In recent years, hot yoga has become a popular exercise option for individuals looking to change up their fitness routine (though first instances of its practices date back to the 1940s). Individuals looking to lose weight and destress by stretching and holding poses in a heat-filled, sweat-inducing environment swear by the exercise. But how does hot yoga differ from regular yoga, and what unique benefits does it provide the body?

When discussing hot yoga, it’s important to know there are several blends of the workout- the main two being bikram and vinyasa. Bikram yoga, the series of a specific 26 poses, each performed twice in a 105℉ room with 40% humidity over 90 minutes, is the most well-known variation of hot yoga. If it sounds intense, that’s because it is. Vinyasa yoga sessions average 45-60 minutes and don’t use a specific set of poses. Additionally, room temperatures are typically low-mid 90s, making this variation the preference of many. Regular yoga classes, however, are offered in several styles, each performed in 65℉-75℉- though the poses performed and duration of classes are often mirrored in hot yoga. Before attending a workout, research different types of yoga classes to find the workout that matches your needs and abilities.

There are several indisputable benefits to regular and hot yoga, including relaxation, flexibility and strength. There are, however, a few things to consider before signing up for a class. Proponents of hot yoga workouts often assert that a 90 minute session will help you sweat through all your toxins. While doctors dispute the legitimacy of the the claim, the sweat session is undeniable evidence of a great workout. Sweating helps regulate body temperature, but it is not an effective means of detoxification — no matter how much sweat you produce. Your internal organs, namely the kidneys and liver are your body’s detoxifying method. Yoga (regular or hot) might not be the detox you hoped for, but it certainly will give you a thorough workout.

Another benefit of hot yoga you’ll hear from instructors is heat helps stretch muscles with less strain. This is true because heat enables muscles to become more flexible; however, heat can become a double-edged sword for hot yoga enthusiasts. While heat does help you stretch, a false sense of flexibility can lead to overextending stretches that result in injuries. Heat holds the potential to mask the muscle’s capabilities during the workout, leading to strains. Whether you’re performing regular yoga, hot yoga or any other physical activity, knowing your limitations will help you experience a productive and safe workout.

Ultimately, regular or hot yoga are great options to switch up your workout routine. When performed responsibly with an accurate understanding of their risks and benefits, you can expect to see significant results; you’ll leave the studio feeling rejuvenated and empowered.