Bikram yoga not so hot after all: New study finds yoga benefits are the same at room temperature as they are for the hot Bikram version

Yoga is an ancient practice that continuous to prove its mettle today; and while there are different types of yoga, it does not need to be hot in order to provide beneficial effects. A study carried out by researchers from Texas State University and the University of Texas at Austin in the U.S. revealed that yoga done in normal temperatures has the same health benefits as hot yoga or Bikram yoga.

In the study, the study authors assessed 52 sedentary but healthy adults who were 40 to 60 years old. The participants were randomly divided into three groups – Bikram yoga practiced at 40.5°C, Bikram yoga practiced at a normal temperature of 23°C, and a group who did not do yoga. Each hot yoga practice was conducted for 90 minutes three times a week for 12 weeks. Moreover, the researchers analyzed the heart health of the participants, particularly focusing on the endothelium, which is a thin lining inside the heart and blood vessels. It dilates less as people age, and is associated with heart disease and function.

Results showed that participants in the two yoga groups produced the same beneficial effects in protecting the heart and blood vessels. This indicates that the heated environment did not play a role in causing enhancements in the health of the heart and blood vessels.

The study authors conclude that the postures or stretches and muscular contractions done in yoga, such as the “half-moon pose” and “cobra,” are the factors that produce beneficial effects and not the temperature in which they are conducted in.

"This is the first publication to date to show a beneficial effect of the practice in the absence of the heat," said Stacy Hunter, lead author of the study. “These results indicate that the set sequence of 26 postures and two breathing exercises may be the key ingredient in producing favourable changes in endothelial function with yoga.”

The findings of the study were published in the journal Experimental Physiology.

Yoga and its other health benefits

Yoga provides other health benefits other than supporting heart health. Practicing yoga does not have to be overwhelming, but it is challenging. Listed below are the other health benefits of practicing yoga.

  • Promotes positive body image – Yoga is not about the physical appearance, but the body's inner state. It directs your attention to your body's capabilities in the present. It improves breath and strength of the mind and body. Furthermore, it helps promote positive body image and boost self-esteem.

  • Encourages mindfulness – Yoga practice increases mindfulness even in other areas of life and not just in a yoga class. Being mindful is being aware of the moment without judgment. Research also showed that people who practice yoga are more mindful eaters, and that practicing yoga increases their awareness of how their body feels.

  • Helps lose weight – Since those who practice yoga are mindful eaters, they are more aware of their eating habits and their bodies.

  • Makes you more fit – A study found that practicing yoga improves muscle strength and endurance, flexibility, and cardio-respiratory fitness.

  • Relieves stress – Practicing yoga is also beneficial for the mind as it can also relieve stress, soothe tension, and prevent anxiety. (Related: Multiple studies find that yoga can reduce the symptoms of depression.)

Read more stories on how to improve mind and body health at MindBodyScience.news.

Sources include:

DailyMail.co.uk

Health.Harvard.edu

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