I love yoga and I want to be a yogi when I grow up. My gym doesn't have yoga at any practical time so I started going to a yoga studio, where I discovered Hot Yoga. The fact that I can tolerate a temperature of 106 degrees is amazing to me and then actually wanting to do exercise in that heat is beyond me. However, it was the best yoga I ever tried and I highly recommend it.
I liked the feeling of the sweat dripping down my face. I liked how I could stretch better in the heat. And at the end I felt a lot more relaxed. I like the steam room and hot tub, so maybe the heat just makes me more relaxed in general, so why not combine that with yoga.
I have to say this is a class that I wouldn't want to go to with men. They seem to sweat a lot and frankly it stinks.That's mean. I'm a little sorry. My husband goes at a different time than me and he can continue to do that. Anyway...
While searching for what are the benefits of hot yoga, I found this article in the Huffington Post that says that people perceive themselves as burning more calories from sweating, but you aren't really. It also says you can get all the same benefits of stretching and flexibility without the heat. Do you really do yoga for calorie burning? Power yoga may burn a little more calories with the fast pace, but I'd say paying attention to calories isn't productive.
Here is another link from Mind Body Green, talking about the myths of the benefits of hot yoga. Namely, boosting metabolism, increasing circulation, detoxing. The points are all valid for why you don't need hot yoga for any of these things. Doing a Pub Med search, I haven't found any research articles that show any true benefit of hot yoga over traditional yoga. That doesn't mean they are not out there, I just haven't come across it in my quick search. I did come across this article on PubMed, that showed an improvement with insulin resistance in older adults. However, it did not compare the benefit of yoga or hot yoga. This improvement could've just been due to the fact that they were getting exercise.
Despite the lack of scientific evidence that I was able to dig up, I think hot yoga felt great. I felt sore the next day so I know I was working those small neglected muscles that you only work in yoga. And just because scientific studies haven't found certain benefits, doesn't mean there aren't any. Research is full of variables.