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During hot yoga, I frequently get dizzy. Will my body eventually adapt?
It depends on why you’re feeling dizzy. For instance, if the dizziness is due to dehydration, it can be alleviated or avoided. Hot yoga classes raise your core temperature. In order to cool down, you’ll produce a lot of sweat; your blood vessels will also dilate to bring more blood to the skin and release heat (a process called vasodilation). When unchecked, excessive sweating can dehydrate the body, causing blood to travel to your brain more slowly and making you dizzy, especially when you stand from a seated position, or after an inversion.
Before giving up on hot yoga, try to mitigate dehydration by sipping water throughout the day, 30 minutes before class, and during class as needed. Also, wear breathable clothing to help dissipate heat so your body doesn’t have to work as hard to stay cool. If you are feeling faint, assume Child’s Pose—because heat rises, the area closer to the ground is typically cooler, which may reduce dizziness within seconds.
On the other hand, if you’re susceptible to high blood pressure (for example, if you’re pregnant, elderly, or have a cardiac condition), you may also experience dizziness. That’s because your heart needs to work harder to pump blood to working muscles, which means vital organs may not get enough blood flow and, thus, have a diminished capacity to release heat, putting you at risk for fainting and even heat exhaustion. In this case, it’s best to try yoga held in a cooler room, such as hatha, vinyasa, or Ashtanga.
–Nadine Kelly, MD
Founder of Yogi MD therapeutic yoga, Flossmoor, Illinois