The surprising benefits of hot yoga
(NaturalHealth365) Hot yoga – in the “strict sense” – usually involves a 90-minutes class of 26 exercise, but what makes it unique is that it’s done in a room temperature of 105 degrees Fahrenheit – along with 40% humidity. Nowadays, there are many businesses that offer modified classes with less heat, duration and fewer poses. But, ultimately, any yoga class done in higher than normal temperatures will result in a higher heart rate and core temperature for participants, although the actual calorie burn varies from person to person.
Studies done over the past few years indicate that performing hot yoga regularly has a positive effect on overall fitness and brings with it other health benefits, such as improved strength and flexibility. However, a more recent study presented at the American Heart Association’s Hypertension 2019 Scientific Sessions, discovered that hot yoga helps lower blood pressure, as well.
Research reveals what hot yoga does to the entire body
Looking back over the past few years, a couple of different studies done by Brian Tracy, an associate professor in the Colorado State University’s Department of Health and Exercise Science, have explored the health and fitness benefits of hot yoga.
In a 2008 study, Tracy discovered that test subjects who began doing hot yoga and had never done it before saw an increase in both strength, muscle control, and balance. The study involved participants taking a 24-session, eight-weight hot yoga program, and those who took the program had significantly better results than individuals in the control group.
In 2013, in a paper Tracy had published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, Tracy discovered that hot yoga also resulted in significant gains in shoulder, hamstring, and spine flexibility, as well as improved total body strength. However, aerobic fitness and cardiovascular performance remained nearly the same in participants, likely due to the healthy cardiovascular status and brief training period of the study’s participants.
New study finds hot yoga lowers blood pressure
Beyond the excellent health and fitness benefits of hot yoga, more recent research supports the ability of hot yoga to help lower blood pressure. In a study done on adults who had stage 1 hypertension or elevated blood pressure, taking hot yoga resulted in reduced blood pressure levels.
There’s already evidence supporting the positive effect of traditional, room-temperature yoga on blood pressure, but this was the first time that hot yoga was explored to discover how it affected blood pressure.
Adults in the study were not taking blood pressure medications and they had been sedentary for a minimum of six months before being involved in the study. Five study participants were randomly assigned to take three-times-weekly hour classes of hot yoga for 12 weeks.
After the 12-week period, individuals taking hot yoga saw a decrease in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and perceived stress levels was lowered among individuals in the hot yoga group, too.
Although researchers caution that larger studies are needed, the evidence points to the benefit of hot yoga for blood pressure, in additional to its ability to improve strength, flexibility, muscle control, and balance. Of course, as with any other type of exercise program, it’s always important to discuss this form of exercise with your doctor before you decide to begin practicing hot yoga – especially if you tend to be dehydrated or suffer from any cardiovascular health issues.
Sources for this article include: