'Hot' Yoga Is No Better for Your Heart

  • 'Hot' Yoga Is No Better for Your Heart

'Hot' Yoga Is No Better for Your Heart

"So we thought that the heated environment in Bikram [hot] yoga would cause a greater response and have more benefit".

However the U.S. study is the first to determine if it is the heat or simply the yoga itself which provides the health boost.

"The heated practice environment did not seem to play a role in eliciting improvements in vascular health with bikram yoga", said study co-author Stacy Hunter of Texas State University. Vasodilation is associated with the production of nitric oxide, which helps to ward off inflammation. Additionally, there was evidence that the yoga may delay the progression of atherosclerosis, in which plaque builds up inside the arteries.

Proponents claim the hot, humid workout, which puts sweaty participants through a series of 26 poses, burns more calories than yoga performed at room temperature, and is better at flushing out toxins. The 12-week study split previously sedentary group of 52 people into three groups: a group of 19 who did no exercise, and two groups of 19 and 14 who each took three identical yoga classes a week with the former group practising under heated conditions, and the latter in normal temperature. One group practiced Bikram in a hot environment; a second group practiced Bikram in a room that was 73 degrees; and a third "control" group wasn't assigned to either of the two Bikram classes.

Measuring blood vessel function using ultrasound, they found no difference between the hot yoga and traditional yoga group - but both groups showed better results than those who did no yoga.

The difference in participants' blood vessels was measured after three months of yoga sessions, done three times a week for 90 minutes.

That said, it should be reiterated that the study was concerned primarily with vascular health.

The study authors also noted that some older adults become less tolerant of heat as they age, so the finding could be of interest to seniors who are drawn to the potential heart health benefits of yoga but are leery of exposure to excessive heat.