Hot yoga is a popular form of yoga performed in heated rooms with temperatures ranging from 80 to 105°F. The heat allows your muscles to relax and stretch more deeply. However, the high temperatures can also lead to side effects like diarrhea in some people.
If you’ve experienced an urgent need to use the bathroom during or after hot yoga, you likely want to get to the bottom of what’s causing it. Here’s a detailed look at how hot yoga can lead to diarrhea and how to prevent it.
Why Does Hot Yoga Cause Diarrhea for Some People ?
There are a few reasons why hot yoga may lead to diarrhea or loose stools in prone individuals:
Heat and Sweating
The main reason hot yoga can cause diarrhea is the heat and sweating involved. Getting overheated causes your body to lose fluid and electrolytes through heavy sweating.
This dehydration combined with a slower blood flow to your gut can result in looser bowel movements. The heat makes your intestines contract more, speeding up transit time.
When you sweat heavily, you also lose essential minerals like magnesium and salt. Low magnesium levels are directly linked to diarrhea and GI upset.
Magnesium helps draw water into the colon to produce well-formed stool. So the magnesium loss in sweat can cause your stool to become looser.
Drinking Too Much Water
It’s easy to become dehydrated during hot yoga from fluid loss. Many people try to rehydrate by chugging water before, during, or after class.
But drinking too much water can throw off your electrolyte balance. This may end up causing diarrhea, especially if the water you drink is cold.
Stress on the Body
Hot yoga classes push your body quite hard. Between the intense heat, challenging poses, and cardiovascular effort, it amounts to a significant physical stress.
This degree of exertion and demand on your body can also influence digestion. The stress hormones released may irritate your gut and contribute to diarrhea.
Tips to Prevent Hot Yoga Diarrhea
If you want to continue enjoying hot yoga without the unpleasant runs, try these proactive tips:
Drink 16-20 oz of fluid 2 hours before class
Choose electrolyte drinks instead of just plain water
Avoid chugging large amounts; sip periodically
Drink 8 oz every 20-30 minutes during class
Take a magnesium supplement or use magnesium oil before class
Eat magnesium-rich foods like leafy greens, nuts, or beans
Eat a Fiber-Rich Meal
Eating a meal 3-4 hours before class that contains soluble fiber can help solidify stools. Choose foods like oatmeal, beans, apples, and flaxseeds.
Avoid Certain Foods
Skip hard-to-digest foods before hot yoga that may aggravate diarrhea like:
Allow Time to Cool Down
Give your body 15-20 minutes after class to start cooling off before chugging water or electrolyte drinks. This gives your digestion a chance to normalize.
Practice Poses for Digestion
Certain yoga poses are known to aid digestion. Work these into your routine to regulate your GI tract:
Legs on the wall pose
Talk to Your Instructor
Let your yoga instructor know about your issues with diarrhea. They can suggest modifications like breaks or alternative poses that won’t exacerbate the problem.
When to See a Doctor
While occasional loose stools after hot yoga are likely not concerning, recurrent or severe diarrhea warrants medical attention. See your doctor if you experience:
Diarrhea lasting over 48 hours
Severe abdominal pain or cramping
Blood or mucus in stool
Signs of dehydration like dizziness, excessive thirst, or dark urine
Fever over 101°F
These symptoms could indicate an underlying intestinal issue being aggravated by hot yoga. It’s important to get evaluated and treated appropriately.
Enjoy Hot Yoga Safely
Hot yoga offers incredible benefits for flexibility, strength, and mental wellbeing when practiced safely. With the right hydration strategies, diet modifications, and poses, most people can reap the rewards of hot yoga without unwanted diarrhea. Pay attention to your body, and consult a doctor if bowel issues persist.