Hot and dangerous: Is Bikram yoga good for you?

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By Meredith Sheldon

If you are bored of the gym and of the treadmill, it is time for a new fitness challenge—Bikram yoga.

Sweating in a 105-degree room for 90 minutes while practicing yoga might sound tough, but this form of heat training includes mental and physical health benefits such as weight loss, increased flexibility, and detoxification, according to an article in Shape. But is this trendy and hot workout safe?

Well, there are pros and cons to this 26-pose hot yoga class, according to a study from the American Council on Exercise. Despite the many health benefits, Bikram yoga can cause dramatic increases in heart rate and core temperature.

The study measured the performances, heart rates and core temperatures of seven males and 13 females before, during and after a full Bikram session.

All participants, who were regular practitioners of Bikram, demonstrated fluctuating heart rates and high temperatures. The highest of these temperatures reached 103 degrees Fahrenheit.

Heat can also be a health risk. It is important to prepare properly prior to entering the studio. Those who are not familiar with exercising in a hot and humid environment can suffer from heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke, according to the study.

In addition, proper hydration is crucial before a Bikram session.

Since you can lose up to 1.5 liters of water during hot yoga, you need extra water and electrolytes to replenish your body before and after a class.

An article in Shape advises Bikram yogis to drink about 16 ounces of water 30 minutes to an hour before a session to prevent dizziness and dehydration.

Bottom line: If you hydrate and prepare properly, you can achieve the mind and body health benefits that Bikram yoga provides.

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