While the study authors note that more research needs to be done to compare the benefits of heated versus non-heated yoga when it comes to depression, here’s where I’ll offer my anecdotal take.
I’ve been practicing yoga since 2011 and hot yoga, specifically, since 2017. I got certified as a Vinyasa yoga teacher in 2018, and am wrapping up a hot yoga teacher training next month. In the midst of all that, I have also had my fair share of mental health struggles as I’ve navigated early adulthood, moving to new cities, the pandemic, an admittedly turbulent menstrual cycle, etc.
Through all of that, yoga has been one of the only things that gives me some semblance of peace and stillness, and while I haven’t participated in any scientific research to back up my claims, I have seen firsthand how much the practice benefits myself and others.
I’d say any style of yoga is worthwhile if you’re experiencing depressive symptoms, but when it comes to hot yoga, it definitely has a certain edge. The heat and humidity require you to push yourself past mental barriers, tap into your inner strength and resilience, learn to be in your body and stay with the sensations even when they’re challenging—and all of that makes one’s mind calmer while simultaneously more mindful and present.
I also believe that the repetitive, meditative style of the hot sequence promotes nervous system regulation, because the body loves routine, and you always know what to expect in a hot yoga class. Research has found that hot yoga may “induce cardiovascular and cellular changes, along with neural benefits and modulation of stress hormones.”
In short: I can back up the results of this study with lived experience, and it would not be a stretch to say hot yoga has been the best thing I’ve found for my mental health.