Flowing in a heated room with increased humidity and unlimited sweat might seam like an extra efficient workout — we all know how successful it feels to finish a session just dripping with sweat — but a new study suggests that hot yoga might not really be that much better for your health than regular yoga.
According to a study completed by researchers at Texas State University in San Marcos, and published in the journal Experimental Physiology, you don’t have to do your Bikram yoga session in a heated room to get all of the benefits.
The researchers tasked middle-aged people to complete a 12-week yoga regimen. They were all required to attend Bikram classes at least three times per week. Half of the participants were asked to do it in a hot room, and the other half were asked to do it in a normal temperature.
At the end of the study, researchers found that the people who completed hot yoga saw serious improvements in their vascular health.
But they also saw the very same improvement in those people who didn’t attend the class in a highly heated room.
“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 study author Dr. Stacy D. Hunter. “It’s definitely showing benefits to the 26-posture sequence. It just doesn’t seem like the heat is necessary in terms of improving heart health.”
While this doesn’t mean that you should go out and ditch your hot yoga routine, it does mean that if you’re looking to gain the benefits — for your flexibility, and your heart — you don’t necessarily have to sweat your way to get them.