August 2020

Why I Love Hot Yoga

Author: Danielle Daily

Why do otherwise sane human beings pay good money to take a yoga class in a room where the climate resembles Dante’s Inferno? For 15 years, I swore I’d never step foot in one of those horrible hot yoga studios. My idea of yoga was peaceful and relaxing, not torturous and sweaty. Then one day, I found myself standing at the intersection of desperation and convenience, so I caved in and booked a class. That was four years ago, and I’ve been hooked on hot yoga ever since!

Yoga has served as a lifeline for me since college when I felt like I might spontaneously combust from the stress of working, taking 50 percent more credit hours than what is considered full-time, and applying to graduate school. I’d heard yoga could teach me to quiet my mind, and since I was stressed to the max all day and having nightmares about my teeth falling out or driving down the road in the dark with no headlights at night, I knew I needed something that would help me manage the demands of my life choices or I would have a breakdown. Yoga was exactly what I needed, and it hooked me from my very first class.

Flash forward 15 years. Instead of the stress of work and college, I was dealing with the stress of a divorce. Desperate for relief, the only yoga studio in town I had not tried offered heated classes.

Throughout the years between college and divorce, yoga remained a big part of my life, but my tried-and-true gentle yoga practice wasn’t cutting it anymore. My right eye had developed an involuntary twitch—a telltale sign that stress and anxiety were taking an even greater toll on my health. I needed to do something fast before I started having heart palpitations or fell into depression.

Hot yoga gave me the immediate stress relief I needed, and the more I went, the better I felt. I would be lying if I said I loved hot yoga immediately. In fact, it took me almost two years to learn to love it. Besides being the effective stress reliever I desperately needed, here are five reasons I slowly but surely fell head-over-heels in love with hot yoga and why you will too:

1) Walking into a room that felt like summer, even in February! I learned I could arrive for class 15 or 20 minutes early to roll out my mat, lie down, close my eyes, and imagine I was relaxing on a tropical island. The membership fee was a bargain compared to the expense and hassle of planning a real vacation.

2) Releasing bottled up emotions. Although I felt tempted to leave once I had to stop daydreaming and start moving, a little voice inside my head told me I needed to be there and that exerting my body was helping me release some of the ocean of grief I was feeling, through my pores as sweat instead of through my eyes as tears. I hate crying because it gives me a headache, so the torture of moving my body in a hot room for an hour to generate sweat seemed less horrible than having to go home to cry it out and endure a headache that would last until I went to sleep. I soon started leaving sweat angels on my mat and later joked to Liba, the studio owner, that if she had any idea how much grief I had released in her studio, she would have charged me extra.

3) Letting go of vanity. Even the most experienced yogi will look like a drowned rat after a few minutes of practice, so there’s no divide between who looks good doing it and who looks like a sweaty disaster. Everyone looks awful. There is a humorous meme out there about hot yoga Barbie. Google it. You will laugh, and it’s an accurate representation of what everyone looks like by the end of class.

4) Leveling the mental and emotional playing field. You can’t deny it’s uncomfortably hot once you get moving, and no one has it easy. When you’re suffering from emotional pain, it is easy to start feeling isolated. Being in community with others who were enduring something difficult helped me feel connected. We were all after the same goal: keep going because the only way out is through.

5) Feeling strong! It didn’t happen overnight, but after several months of practice, I had the fittest body I’ve ever had the pleasure of living in. Today, at age 41, I’m able to perform gravity-defying arm balances that make me feel like a kid again!

Hot yoga isn’t for everyone. Check with your doctor to make sure you are healthy enough to practice before you throw yourself into the fire. If you’re cleared to play among the heat hounds of hot yoga, I know you will love imagining your tropical island getaway before class, releasing emotions that feel toxic and heavy through your pores, letting go of vanity as you become a sweaty mess, feeling like part of a community, and building strength that can make you feel like a kid again. I mean, what’s a little heat when you can you get all that plus a great workout in just an hour?

Danielle Daily is a speaker, author, and Host of The Suddenly Single Show podcast. Find her at or on Instagram @TheSuddendlySingleShow.

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