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When Is It Too Hot for Hot Yoga? The Heat and Humidity Equation


I LOVE hot yoga. It's my go-to, my staple, and my muse. But is hotter and hotter better? Not necessarily. In fact, it can be downright dangerous.


Hot yoga has gained immense popularity over the years due to its unique blend of physical activity and mental relaxation. However, practicing hot yoga in extreme heat can be detrimental to your well-being. That's not me saying this; it's science.


Understanding the equation of temperature and humidity is crucial to determining when it might be too hot for hot yoga. In this blog, we delve into the effects of high temperatures and humidity on the body and provide an example of the 'real feel' temperature using 85 degrees Fahrenheit with 65% humidity.


First, how do we measure these two numbers? I use a hygrometer. Here's a picture of a class' numbers before I calibrated the room. It's too cool for hot yoga, so I go about calibrating the room—in this case, warming it up—to prepare for class. I measure the 'real feel' because using how I feel is inconsistent. I have a high tolerance to heat so my 'real feel', is WAY too hot for most practitioners. Preparing the heat in the room does not mean making it as hot as possible before class begins. It means bringing it to a 'real feel', which is 75% of what I want mid-class to feel like. Why? Read on....

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The Temperature-Humidity Equation: Temperature and humidity are two key factors that contribute to the overall comfort level and safety during any physical activity, including hot yoga. When combined, these factors determine the real feel temperature, which is a more accurate representation of how the temperature feels to our bodies.


Humidity plays a significant role in how our body cools itself. When the air is dry, sweat evaporates easily from our skin, allowing us to cool down more effectively. However, when humidity levels are high, the moisture in the air makes it difficult for sweat to evaporate, leading to reduced cooling efficiency and a higher risk of heat-related illnesses.


The Atmospheric Affect: In South Florida it is not uncommon for our humidity to be in the range of 60-92%, depending on the time of day, with most of the day being on average 77%. The humidity magnifies dry temperature. The higher the humidity, the hotter it feels. That's why it's important to measure both.


Example: Real Feel Temperature of 94 degrees Fahrenheit with 65% Humidity: To illustrate the impact of temperature and humidity, let's consider an example. Imagine you walk into a hot yoga room, and the thermostat reads 95 degrees Fahrenheit. If we read the at 65% using the heat index or the "real feel" temperature formula, we can calculate the perceived temperature of approximately 114 degrees Fahrenheit!

Heat in index in yoga

The perceived temperature is the temperature at which our bodies react to cool down. It might not feel very warm at first because, in South Florida, we're usually coming in from the A/C (which we LOVE). As our bodies warm up, they increase the heat and humidity in the room. If we start our practice with a 'real feel' of 114 degrees, we're starting in the danger zone, and it's only going to get hotter. That's why I start class at 75% of the 'real feel' I'm aiming for.


While personal preferences and individual tolerances vary, certain guidelines can help determine when it might be too hot for hot yoga:

  1. Pay attention to the heat index: As demonstrated in the example, the heat index provides a more accurate measure of how the temperature feels. Consider avoiding hot yoga sessions if the heat index exceeds a comfortable range for your body.

  2. Stay hydrated: Proper hydration is crucial when practicing hot yoga. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after the session to replenish the fluids lost through sweat.

  3. Listen to your body: Pay close attention to your body's signals during hot yoga. If you start to feel dizzy, lightheaded, excessively fatigued, or experience nausea, these could be signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. In such cases, it's essential to stop, immediately leave the room and seek cooler conditions.

  4. Know the Danger Signs: If I suggest you take a break outside the yoga room, please do so. You're already showing signs of heat exhaustion. If you suddenly stop sweating, please leave the room to cool yourself. The body's inability to sweat is a sure sign of heat stroke. The other signs are:

    • Very high body temperature, usually over 104 degrees F

    • Hot, dry, red skin

    • Rapid pulse

    • Difficulty breathing

Heat Exhaustion vs Heat Stroke

When practiced in a safe and regulated setting, hot yoga is a satisfying and energizing activity. Knowing the relationship between temperature and humidity is crucial for figuring out when it might be too hot and when to adjust the heat and humidity. You will have an enjoyable, challenging, and joyful experience during your hot yoga sessions by taking into account aspects like the 'real feel' temperature, paying attention to your body, and staying hydrated.


Keep flowing and growing!


All my love,






@vikkysantana.yogatraining

Hello, my name is Vikky, and I am thrilled to share my passion for yoga with you. I have been teaching yoga for over 13 years in South Florida, and my journey with this ancient practice started over 37 years ago. As a registered yoga teacher and 200 Yoga School with Yoga Alliance, I hold expertise in multiple disciplines of yoga, including yogic anatomy, 500-hour yoga teacher training, yogic philosophy, and meditation. My classes are a blend of dynamic movement, breathwork, and meditation, providing a holistic experience that nurtures the mind, body, and spirit. I believe yoga is for everyone, regardless of age, fitness level, or experience. My approach is welcoming and inclusive, creating a safe and nurturing environment for all my students to explore the many benefits of yoga. Through my teachings, I hope to inspire and empower students to connect with their inner selves, cultivate mindfulness, and lead healthier, happier lives. Join me in my classes to experience the transformative power of yoga firsthand.

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