Yoga in the Sauna: is it even possible?

Most people do their yoga or fitness session first, and then they recover in the sauna afterward. But what if I told you that you could actually do both at once? Imagine the magnified effect you would get from doing both yoga and sauna at once, and imagine not ever having to be bored just sitting there in the sauna room again?

I personally know it is possible to do yoga in the sauna, because I do it myself every day. Also, there is actually a certain type of yoga, called Bikram yoga, where you do your yoga session in a room heated at 105 degrees Fahrenheit (41 degrees Celsius), paired with 40% humidity. Further, conventional knowledge sources claim you can do light yoga in the sauna, given that you take certain precautions.

In this post, I will answer all the questions you may have about doing yoga in the sauna.

Firstly, I will tell you about my own experiences of doing yoga in the sauna, and about the program that I complete every day, in a traditional sauna. I will also tell you my best personal tips for a successful sauna-yoga session (and recovery).

Secondly, I did some research online, and I will walk you through what the conventional knowledge sources say about yoga in the sauna.

So, if you want to learn everything there is to know about yoga in the sauna, read on!

Yoga in the Sauna: my own experience and tips

I have done sauna (mostly traditional sauna) for almost all my life. Being from Scandinavia, this is nothing really unusual, as the sauna culture is much more immersed in our daily lives. However, what may be a bit unusual about me is that I have also practiced Bikram Yoga (and some other types of hot yoga, such as Moksha yoga) during several years.

As mentioned, Bikram yoga is practiced in a room heated to 105 Fahrenheit, or 41 Celsius, with 40% humidity. So, you can think of it as yoga at sauna-light conditions. During the years I practiced Bikram yoga, I took a break from my sauna sessions. (It would really have been too much to do both at once.)

What I really like about Bikram yoga, that is missing in a traditional sauna session, it the physical and stretching aspect. I easily get bored in the sauna, and I always feel that something is missing if I just do a traditional sauna session. And, what is missing is the physical aspect, especially the stretching! Of course, you can do yoga or fitness first, and then a sauna session. However, firstly that takes a lot of time. More importantly however, there is something to combining heat and humidity with the physical aspect of stretching (that is yoga), that in my experience cannot be achieved by just doing the two practices separately.

The way that Bikram yoga made me feel was something completely new to me! It not only regenerated my body completely, but also had such a positive impact on my mood!

As I said, I practiced Bikram yoga for several years, but over time I started getting a bit annoyed because I felt the room needed to be hotter. I could feel great the difference between a session full of people, which naturally increases the temperature and humidity, and an empty morning session, which is a bit cooler.

Then, during the isolation-period of 2020-2021, decided to take a break from Bikram yoga. (Well, my studio closed down during this period, so it was not really my decision.) During this period, I rediscovered sauna, and started going to a traditional sauna every day. (I’m fortunate enough to  have a sauna on the ground floor of my apartment complex.)

But I really missed the physical aspect of Bikram yoga…. So, I started experimenting. And yes, it turned out it’s actually possible (for me at least), to do yoga in the sauna.

Me doing Standing-head-to-knee in the sauna.
Image: Me doing Standing-head-to-knee in the sauna.

Now, the world has opened up again, and I could go back to my Birkram yoga studio. However, it turned out I like the sauna-yoga better: I want it hotter than in the traditional Bikram yoga room, and I don’t mind if that comes at the expense of a bit less physical exercise. Sauna yoga makes me feel even better than Bikram yoga, and that is very hard to beat! I also notice even better effects on my skin with the sauna-yoga, which has always been one of the great advantages of Bikram yoga.

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Me doing Eagle Pose in the sauna.
Image: Me doing Eagle Pose in the sauna.

The main difference between my sauna-yoga session and a traditional Bikram yoga session is that the sauna-yoga is much, much lighter and shorter, with a lot of breaks in-between poses. Also, by sauna yoga, I don’t mean that I do the full session in the actual sauna: I alternate between going in and out, including resting a lot outside in-between poses.

Me stretching in the sauna while trying to take a picture with one hand.
Image: Me stretching in the sauna while trying to take a picture with one hand.

My daily sauna session, with yoga-sauna

  • I start with a traditional sauna session (pouring some extra water on the stones to make it really hot).
  • Then, when it gets unbearably hot, I take a break outside (and sometimes an extra shower).
  • Thereafter, I usually do a very light, condensed version of a Bikram Yoga session.
  • During this session I spend about half (or perhaps a quarter) of the time inside the sauna, and about half (or possibly 3 fourths) of the time outside of it.
  • Next, after relaxing and drinking a lot of water outside of the sauna, I usually do one more session of just sitting in the sauna. (I often pour a bit more water on the stones to make it really hot again.)
  • If I’m in a hurry, I just do parts of this program. I always finish off with a shower that is not too hot, because that makes me energetic again, so I can continue doing things during the day.
My cool-down place outside the sauna, where I spend about half of my sauna-yoga session.

