There’s quite a buzz surrounding the practice of hot yoga. With its sauna-like atmosphere, it is commonly believed that a hot yoga class has significantly greater health benefits than other workouts. But can you really sweat out more toxins just from exercising at an increased temperature? Though the evidence is currently controversial, the benefits of practicing hot yoga may be worth having your feet slowly slip out from under you in the middle of downward dog.

According to the Huffington Post, hot yoga classes are most commonly taught between 92 and 105 degrees Fahrenheit. These temperatures cause the body to sweat like crazy — more so than the average hour-long workout. As sweat is one form of bodily waste removal, it seems realistic that the influx of sweat experienced during hot yoga classes would be beneficial to flushing the “bad guys” out of the body at a rapid rate.

In reality, the trace quantities of toxins that are eliminated through sweat are fairly small. The liver is the commander of the body’s detoxification routines. Once each organ has done its job extracting nutrients and the liver has sifted out toxins, the body releases them as waste in many different forms.

A doctor on Health Xchange explains that sweat is 99% water, so the actual quantity of toxins, which would already be diminished because of the body’s other primary forms of eliminating waste, is relatively tiny. While precipitation isn’t the primary vehicle in the elimination and detoxification processes of the body, its small role is still valuable.

Ultimately, hot yoga isn’t detoxing the body as much as it’s hyped up to. Practicing yoga in high temperatures, however, includes other health benefits aside from sweat. The heat and increased amount of sweat causes you to drink more water. Water is the ultimate detoxifier for the body, as it assists every system in its daily functioning, as well as in the body’s detoxification processes. According to Women’s Health, the heat during hot yoga also provides room for further stretching; at high temperatures, muscles relax more, increasing flexibility.

So, while hot yoga doesn’t entirely eradicate the damage your body endures, it still assists in a small part of the detoxification process while simultaneously providing a strenuous workout.

Illustration by Cate Johnson

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