Hot Yoga was founded by controversial coach Bikram Choudhury in 26 poses and two breathing exercises in a room heated to 40 ° C (104 ° F).
Now that hot yoga classes were first introduced in the 1970s, they are ubiquitous and some have shown that they can provide health benefits, including improving the function of the inner lining of blood vessels – problems that are related to increasing the risk of internal fat plaque.
But now researchers think the potential benefits of Bikram are not the problem.
Stacey Hunter, Ph.D., co-author and research director at Texas State University, said: “Postural and breathing exercises are enough to trigger some beneficial adaptations to reduce the risk of heart disease in the absence of a hot environment. Pure Action, a yoga promotion group, Sponsored the study
The benefits of yoga and health are not the first, as previous studies have shown that they can ride a bike or go faster in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
However, some of these effects are more intense for different types of yoga, or how much yoga is needed to see the benefits.
Hunter and colleagues write in The Journal of Experimental Physiology describing how they randomly assigned healthy but sedentary middle-aged people to one of three groups. Nineteen students conducted as usual, 14 for three 90-minute Bikram classes at room temperature for 12 weeks and 19 for Bikram classes at 40.5 ° C.
As part of the study, a series of measurements including body weight, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and the ability of the forearm aorta to dilate in response to increased blood flow (measuring the function of the internal vascular lining) were performed.
The results showed that although both yoga groups improved in terms of intimal function, the benefits were the same regardless of body temperature. Those who did not do yoga showed no improvement.
There was no significant effect on blood pressure, cholesterol, lipids, body weight, or blood glucose in any of the groups, but the team noted that those taking hot yoga showed a small drop in body fat probably due to the use of extra energy.
Paulus Kirchhof, a professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Birmingham, said that on the whole, the health effects of yoga are not clear.
“Yoga, similar to anything else that helps improve vascular health, says yoga itself is not as effective at lowering blood pressure or if yoga has similar effects to regular physical activity,” he added, adding Yoga is offered as an optional supplement, advising people to take recommended 30-45 minutes of moderate activity five times a week.
Julie Ward, a senior cardiologist at the British Heart Foundation, said earlier studies showed that measures, including blood pressure and cholesterol, have improved, but high temperatures may be dangerous for people with heart disease.
But that does not mean that people should roll up their own cushions. Ward said: “The benefits of yoga for emotional wellbeing have been established and any physical activity that helps to reduce our fatal heart attack or stroke should be encouraged.