Do Yoga in a Hot Room: Harvard Study Shows How It Improves Mental Health

  • By Ravi Shankar Upadhyay
  • at February 19, 2024 -


Yoga has long been celebrated for its physical and mental health benefits. From increased flexibility to stress reduction, the ancient practice offers a holistic approach to well-being. But what if we turned up the heat? A recent study conducted by Harvard Medical School sheds light on the advantages of practicing yoga in a hot room, revealing its potential impact on mental health.

The Study

In a groundbreaking study published by the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, researchers explored the effects of hot yoga on individuals with depression. Sixty-five adults were assigned to either attend hot yoga sessions or remain on a waiting list. The results were striking: participants in the yoga group exhibited significantly reduced symptoms of depression. Could this heated practice be a valuable addition to existing psychiatric therapies?

Hot Yoga vs. Bikram Yoga

Before we dive into the science, let’s clarify the terminology. “Hot yoga” and “Bikram yoga” are often used interchangeably, but they differ significantly:

Bikram Yoga: This rigorous form of yoga involves a specific sequence of 26 poses and two breathing exercises. Practiced in a room heated to a scorching 40°C (104°F), Bikram sessions last a challenging 90 minutes.

Hot Yoga: Unlike Bikram, hot yoga encompasses a broader range of styles. In a heated room (typically maintained at 27-38°C or 80-100°F), practitioners explore various poses and durations. Music and interactive elements often enhance the experience.

The Neurotransmitter Boost

Why does hot yoga have such a positive impact on mental health? The answer lies in neurotransmitters—the chemical messengers that influence our mood and emotions. When you practice yoga in a hot room, several key neurotransmitters come into play:

Endorphins: These natural painkillers and mood enhancers flood your system during hot yoga. The elevated temperature triggers their release, leaving you with a sense of euphoria and well-being.

Dopamine: Known as the “reward neurotransmitter,” dopamine contributes to feelings of pleasure and motivation. Hot yoga stimulates dopamine production, encouraging a positive mindset.

Serotonin: Essential for regulating mood, serotonin levels rise during hot yoga. Improved mood and reduced anxiety are common outcomes.

Oxytocin: Often called the “love hormone,” oxytocin fosters social bonding and emotional connection. Hot yoga’s warmth encourages its release, promoting feelings of connection and trust.

From Sympathetic to Parasympathetic

Beyond neurotransmitters, hot yoga affects our autonomic nervous system. Here’s how:

Sympathetic Nervous System: In stressful situations, this system releases hormones like epinephrine and norepinephrine, accelerating heart rate and preparing us for action.

Parasympathetic Nervous System: The counterpart to the sympathetic system, it promotes relaxation. Acetylcholine, the hormone responsible for slowing down the heart rate, is released during calm moments.

By practicing hot yoga, you shift from the sympathetic to the parasympathetic state. As your heart rate steadies and stress dissipates, depression symptoms decrease.


Next time you unroll your mat in a heated room, remember that you’re not just stretching your muscles—you’re nurturing your mind. Hot yoga offers a unique blend of physical challenge, mental focus, and emotional release. So, embrace the warmth, breathe deeply, and let the healing begin.

Disclaimer: Always consult a healthcare professional before starting any new exercise regimen, especially if you have existing health conditions. 🌟🧘‍♀️

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Written by Admin

The Author is, a seasoned wellness author, delves into the art of healthy living through his insightful narratives on herbs, lifestyle choices, and yoga asanas. With a passion for holistic well-being, Author's writings inspire readers to embrace a balanced life, fostering happiness and vitality through the integration of natural remedies and mindful practices.


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