on how much you eat, how much you drink, how often you eliminate waste.

    The part about metabolism is also based on how and what you eat. If you starve your body all day then indulge in something late at night the meal usually goes straight to fat, or if you eat tons of carbs, meat or junk food.. well it’s not exactly going to create healthy cells are they? If you mess up your eating schedule all the time, your body will get used to that and always do the same thing to your foods – store it as fat. It’s recommended that you eat 5 or 6 small meals a day.. that’s pretty crazy and takes lots of time. It’s best to bring tons of healthy snacks around with you (carrots,almonds,apples) so when you’re out you don’t go into starvation mode until you actually get a chance to make or buy a meal. Also in Hot yoga there are many positions that stimulate the pituitary gland, which is the main controller of your metabolism. By stimulation this gland your body will have a better chance at controlling a healthy weight for you.

    You warm your muscles so that you don’t injure your body and that you’re able go deeper into the stretches. Try doing a simple posture when you’re body isn’t warmed up properly you’ll see that you have difficulty and it’s painful! It’s like any other exercise you need to be properly prepared. Yoga helps you create balance and stability, the postures help work each and every little muscle in parts of your body, you can increase strength and elongate your spine. There’s tons of spinal postures, and everyone knows that your spine is connected to every part of you body. So by stimulating the spine you’ll receive many benefits.

    Now, the will power part is basically you trying to breathe, do each and every pose to the best of your ability without letting your body take control of you, you’re not allowed to let the sweat dripping onto your face, the heat, your mind telling you “you can’t do this” Because it’s mind over matter!! No matter what happens in the room, just breathe and focus. It’s meditation. It’s like any other form of meditation- clear your mind, focus on one thing.. even if you just meditate in your home for 20 minutes a day, well that’s increasing your mindpower! It’s not easy.. to think of nothing, all these words popup or feelings or ideas. Even with extra meditation it’s still hard to only focus on hot yoga postures, that’s why practice makes perfect right?

    I don’t think I know any workout that you see results faster than hot yoga. Wait at least a month before you notice anything! If you’re not happy with your results in class, like you’re not bending over backwards enough, or you cant lock your knee.. think about when you are in class- do you try that hard? Are you really wanting to improve?Are you doing the bare minimum? If you focus on little things, like locking your knees, Just make sure on those postures you LOCK YOUR KNEE! And don’t think of ANYTHING else! Very soon you’ll notice it’s becoming easier. You can do anything if you put your mind to it.

  • Matt // Jan 17, 2010 at 4:42 PM

    To the poster above, sweat doesn’t smell bad because it’s full of toxins. Most of the time sweat smells because of the bacteria and dirt that’s on our bodies. Bacteria feeds on it, and the biproduct produces the smell. As far as weightloss, yep, bikram can help you lose weight. But as with any fitness activity, the usual caveats are attached, along with some others. Like drinking much more water than you would doing any other excercise or simply laying down or sitting if you do feel faint. My classmate has lost 30 lbs. I can’t speak to the benefits of sitting in a hot room while you do nothing but stay still and sweat. What I can say is that doing these postures will force you to engage certain muscle groups while disengaging others. You will find your muscles firming up and reconfiguring as you pose, this is where the weightloss comes in. I’d probably compare it to an isometric routine. It’s not just a product of the heat and humidity.

    For those who haven’t tried it, I highly recommend taking a session or two.
    I alternate workout days between bikram and strength training days. Between my flexibility and posture the results have been good.

  • Jill // Feb 19, 2010 at 1:42 AM

    Seems that we have some cinicts amongst us. I find that hot yoga/power yoga is a great wait to trim down and tone up. I have been doing this for a year now, only twice a week, and I have lost on average 15 pounds (and I am small to begin with). This type of yoga attracts type A personalities usually, due to the hot enviroment, where it becomes a play day for us type A’s. Not to say others won’t do well, but you also must learn to do the positions correctly or you are just sweating:) THis is an EXCELLENT way to lose weight, stay healthy, and become unbelievable flexible. Don’t believe the critics who say otherwise. They are just not able to preform in those conditions, which is fine. It’s not for everyone.

