A new study out concludes that Bikram yoga is no more benefefical than others forms of yoga practiced at room temperature. Bikram yoga, which takes place in rooms heated to 40 degrees celsius (104F) and involves 26 poses and 2 breathing exercises, was founded by Bikram Choudhury and is popular worldwide.
Research carried out by Texas State University and the University of Texas at Austin found that the heated environment did not carry any benefits to vascular health compared to the same routines carried out a normal room temperature. However, the research did find that it reduced changes in the lining of blood vessels and delayed atherosclerosis (plaque build up in the arteries) which can lead to heart diseases and stroke or heart attack.
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Stacy D Hunter, one of the lead researchers on the study, said “The new finding from this investigation was that the heated practice environment did not seem to play a role in eliciting improvements in vascular health with Bikram yoga. This is the first publication to date to show a beneficial effect of the practice in the absence of the heat.”
The study lasted for 12 weeks with 80 participants taking three classes of yoga per week. Split into groups, they either practiced heated yoga, room temperature yoga or were a control group that abstained from yoga.
Measurements taken throughout the study included blood pressure, weight, cholesterol levels and testing the ability of the main artery in the forearm to dilate to increased blood flow – a measure that shows the functioning of inner blood vessels.