When the pandemic shut down yoga studios, lots of yogis simply switched to virtual and online classes. Hot yoga enthusiasts, however, were out of luck; there’s no way to replicate a hot yoga class virtually. Or so we thought. According to a recent article in the New York Times, some yoginis have gotten creative with hot water and space heaters to simulate a hot yoga environment,
We raised an eyebrow—and then asked YJ Practice Editor, Bria Tavakoli to give it a try. “I often tell my students that they can do yoga almost anywhere, so I felt compelled to practice what I teach,” she says.
Is a steamy shower the secret to at-home hot yoga?
Yogis quotes in the Times article said they turned on the shower to generate some steam, then added a space heater to amp up the temperature. That creates similarly humid conditions to a hot yoga studio which is usually heated to between 90 and 100 degrees.
“My current situation is a shower-only set up,” says Bria. “I threw some lemon and rose aromatherapy drops into the shower, blasted some really hot water to steam things up, then dialed down the water temperature to prevent scalding before I got in. Thankfully, I have a very grippy, textured bath mat that helped me feel anchored as I moved through a limited pose repertoire: some standing side bends, Uttanasana variations, and gentle neck stretches. It felt good to stretch in the steam, but I imagine it would not have felt particularly safe without the type of bath mat I had.”
The bottom line: If you have a small bathroom, this is probably not an option. Even if your loo is large enough that you won’t bump your head on the toilet seat, a steamy, slippery bathroom filled with lots of hard surfaces can create a slip-and-fall risk.
Can a space heater make your home hot enough?
One yoga practitioner quoted in the Times cranked up the space heater in her basement. Another describes putting a rolled towel in front of the door to keep out drafts. This may generate enough heat, but you may not be able to approximate the level of humidity.
Bria didn’t even try it. “I don’t own a space heater and I didn’t feel comfortable or safe getting one for such a small space,” Bria says. Probably good instincts on her part. Consumer Product Safety Commission warns against haphazard use of heaters. “The two hazards of most concern to the CPSC are fires and carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning,” the website says. Most manufacturers encourage you to use space heaters in ventilated rooms. Sealing in heat necessarily means cutting off proper ventilation.
The bottom line: If you are going to use a heater, make sure it’s in good working order and set on a stable surface. Keep it “socially distanced” from curtains, bedding or anything flammable; from children and pets; and from you. You don’t want to kick into a three-legged dog and start a fire.
What about outdoor dining spaces?
The Times reported that in places where restaurants have stretched their dining rooms out to the sidewalks, intrepid yoga teachers have turned the heated, plastic-enclosed dining spaces into off-hours hot-yoga studios. But that means people are huffing, puffing and sweating together in a hot, enclosed space. That sounds like…a hot yoga studio. Which is exactly what we’re trying to avoid.
“I haven’t heard of any of my yoga pals doing this, and when I mentioned this to my teacher friends, they were summarily grossed out,” Bria says. Her colleague Rae said, “It’s recreating the yoga-without-good-ventilation problem in a different way. No way would I teach or take yoga in one of those spaces!”
The bottom line: You may be hot, but you’re also fully clothed, practicing on a sidewalk. Nothing about that mimics the hot-yoga experience. You may want to stick to yoga practices you can do outdoors in a well-ventilated place.
So…should you try hot yoga at home?
DIY hot yoga probably isn’t for people living in small spaces or those who are trying to conserve energy. We’re pretty concerned about you hitting your head on the bathroom tiles, or passing out from toxic fumes. But if you’re missing your hot yoga fix, maybe work up some heat with an energetic power flow, then have a hot bath and a warm beverage.
“Sure, maybe I’ll stretch a bit in my shower, but space limitations and lingering concerns around slipping mean I’ll be keeping that to a minimum,” Bria says. “While it’s nice to stretch as we move through real life, hot shower yoga’s no substitute for a full class.”
This might be a good time to practice the parts of yoga that focus on mindfulness, contentment, and self-awareness. We think that stuff’s pretty hot, too.