  • blythe // Feb 23, 2010 at 10:12 AM

    You actually do burn extensive amounts of calories doing bikram..upwards of 800, depending upon what your height and weight are to begin with.
    And, for those who are just making comments, but haven’t practiced, it is the best cardiovascular workout I’ve ever had..and I used to run marathons…your heart beats excessively fast during a 90 -minute session.
    The reason people who practice extensively aren’t losing weight is most likely the same reason most people don’t lose weight..because they are 1. using the exercise as an excuse to overeat or 2. claiming to exercise, but not maintaining a consistent regimen that is needed to maintain a healthy, trim body.

  • Littlesby // Mar 11, 2010 at 4:30 AM

    If you eat like garbage and eat too much, nothing will help you lose weight, but outside of the weight loss (I know that is the title of this article), I believe Bikram yoga is toning my body, and I am usually sore after class in a good way. I am 31, I started hot yoga having gained 10 pounds beforehand, but also suffering from mild depression, anxiety and all kinds of bodyaches from bad posture…I have not been practicing for very long, yet I feel like a million bucks outside of class now. For some reason, and I don’t know why, I used to have a stuffed nose all the time (yes, I was allergy tested and determined to have no allergies) and now I breath clearer. I got rid of the scale (some people lose, some people gain so I have heard) and decided to focus on how I feel/look and how my clothes fit….plus, I glow! You should not weigh yourself right after class, that is silly, and drink lots of water! Don’t knock it, until you have tried it.

  • zee // Jun 5, 2010 at 8:24 PM

    The only true way to loose weight/burn fat is to do fast twitch muscle exercises like running like slow jog for a minute sprint run for 20 seconds same with sprint cycling. Slow exercises do not burn fat fast! You loose muscle and not fat. So stop being lazy when you get to the gym and work out don’t think doing a little time in Yoga class or walking on a treadmill will get you anywhere if you wanna loose weight fast.

  • whitney // Jul 16, 2010 at 8:00 PM

    have you ever tried bikrams yoga, it’s an insanely intense workout…i wouldn’t call it lazy at all. I used to be a figure competitor, I know how to lift weights and do intense interval training….and bikrams is right up there on my list, it’s hard.

    but also, it really helped me with my weight training by helping my muscles heal faster so I was never sore for too long.

  • exerciser // Sep 9, 2010 at 5:43 AM

    I started doing hot yoga with my cardio work and started to gain weight. Since I can only exercise between 3-4 times per week, I integrated the hot yoga for two of those days. I do think that the hot yoga is a very healthy and balancing practice, but I don’t think it makes you lose weight.

  • Chels // Sep 13, 2010 at 12:16 AM

    “As for the third point saying warmed muscles will burn fat easily. I do not find any scientific proof about the direct correlation between warmed muscles and calories burning.”

    -When the muscles heat up, the rate of reactions in the muscles increases thus burning more calories to help lose weight faster.

  • lisa // Sep 27, 2010 at 5:40 PM

    I noticed a huge difference after 8 sessions of Bikram, I lost inches off my whole body and look fantastic. It is really a fantastic weight loss tool and really makes you concious of what you eat. As a personal trainer its obvious that the heat and exercises if performed correctly put you into the ‘fat burning’ cardiovascular zone as you’ll find yourself out of breath.

  • Angie // Oct 16, 2010 at 9:35 AM

    I completed the bikram 60day. Challenge in April this yr. My body became leaner more toned n flexibility improved. My resting heart rate went down n I feel a lot healthier n clean. Most impt I feel now quite invincible like Incan do anything in this world nothing will bring me down or is too difficult. Did I lose weight? Well on the scales it’s the same cause i lost fats and put on lean muscle mass. Obviously yoga with all other exercise is only effective if u put in the effort. You get out what you put in!

  • Nick // Nov 11, 2010 at 11:45 AM

    I recently set a goal to lose 24 pounds in 60 days. I am 32 years old, and stand 5’9″ tall. I weighed 189 pounds, and wanted to get back to my weight of 165 pounds and 7 percent body fat. A friend suggested hot yoga….

    I hit my goal, barely. That being said, I agree that it takes more than hot yoga alone to lose weight. I did hot yoga 4 days a week, ran 3 days a week, and lifted weights 3 days a week. I stopped eating out during that 60 days as well.

    It was Hell….but I don’t think I could have done it alone without Hot Yoga.

