Inside Yoga 224 (29/1/2018)
A recent scientific study has revealed that hot yoga (with temperatures about 40C) is no better to our health than yoga practised in normal or warm temperatures.
A new study by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) suggests that while some may swear by it as being tough and good for weight loss this is not backed up by their study.
Dr Cedric Bryant, ACE chief science officer said: “The benefits are largely perceptual. People think the degree of sweat is the quality of the workout, but that’s not reality. It doesn’t correlate to burning more calories.”
He said many devotees enjoy hot yoga because it allows them to feel more flexible. However, the same physical benefits of muscular strength, endurance, flexibility and balance could be achieved from a standard class, at comfortable temperatures.
“The postures and the breathing exercises are enough in the absence of the heated environment to elicit some beneficial adaptations that could reduce the risk of heart disease,” said Dr Stacey Hunter, co-author of the research from Texas State University and research director for yoga-promoting organisation Pure Action Inc, which funded the study.
Writing in the journal Experimental Physiology, Hunter and colleagues describe how they randomly assigned healthy but sedentary middle-aged adults to one of three groups. While 19 participants carried on as usual, 14 undertook 12 weeks of three 90-minute Bikram classes at room temperature and 19 participants undertook Bikram classes at 40.5C.
The results reveal that while both yoga groups showed improvements in function of their artery lining, the size of the benefits was the same regardless of the temperature of the classes. Those who did not do yoga showed no improvements.
From my point of view this sort of study is welcome and about time, because I believe that the hot yoga is just a gimmick and their exercises make little difference. The heat is not the point of yoga, with its exercises being just one part of yoga and the mind being at the heart of yoga practice. Furthermore, there are plenty of yogis across the world, particularly in India where yoga originates, practicing in the cold, often freezing mountains, without thinking they need a hot yoga studio. Yoga is a state of mind, with the temperature being a secondary consideration.
A warm room, of course, is welcome and more comfortable, but temperatures of 40C never made sense to me, because I have lived in hot countries and though it might feel easier to stretch it is not necessary to go into what is not more than an exercise sauna and think this is yoga.
There are several reports on this story, including the Guardian and Telegraph quoted above, click on links below to read full story.
The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/jan/19/hot-or-not-bikram-no-more-beneficial-than-any-other-yoga-says-vascular-study
The Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/10223325/Hot-yoga-no-better-than-normal-yoga.html
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