Small Study Suggests Hot Yoga May Benefit Blood Pressure

Here's a reason to warm up to the idea of hot yoga: It could possibly help lower blood pressure, a small study suggests.

Regular, room-temperature yoga has been shown to have a positive effect on blood pressure. But researchers at Texas State University in San Marcos say little is known about hot yoga—which typically is offered in a humid atmosphere, at room temperatures of about 105° F.

So, the researchers recruited 10 men and women between the ages of 20 and 65. The participants had blood pressure that was considered elevated, or at the first stage of hypertension. They weren’t taking blood pressure medication and hadn’t engaged in a regular physical fitness routine for at least six months.

Researchers randomly assigned five participants to take hourlong hot yoga classes three times a week. The other five had no yoga classes.

At 12 weeks, the hot yoga group's systolic blood pressure dropped from an average of 126 at the study's start to 121 after 12 weeks. Their average diastolic pressure decreased from 82 to 79. Those who didn’t take classes saw no change.

The yoga group also saw a lowering of perceived stress levels; the nonyoga group didn’t.

"The results of our study start the conversation that hot yoga could be feasible and effective in terms of reducing blood pressure without medication," said study author Stacy Hunter, PhD, in a news release. She’s an assistant professor and lab director of the cardiovascular physiology lab at Texas State. "However, larger studies need to be done before we can say with confidence that hot yoga has a positive impact on blood pressure."

The preliminary research was presented at the American Heart Association's Hypertension 2019 Scientific Sessions in New Orleans.

"Hot yoga is gaining popularity, and we're even seeing other styles of yoga, like Vinyasa and power yoga, being offered in heated studios," Hunter said.

Safety precautions are important, she said. Adults should talk to their doctor before starting any new exercise regimen. People who take hot yoga classes should be hydrated when they arrive, drink water throughout the class, dress appropriately, not overdo it, and be aware of symptoms of heat illness.

— Source: American Heart Association