Love that feeling of a great sweat—and usually catch it through hot yoga? For many people, that’s all well and good. But, if you’re trying to conceive, press the pause button. Here’s what you need to know about hot yoga and fertility before ever unrolling your mat.
Some basics about hot yoga
Just how heated up do things get in hot yoga? It depends on the studio, and, sometimes, also the instructor. Some studios crank up the thermostat to create a hotter environment. Others bring portable heaters into the room, with a goal of adding to the humidity of the room and reaching temps up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit.
Even though hot yoga has its origins in Bikram yoga, today, there’s no single defining characteristic other than a hotter space than you’d find in a regular class. Just like the heat varies depending on where you go and who your teacher is, so will the style and intensity of the practice. Checking online descriptions can give some info before you go, and many studios provide a temperature range for their classes.
Your body’s response to a highly heated room
Even if you call or find out all of the details ahead of time, know that rooms can sometimes creep upwards of a given temperature range. Plus, how your body responds to any temperature or yoga flow isn’t set in stone. That’s true even if you’ve been to the same studio and exact class before.
Electrolyte balance changes based on where you are in your menstrual cycle. That and other factors can contribute to how you feel in any class—especially in extreme heat. In response to being in a highly heated room (and exerting yourself!), your body will raise its core body temperature from 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit to cope. Sometimes, students can experience sudden, intense shifts in core body temperature—even up to four degrees higher than their normal.
What to know about a raised core body temperature
When your core body temperature raises like this, there are two main things students should think about when trying to conceive. If you’re already pregnant but aren’t aware of it yet, having an external factor elevate your body temperature can leave you dizzy and prone to falling. It could also be downright dangerous for a developing fetus. Studies point out that pregnant women should avoid hot tubs and hot yoga—or any unnaturally heated situation. Ignoring that advice can raise your baby’s risk for complications, including neural tube defects.
What if you’re sure you’re not pregnant yet? Hot yoga requires more effort than regular yoga practices. At the same time, it can make some poses seem more accessible. (Heat creates a greater sense of pliability in your muscles.) Over-stretching is uncomfortable on the best of days. But, if you become pregnant while healing from a pulled muscle, you may have trouble keeping up with normal activities.
However, it’s about more than just stretching too far. Hot yoga and fertility efforts aren’t a good mix because hot yoga causes physical exhaustion. The altered environment is a stressor to your body. And stress makes it more difficult to get pregnant.
For the guy in your life: hot yoga and his fertility
There’s research that shows men who are exposed to overheated environments (like saunas and steel plants) had decreased sperm quality. Saunas are generally much higher in temperature than hot yoga studios. However, because there aren’t any studies on how hot yoga specifically affects male fertility, discuss it with your partner or check in with a physician.
So, should you go to your favorite hot yoga class if you’re trying to conceive?
Like any activity, hot yoga’s not completely risk-free. If you’re still interested in hot yoga and trying to conceive, talk to your ob-gyn or another healthcare provider about the pros and cons of different types of exercise while family planning. They can offer guidance on whether or not it’s okay for you to sweat it out at such a high temp.