Is Hot Yoga Better Better For Your Heart?

To answer that question, the investigators focused on 52 sedentary but healthy adults aged 40 to 60.

Study participants were randomly assigned to one of three different groups. 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.

For three months, the two Bikram groups engaged in three 90-minute yoga classes per week. In addition, the researchers measured each participant’s vasodilation levels.
In the end, the investigators determined that both Bikram groups achieved similar improvements in their vasodilation levels, regardless of room temperature.

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.

The findings were published in the Jan. 18 issue of the journal Experimental Physiology.

Dr. Gregg Fonarow, co-director of the UCLA Preventative Cardiology Program in Los Angeles, cautioned there is no solid evidence to suggest that any form of yoga offers a leg up when it comes to heart health.

“There are multiple factors that can impact vascular dilation that do not translate to reduction in cardiovascular events. [And] these findings are not sufficient evidence to reach conclusions regarding potential benefits of yoga or Bikram yoga on heart or vascular health,” Fonarow said.

“Individuals interested in improving heart and vascular health should follow evidence-based recommendations regarding physical activity, healthy diet, maintaining healthy body weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and not smoking,” he added.

Bikram Yoga International did not respond to a request from HealthDay for comment.

More information

There’s more on yoga and heart health at the American Heart Association.

SOURCES: Stacy Hunter, Ph.D., assistant professor, exercise & sports science, department of health and human performance, Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas; Gregg Fonarow, M.D. director, Ahmanson-UCLA Cardiomyopathy Center, co-director, UCLA Preventative Cardiology Program, and co-chief, UCLA Division of Cardiology, Los Angeles; Jan. 18, 2018, Experimental Physiology

Last Updated: Jan 19, 2018