Most new hot yoga studios have started using Infrared Light to heat their classrooms. The reason for the recent trend is that Infrared Heat is significantly less expensive to install and extremely easy to maintain. But is it safe? At Hot 8 Yoga, we set out to create a healthy atmosphere, free of harmful rays like Infrared. We strive to create a healthy and positive culture, and make ‘invisible’ efforts to maintain a healthy and germ-free environment for you to practice in. That is why we have invested the additional expense and energy in creating the safest heating environment without the use of any Infrared Light heat.
We want to talk about the use of Infrared light as a method of heating a yoga studio. We’d like to give you our perspective on the facts about Infrared Heat and enough information for you to do your own research and come to your own conclusions.
We hope you paid attention in physics class, because it’s about to get science-y. Even if you didn’t major in Electromagnetic Theory, we did the research for you and will make it as simple as possible.Some hot yoga studios are using Infrared Lights as a cheaper and easier alternative method to heat the studio. Infrared light is a type of light that is invisible to the human eye. Did you know humans can only see a very small range of light? And that if we could see the entire spectrum of light, we would be able to see the radio waves that power our AM/FM tuners? Cool, huh? We think so, too. But we decided against using Infrared Light as a method of heating because science. Check it out:
Infrared heats you from within using a very basic form of radiation. Yes, radiation. Not nuclear or x-ray level radiation, just heat created through light. Think those red lights that keep fast-food warm or microwave ovens. Yes, that’s infrared light. If you’re starting to get why we chose not to use Infrared light to heat our studios, you’re a smart one. According to Darvill Clara, too much Infrared radiation has a very simple consequence- overheating. However, we believe a Hot Yoga studio is not the place for Infrared Radiation. This is because prolonged exposure to Infrared light is unhealthy. The Industrial Safety and Hygiene News did a study on the consequences of prolonged exposure to Infrared Radiation/Light, which you can read (click here).
Basically, it’s bad for your skin, and really bad for your eyes. From the ISHN Study, “IR [Infrared], particularly IR-A or near IR (700nm-1400nm), raises the internal temperature of the eye, essentially ‘baking’ it. Medical studies indicate that prolonged IR exposure can lead to lens, cornea and retina damage, including cataracts, corneal ulcers and retinal burns, respectively.”
Sounds rough. In regards to IR and your skin: that ‘warming’ sensation you get from feeling that red IR light is actually your pain receptors warning you against the thermal effect of IR (ISHN). Prolonged exposure to any form of IR is bad for you. 30 minutes is enough for the negative effects of IR radiation to outweigh the positives of focused, intentional IR therapy. How long are your Hot Yoga sessions? Probably more than 30 minutes.
Compound the exposure of IR for 60 minutes of yoga class, 5 times a week and it makes you wonder if you are doing more harm than good practicing yoga at one of those studios. Additionally, the closer the IR heat source is, the more harm it can do. Have you ever looked up and seen the IR panel in a yoga studio? It is usually less than 2 feet right above your head. Also, the warmer you make the room the more dangerous the IR becomes. In looking at all of the facts together, Hot 8 Yoga came to the conclusion that using radiation to heat our rooms was not worth the potential harm it could do.
Our studios use forced hot air, which has been humidified, disinfected for germs and is constantly being monitored for increased levels of CO2 (See our previous articles on CO2, Humidity & how we keep our studio germ-free). We do not use Infrared light to heat any of our facilities and deliberately chose forced air heating using natural gas because we went through great lengths to deliver on our promise of creating a place of community that promotes health, mindfulness, and order that is accessible to all. Using infrared light in our studio would compromise our commitment to ensuring a healthy, positive atmosphere and the idea of practicing in anything like a microwave oven seemed counter to our purpose.