Hot yoga improved ambulatory blood pressure and reduced mental stress, a correlate of hypertension, in adults with elevated blood pressure and stage I hypertension, according to a study presented at AHA’s Hypertension 2019 Scientific Sessions held in New Orleans last month.
Previous research has shown reductions in ambulatory blood pressure with regular, room-temperature yoga, but no studies have investigated the blood pressure impact of hot yoga, which is typically offered in a humid atmosphere, with room temperatures around 105 degrees Fahrenheit.
“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 study lead Stacy Hunter, Ph.D., of Texas State University in San Marcos.
Researchers randomly assigned 10 sedentary, unmedicated men and women, aged 20 to 65 years, with either elevated blood pressure (120-129 mmHg for systolic with a diastolic below 80 mmHg) or stage I hypertension (130-139 mmHg for systolic or 80-89 mmHg for diastolic) to take 12 weeks of three-times-weekly hour-long hot yoga classes or no yoga classes. The researchers looked at average 24-hour blood pressure readings, along with perceived stress and vascular function.
In the yoga group, 24-hour systolic blood pressure dropped from an average 126 mmHg at the study’s start to 121 mmHg at 12 weeks, and 24-hour diastolic decreased from 82 mmHg to 79 mmHg, while perceived stress levels also fell. Average blood pressure and perceived stress levels did not change in the control group.
“These blood pressure reductions were observed in the absence of blood pressure medications or weight loss, and do not appear to be associated with improvements in pulse wave analysis,” the authors wrote.
“The results of our study start the conversation that hot yoga could be feasible and effective in terms of reducing blood pressure without medication,” Dr. Hunter said, but she recommended larger studies to determine if the practice has true blood pressure lowering effect.
“Hot Yoga and Hypertension: Exploration of a Novel Lifestyle Intervention.” Stacy Hunter , A. Tobi Fadeyi , James Shadiow. Sept 5, 2019. Hypertension 2019. Abstract number P196.