"These results lend further insight into the health benefits of Bikram yoga that have previously been purported but had not been fully explored".
As the New York Times' Well blog reported in 2016, hot yoga may put more of a strain on people's bodies and make them more likely to dehydrate.
"These novel findings highlight the effectiveness of hatha yoga postures alone, in the absence of a heated practice environment, in improving vascular health and are of clinical significance given the increased propensity toward heat intolerance in aging adults", the authors wrote.
Is hot yoga-the practice of holding poses under hot and humid conditions-better for you than normal, non-sweat inducing yoga? Vasodilation is associated with the production of nitric oxide, which helps to ward off inflammation. It also found that it can possibly delay the progression of atherosclerosis, which is a disease in which plaque builds up inside arteries and can cause heart attack or stroke. The intervention lasted for 12 weeks and participants were asked to attend 3 Bikram yoga classes per week. It is known as "hot yoga" because it requires that practice takes place at a room temperature of around 40°C and a relative humidity of 40-60 percent.
80 participants were enrolled and randomised to one of three study groups after preliminary screening.
For three months, the two Bikram groups engaged in three 90-minute yoga classes per week.
The study authors also noted that some older adults become less tolerant of heat as they age, so the finding could be of interest to seniors who are drawn to the potential heart health benefits of yoga but are leery of exposure to excessive heat.
Dr. Gregg Fonarow, co-director of the UCLA Preventative Cardiology Program in Los Angeles, cautioned there is no solid evidence to suggest that any form of yoga offers a leg up when it comes to heart health.
Hot yoga was found to slightly reduce people's cholesterol and body fat percentage - however the change was deemed statistically insignificant. A longer course of yoga may have had more of an effect, she says.