    I am now in maintenance mode, and only lift and run 2 times a week, while doing hot yoga 4-5 times a week. It feels amazing and I’m always clear headed for at least a few minutes when I head out the door!

  • zooomzoom // Nov 29, 2010 at 2:14 PM

    I have been practising Hot yoga for over a year now. I can say hot yoga like other exercises need a good healthy eating plan. I can say that for me Hot yoga especially the power baptiste yoga works out my core and the spinal exercises strengthens the spine. So I do have a slimmer waistline. As for the cardio, I notice the heart rate goes higher and that it self is a good thing.. poses like the warrior 3, toppling tree all increase the heart rate if done properly same with the awkward pose.

    I also find as others have mentioned hot yoga helps in meditation and the mental side and that is a benefit.. Also you are more aware and concious of your body since you wear little clothing. I am now proud of my core as it is mor defined.. this keeps me motivated and I choice to eat healthier… Give hot yoga a try and you will not regret it.. also do not cheat in the poses try your 100% effort.YOu need to touch your forehead on your kneeo, go for it! Good luck. namaste

  • Adam // Jan 20, 2011 at 12:40 AM

    I find this article quite amusing. First, I noticed people talk of dehydration. Sure, being in a sauna for a long period of time will dehydrate you, if you don’t replace your water. That’s the key with hot yoga. Replace your water. you need to drink A LOT of water when you do hot yoga. From there it will clean out your system. I don’t know if it will help lose weight, but if you are replacing your water to avoid dehydration, then it can’t hurt.

    Also, the best part of this article is this line, “develop muscle tone”.

    Can you please elaborate on that?

    You can’t “develop muscle tone” on its own. “Muscle tone” doesn’t exist. In fact, if you look at the people with the most “muscle tone” they are the people that have a high concentration of muscle and very low % body fat.

    “Muscle tone” is simply a gain in muscle to a point where you are able to see your muscles more clearly through your tissues, or a loss in fat to a point where you are able to see your muscles more clearly through your tissues, or a combination of both.

    The term “muscle tone” should be taken out of your vocabulary, especially in a ‘heath’ article. No actual qualified and intelligent trainers or heath freaks should ever be using the term “muscle tone”, as it is misleading and is created by the media for hype, and it sounds cool. You can’t gain muscle tone. You can only lose weight or gain weight, and your body will show through the way it does depending on what your concentration of fat to muscle is.

  • dr veronica sharma // Feb 2, 2011 at 2:52 PM

    muscles consume energy in the form of atp when they contract.specially post contraction when they relax the actin myosin filaments become free of ca with the help of atp .
    In Bikram’s hot yoga to do the postures you need to contract your muscles and stay stiff (like the lamp post dialogue lock your knee dialogue) every posture involves long duration of maintaining contracted muscles. This is what burns your calories.
    Muscles that maintain a posture require more Atp than the other muscles like the eg trapezius requires more energy that biceps .. when maintain a posture as compared to picking up an object.
    the second thing that helps is the high temperature of the room , so your body is trying to cool its self via sweating , so u do burn calories due to sweating, and the humidity doesnt allow the sweat to evaporate from your skin so the sweat doesnt help in cooling the skin surface ( latent heat of vaporization) so your body tries even harder to sweat and reduce temperature.
    increased heart rate improves blood supply to heart and other muscles requiring the atp .

    so u will burn calories, but u can also eat them back , hence eating healthy is imp.

  • darren // Mar 1, 2011 at 8:16 AM

    ive been doing hot yoga for 4 months now and i have dramatically noticed the difference . I do a minimum of 4 one and a half hours sessions a week and i love it. Its been great for toning, stamina and weight loss.I am sure that other exercise could provide the same results but what i love is that i really enjoy it that is the difference for me than going to the gym.

  • stoovie // Mar 14, 2011 at 5:44 AM

    Doing yoga in dehydrating (heated) environments is actually detrimental to weight loss and performance as dehydration will result in both physical and muscle fatigue which prevent the body from exerting as much strength and stamina as would have been prohibited in the same amount of time under cooler conditions.

  • stoovie // Mar 14, 2011 at 5:47 AM

    and in so far as the claim that the “discipline” that comes from hot yoga aids in discipline in regards to eating habits, that’s anecdotal at best and can easily be argued in the contrary: hot yoga will actually result in a less rigorous diet plan as those doing hot yoga will feel that they are “allowed” to eat more due to the fact that hot yoga provides them with a “bonus” over regular yoga. That argument seems just as plausible.