My best tips doing sauna yoga

  • Don’t do all the yoga inside the sauna! Alternate between doing the yoga inside and outside of the sauna. (Always leave if you feel overheated.)
  • If it’s your own sauna, you can open the door during the yoga to make it cooler.
  • Take a lot of breaks! I spend a least half of my time just sitting or lying down taking breaks in the cool, outside of the sauna.
  • Everyone is different, but I prefer drinking A LOT of water AFTER the actual yoga session. It is typically not recommended to drink a lot of water during a hot yoga session in general, because it’s hard to stretch and turn up-side-down with water in your stomach. However, it’s VERY IMORTANT to load up with a lot of water at some point. I prefer to do this afterwards. I personally typically bring a big 1.5 Litre bottle of water that I drink (slowly) after my sauna yoga, and then I drink additional water during the day or evening.
  • I also usually make sure to eat a lot of extra sea-salt, to load up on all the electrolytes and minerals that I loose during the excessive sweating.
Me trying to do Bikram yoga at home with several layers of clothes during lock-down, before discovering sauna-yoga.
Image: Me trying to do Bikram yoga with a bunch of clothes on for heat during lock-down, before I discovered sauna yoga.

What the conventional knowledge says about Yoga and Sauna

Is yoga in the sauna possible?

Yes, it is possible to do yoga in a sauna. However, there are a few precautions and considerations to keep in mind.

First and foremost, it is important to make sure the sauna is a safe and comfortable environment for yoga practice. The temperature and humidity should be set at a level that is comfortable for you, and the room should be well-ventilated to ensure a healthy breathing environment. It is also important to have enough space to move and stretch comfortably.

When practicing yoga in a sauna, it is important to stay hydrated and take breaks as needed to prevent overheating. Bring a bottle of water into the sauna with you and drink as needed to help your body stay hydrated. You can also use a towel or cloth to wipe the sweat off your body during your practice to help your body cool down.

It is also important to listen to your body and stop practicing if you start to feel dizzy, nauseous, or experience any other negative symptoms. The heat and humidity of the sauna can affect your body’s ability to regulate its temperature, so it is important to be aware of your limits and take breaks as needed.

As for the types of yoga poses and sequences that are suitable for a sauna, it is best to stick with gentle, restorative poses that do not require a lot of physical effort. Forward folds, seated twists, and seated or lying down meditation poses are all good options. Avoid poses that require a lot of balance or physical effort, as these can be more strenuous in the heat and humidity of a sauna.

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It is also a good idea to start with a shorter yoga practice in the sauna and gradually increase the length as you become more comfortable with the heat and humidity. Begin with a few minutes of stretching or meditation and gradually increase the length of your practice as you feel ready.

In general, yoga in a sauna can be a relaxing and rejuvenating experience. However, it’s important to take precautions and listen to your body. (In sum, don’t overdo it!)

What is sauna yoga and how do you do it?

Sauna yoga is a type of yoga practice that is performed in a sauna, typically with the goal of enhancing the benefits of both yoga and sauna use. Sauna yoga is typically a more relaxed and restorative practice than traditional yoga, and it often involves a combination of stretching, meditation, and relaxation techniques.

To do sauna yoga, you will need a sauna that is comfortable and safe for yoga practice. The temperature and humidity should be set at a level that is comfortable for you, and the room should be well-ventilated to ensure a healthy breathing environment. You will also need a yoga mat or towel to practice on, and it is a good idea to bring a bottle of water into the sauna with you to help you stay hydrated.

When practicing sauna yoga, it is important to listen to your body and take breaks as needed to prevent overheating. You can use a towel or cloth to wipe the sweat off your body during your practice to help your body cool down. It is also a good idea to start with a shorter practice and gradually increase the length as you become more comfortable with the heat and humidity of the sauna.

As for the types of poses and sequences that are suitable for sauna yoga, it is best to stick with gentle, restorative poses that do not require a lot of physical effort. Forward folds, seated twists, and seated or lying down meditation poses are all good options. Avoid poses that require a lot of balance or physical effort, as these can be more strenuous in the heat and humidity of a sauna.

Overall, sauna yoga can be a relaxing and rejuvenating experience that combines the benefits of yoga and sauna use. Just remember to stay hydrated, listen to your body, and take breaks as needed.

How to do Bikram Yoga in the sauna: Is it even possible?

