Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin and Texas State University recently compared the physical effects of a Bikram yoga flow in a room set to 104 degrees Fahrenheit with the same 26-posture sequence in a room set to 73 degrees in a study published in Experimental Physiology. The experiment was done repeatedly for 12 weeks, while the participants' vascular health was measured. Ultimately, yogis in both rooms experienced similar benefits.
Everyone reaped the benefits of better blood flow and improved vascular health. (In case there was any doubt, yoga is good for your heart.) So why didn't researchers see a difference between the group in the heated room and the one with the AC going? The authors of the study didn't specify, so the jury may still be out.
"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," says Stacy D. Hunter, one of the study's authors. What about the other potential health benefits of doing some serious sweating while you're getting your Warrior II on? (Proponents say it is effective at releasing toxins from the body and easing chronic pain, among other things—which weren't studied in this experiment.) Especially since this publication is the first to look specifically at this hot vs. not yoga question at all, it seems like there's more research to be done. Your move, academia.
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