  • Buru // Apr 18, 2011 at 3:10 PM

    I have been attending a hot yoga class for 3 months now and i saw results within the first couple of weeks, and detoxing righhht away! My legs started to look toned right away because of the importance of locking you knees during practise and my bf says my curves got more defined. The first couple of classes suck because you do feel like your going to pass out… normal.
    I can second the claim that it does help you detox with life experience. I quit smoking because I did hot yoga “period”, cravings cut down dramatically. Also my skin isn’t comparable when I don’t attend. Clean and clear!
    I think that doing bikram yoga with dance as is my regiment is most effective cuz music heals the soul and bikram trains the mind. Yogas here in my life and to stay. I think your body does need time to heal though so to push yourself to hard isn’t the way to go. I was not fexable but in just 3 months i can pull my leg way above the top of my head, way cool. I suggest bikram 4-3 times a week for anybody.
    Also i eat well and my metabolism is higher cuz i lost a few pounds. Im in my early 20’s, 5.7, 130 lbs. i was sitting at 135-138 with little muscle mass over christmas.
    Whats most exciting is that the transformation might not be instant but i can tell im gonna look better everytime i go cuz im improving everytime i go. Contorting you body is way cooler then going up a couple weights or lasting a couple mins longer on the bike.
    yoga is really good.

  • Lilian // Jun 17, 2011 at 5:39 AM

    I totally agree with this article and the MUCHACHA’s points. Thanks.
    I think it is all marketing to give people who want extra from practicing Yoga. If you want healthy body, you can do it at home with few postures plus discipline mind.

  • hannah // Jun 21, 2011 at 5:23 AM

    I have been doing hot yoga for 2 weeks now 5 – 6 times a week. I’ve noticed reduced food craving, absolutely NO sugar cravings (I’m a huge sugar addict), more even skin tone on my face, softer skin, clearer pores, more energy, less stressed, way better sleep (I have bouts of insomnia regularly), less back pain, slimmer waist and to top it off NO body odor!
    I swear by it.

  • Bodane // Nov 14, 2011 at 12:22 AM

    I weighed in at 280 pounds. Couldn’t tie my shoes without difficulty. Walk across the street with out being out of breath and in 10 weeks doing yoga in a combo sauna lost 90lbs. enjoyed every minute of it! It got rid of hard clumps of fat that were like marbles. Today 2 years later I’m 148 in the best shape of my life. I do yoga out side of the sauna but it just not as enjoyable thought. I live in Canada and today it 11 degrees Celsius with a strong breeze. It going to be wonderful

  • Holly // Nov 18, 2011 at 4:43 AM

    I’ve been doing Bikram since the summer and I LOVE IT!!! I do it 4-5 days a week and I’ve definitely lost weight and have great tone throughout. One of the things I love about it is that you MUST pay attention to what you put in your body. I know that when I don’t eat healthfully class is that much harder so of course you have to eat well just as you would any other workout. I love that when I’m doing the postures, the instructor is telling me what cell or organ is being massaged. My digestion is 100x better and I love the stillness after poses when lying in savasana and I can feel my heart beat (It’s a high intensity workout) reminding me that I’m doing something good for my body. I also started running a month ago – it complements running perfectly and I have way more endurance than most beginners (in my running group) and I never have achy knees because I do bikram so much during the week. It doesn’t interfere at all with my stamina and as long as I drink lots of water throughout the day I’m not dehydrated. Matter of fact I don’t even drink that much water in class. Did I mention how much I love Bikram? LOL! It’s not for everyone I get that but don’t knock it til you’ve really tried it. It’s easy to phone in but when you give it your best trust me the weight really does come off fast.

  • Yvonne // Jan 22, 2013 at 10:57 AM

    I have lost 10 actual pounds from Bikram Yoga. I do it at least 5 times per week and I am now in my third week. It is also a good cardio workout. It is a very hard exercise and requires a strong mind and someone who wishes to challenge themselves; going beyond the norm.

    The weight comes off and people who have not done Bikram for no more than a couple of sessions should not offer any professional advice regarding this.

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