I just like being warm!
One of my first and favorite yoga teachers taught a 45-minute Baptiste-style class at my super cheap gym. The room was the “group exercise” room and one wall was all mirrors … not only was it not heated to 95 degrees, it got downright chilly at times. It was six months before I visited the yoga studio where he taught, which of course had heated classes that usually lasted 90 minutes.
I was worried about passing out or throwing up. Neither of those things happened. I sure did sweat a lot, more than I ever had before, but it was fine. And I wasn’t chilly!
Although I do go to some mildly heated vinyasa classes now, or 75-minute “power” classes, just are not as rigorous as my old classes. I think practicing in such high heat does make it more challenging, and I’m grateful I went to all my old classes – not just for the immediate benefit to my mind and body, but also because they helped me build strength. And strength is necessary in other classes. The strength I gained in those classes, and the cardio health I attribute at least partly to the heat (I do have to credit running half marathons too for the cardio stuff) both help me try and master more challenging poses that are taught in my current classes and were missing from my old practice.
Even though I like the heat, I don’t think it is essential. I’ve definitely been challenged as well in some non-heated classes, and I do think the heat may give people an exagerated sense of the “workout” they are getting in a class.
But I do just like it.