Hot Yoga for Stress and Hypertension

Research study at Texas State University hints at hot yoga benefit for blood pressure

The first research study on a 60-minute hot yoga class shows a benefit for reducing blood pressure and relieving stress. Regular, room-temperature yoga has been shown to have a positive effect on blood pressure. But researchers at Texas State University in San Marcos said little was known about hot yoga – which is typically offered in a humid atmosphere, at room temperatures of about 105 degrees.

So, the research team, led by Dr. Stacy Hunter, a Board member of PURE Action, Inc., 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. Elevated is when systolic, or the top measurement, is between 120 and 129, and diastolic, or bottom number, is less than 80. Stage 1 high blood pressure is 130 to 139 systolic or 80 to 89 diastolic pressure.

They were not taking blood pressure medication and had not engaged in a regular physical fitness routine for at least six months. Researchers randomly assigned five participants to take hour long hot yoga classes three times a week at PURE Yoga Texas in Austin, Texas. The other five took no yoga classes.

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

The yoga group also saw a lowering of perceived stress levels; the non-yoga group did not.

“The results of our study start the conversation that hot yoga could be feasible and effective in terms of reducing blood pressure without medication,” study author Stacy Hunter said in a news release. She is 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 Thursday 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,” said Hunter.

ORIGINAL SOURCE: Heart.org by the American Heart Association News, “Study hints at hot yoga benefit for blood pressure” https://www.heart.org/en/news/2019/09/05/study-hints-at-hot-yoga-benefit-for-blood-pressure

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