Heat Not Needed for Bikram Yoga to Confer Vascular Benefits

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Increase in brachial artery flow-mediated dilation seen in heated and thermoneutral environment
Increase in brachial artery flow-mediated dilation seen in heated and thermoneutral environment

HealthDay News — Bikram yoga is associated with endothelium-dependent vasodilation (as measured using brachial artery flow-mediated dilation) in a heated or thermoneutral environment, according to a study published online January 18 in Experimental Physiology.

Stacy D. Hunter, PhD, from Texas State University in San Marcos, and colleagues examined the effect of environmental temperature in hot yoga on endothelial function. Fifty-two sedentary but healthy adults aged 40 to 60 years were randomized to Bikram yoga practiced at 40.5 degrees Celsius, Bikram yoga practiced at 23 degrees Celsius, or sedentary time-control (19, 14, and 19 participants in each group, respectively). The 12-week yoga intervention included 90-minute Bikram yoga classes 3 times a week. 

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The researchers found that after the intervention there were significant declines in body fat percentage determined via dual X-ray absorptiometry (P<0.01), and a trend toward reductions in total (P=0.051) and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol concentrations (P=0.09), in the hot yoga group only. In both yoga groups there was an increase in brachial artery flow-mediated dilation (P<0.05). In the time-control group there were no significant changes in any outcome variables.

"These [novel] findings highlight the effectiveness of hatha yoga postures alone, in the absence of a heated practice environment, in improving vascular health and are of clinical significance given the increased propensity toward heat intolerance in aging adults," the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to Pure Action, Inc., which funded the study.

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