Bikram Yoga, also known as “hot yoga,” is a specific type of yoga practice that involves performing a set series of poses in a room heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit (40.6 degrees Celsius) with 40% humidity. It is possible to do Bikram Yoga in a sauna, although there are a few precautions and considerations to keep in mind.

First and foremost, it is important to make sure the sauna is a safe and comfortable environment for Bikram Yoga practice. The temperature and humidity should be set at the proper levels (105 degrees Fahrenheit with 40% humidity) to replicate the conditions of a Bikram Yoga studio. The room should also be well-ventilated to ensure a healthy breathing environment.

When practicing Bikram Yoga in a sauna, it is important to stay hydrated and take breaks as needed to prevent overheating. Bring a bottle of water into the sauna with you and drink as needed to help your body stay hydrated. You can also use a towel or cloth to wipe the sweat off your body during your practice to help your body cool down.

It is also important to listen to your body and stop practicing if you start to feel dizzy, nauseous, or experience any other negative symptoms. The heat and humidity of the sauna can affect your body’s ability to regulate its temperature, so it is important to be aware of your limits and take breaks as needed.

If you are new to Bikram Yoga or have not practiced in a sauna before, it is a good idea to start with a shorter practice and gradually increase the length as you become more comfortable with the heat and humidity. Begin with a few minutes of stretching or meditation and gradually increase the length of your practice as you feel ready.

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Can you even do light exercise in the sauna?

It is possible to do light exercise in a sauna, although there are a few precautions and considerations to keep in mind.

First and foremost, it is important to make sure the sauna is a safe and comfortable environment for exercise. The temperature and humidity should be set at a level that is comfortable for you, and the room should be well-ventilated to ensure a healthy breathing environment. It is also important to have enough space to move and exercise comfortably.

When exercising in a sauna, it is important to stay hydrated and take breaks as needed to prevent overheating. Bring a bottle of water into the sauna with you and drink as needed to help your body stay hydrated. You can also use a towel or cloth to wipe the sweat off your body during your exercise to help your body cool down.

It is also important to listen to your body and stop exercising if you start to feel dizzy, nauseous, or experience any other negative symptoms. The heat and humidity of the sauna can affect your body’s ability to regulate its temperature, so it is important to be aware of your limits and take breaks as needed.

As for the types of exercises that are suitable for a sauna, it is best to stick with low-intensity, low-impact activities that do not require a lot of physical effort. Walking, stretching, and light calisthenics are all good options. Avoid activities that require a lot of balance or coordination, as these can be more difficult in the heat and humidity of a sauna.

It is also a good idea to start with a shorter exercise session in the sauna and gradually increase the length as you become more comfortable with the heat and humidity.

Can you do just stretching in sauna and if so how?

Stretching in a sauna can be a relaxing and rejuvenating experience, as the heat and humidity can help to loosen and relax your muscles. However, it is important to take precautions and listen to your body to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

To do stretching in a sauna, make sure the sauna is a safe and comfortable environment for exercise. The temperature and humidity should be set at a level that is comfortable for you, and the room should be well-ventilated to ensure a healthy breathing environment. It is also important to have enough space to move and stretch comfortably.

When stretching in a sauna, it is important to stay hydrated and take breaks as needed to prevent overheating. Bring a bottle of water into the sauna with you and drink as needed to help your body stay hydrated. You can also use a towel or cloth to wipe the sweat off your body during your stretching to help your body cool down.

It is also important to listen to your body and stop stretching if you start to feel dizzy, nauseous, or experience any other negative symptoms. The heat and humidity of the sauna can affect your body’s ability to regulate its temperature, so it is important to be aware of your limits and take breaks as needed.

As for the types of stretches that are suitable for a sauna, it is best to stick with gentle stretches that do not require a lot of physical effort. Forward folds, seated twists, and standing stretches are all good options. Avoid stretches that require a lot of balance or coordination, as these can be more difficult in the heat and humidity of a sauna.

Conclusion: Can you really do yoga in the sauna?

Ok, so the final verdict is: Yes, you can actually do yoga in the sauna. However, you need to be really careful and take certain precautions, such as drinking lots of water, stopping when overheated, and spending lots of the time outside of the sauna.

Both my personal experience and the conventional knowledge on the topic points in the direction that you can actually do yoga in the sauna, if you’re really careful and listen to your body.

What do you think? Do you have any experience of doing yoga in the sauna? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Anna

Author: Anna Svensson

Anna is a Scandinavian who grew up with saunas. She has had a life-long love for, and interest in, saunas. In this blog, she shares her best hacks and things she has learned about saunas over the years. You can read more about Anna in the “About” page.

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