When it comes to yoga enthusiasts, there are two distinct camps: the Bikram devotees who live to sweat it out, and those who look a little like this as soon as the temp starts to soar:
But aside from the satisfaction you get from wringing out your tank top once class is done, a new study by Texas State University suggests that adding heat to the workout doesn’t really have any benefit.
In fact, researchers say it’s the postures used in Bikram – such as the ‘half-moon pose’ and ‘cobra’ - that are responsible for promoting cardiovascular health, not the temperature in which they are performed.
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For the study, 52 people were split into three groups; the first doing yoga in 40 degrees, the second in 23 degrees and the third not doing any at all.
After 12 weeks, the researchers assessed the participants vascular health by measuring changes in endothelial function and the ability of blood vessels to dilate in response to increased blood flow. Both yoga groups showed positive changes that decreased their risk of heart disease, while the control group didn’t see any difference.
“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,” explained lead author and Texas State University assistant professor, Stacy Hunter.
“It just doesn’t seem like the heat is necessary in terms of improving heart health.”
In short: traditional yoga will give you the exact same results as Bikram yoga, sans the soggy active-wear.