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Your body feels the combination of heat and humidity.
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Bikram's Yoga College of India recommends that a Bikram studio be set to a temperature of at least 105 degrees Fahrenheit with a humidity level of 40 percent. Many studios set the heat and humidity levels higher, with a range up to 115 degrees and 60 percent humidity. The heat and humidity affect your body together.
Bikram Studio Heat and Humidity
Bikram yoga is designed to take advantage of the relationship between heat and humidity. The Bikram's Yoga College of India explains to teachers that they should adjust the studio temperature to account for different humidity levels in the room. When the room has high humidity, they should lower the temperature, and when it is low, they should increase the temperature. This temperature and humidity combination is designed to provide benefits like helping to improve flexibility so the body can move into poses, helping release toxins from the body and increasing the heart rate to provide a cardiovascular workout.
Humidity Makes It Hotter
The humidity level of the Bikram studio makes the high temperatures feel much hotter. Your body feels the heat index, which is the combination of the temperature and the humidity level. "Yoga Journal" states that a typical Bikram yoga studio has a heat index of about 149 degrees Fahrenheit when the temperature is set to 105 degrees and the humidity is set to 60 percent.
Effects of the Heat Index
The combination of heat and humidity affects your body in numerous ways. MedlinePlus states that outdoor hot and humid conditions cause an increased heart rate and less blood going to the muscles because the blood is also working to cool down the body. The same reaction can happen with the heat and humidity of a Bikram yoga studio. In addition, your sweat will not evaporate as much when you are exposed to increased humidity, so your body has more trouble cooling down. Nonetheless, your body can adapt to these conditions and they can be safe for a healthy person who stays hydrated.
Risks of the Heat Index
Because of the high heat index of Bikram yoga classes, many experts are concerned about health issues. Harvard Health Publications explains that heat and humidity make the heart work much harder and can make people lose important nutrients through sweating, which can be dangerous for at-risk populations, like those with heart problems or elderly people. In his book "Yoga as Medicine," Dr. Timothy McCall notes that hot yoga is a risk for many other populations, like those with multiple sclerosis, inflammatory conditions, pregnancy, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome or epilepsy. Ask your doctor before engaging in a class like this, especially if you have a health condition.