Bikram Yoga Training and Physical Fitness in Healthy Young Adults

Neuromuscular Function Laboratory, Department of Health and Exercise Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO.
The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (Impact Factor: 2.08). 05/2012; 27(3). DOI: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31825c340f
Source: PubMed


There has been relatively little longitudinal, controlled investigation of the effects of yoga on general physical fitness, despite the widespread participation in this form of exercise. The purpose of this exploratory study was to examine the effect of short-term Bikram™ yoga training on general physical fitness. Young healthy adults were randomized to yoga training (N=10, 29 ± 6 yrs, 24 sessions in eight weeks) or a control group (N=11, 26 ± 7 yrs). Each yoga training session consisted of 90 min of standardized, supervised postures performed in a heated and humidified studio. Isometric deadlift strength, handgrip strength, lower back/hamstring and shoulder flexibility, resting heart rate and blood pressure, maximal oxygen consumption (treadmill), and lean and fat mass (DEXA) were measured before and after training. Yoga subjects exhibited increased deadlift strength, substantially increased lower back/hamstring flexibility, increased shoulder flexibility, and modestly decreased body fat compared with Control. There were no changes in handgrip strength, cardiovascular measures, or maximal aerobic fitness. In summary, this short-term yoga training protocol produced beneficial changes in musculoskeletal fitness that were specific to the training stimulus.

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    • "Several studies have investigated the effects of Bikram yoga practice on health using various study designs [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10]; however, to our knowledge, these studies have never been synthesized and critiqued and, accordingly, there is no consensus in the scientific literature regarding the effectiveness of Bikram yoga on health. Therefore, the purpose of this review is twofold: (1) to summarize studies that have investigated the effect of Bikram yoga practice on health-related outcomes and (2) to provide recommendations for the development of more robust trials and novel research questions to address the limitations of the existing literature. "
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    ABSTRACT: Bikram yoga is a style of hatha yoga involving a standarized series of asanas performed to an instructional dialogue in a heated environment (40.6°C, 40% humidity). Several studies evaluating the effect of Bikram yoga on health-related outcomes have been published over the past decade. However, to date, there are no comprehensive reviews of this research and there remains a lack of large-scale, robustly-designed randomised controlled trials (RCT) of Bikram yoga training. The purpose of this review is to contextualise and summarise trials that have evaluated the effects of Bikram yoga on health and to provide recommendations for future research. According to published literature, Bikram yoga has been shown to improve lower body strength, lower and upper body range of motion, and balance in healthy adults. Non-RCTs report that Bikram yoga may, in some populations, improve glucose tolerance, bone mineral density, blood lipid profile, arterial stiffness, mindfulness, and perceived stress. There is vast potential for further, improved research into the effects of Bikram yoga, particularly in unhealthy populations, to better understand intervention-related adaptations and their influence on the progression of chronic disease. Future research should adhere to CONSORT guidelines for better design and reporting to improve research quality in this field.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2015 · Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
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    ABSTRACT: The effects of yoga training on health and fitness are unclear despite widespread participation. The primary purpose of this cross-sectional study was to describe the resting heart rate, blood pressure, lung function and aerobic fitness characteristics of long-term Bikram yoga practitioners. A secondary purpose was to examine the relationship between previous Bikram yoga experience and these physiological measures. Thirty-one Bikram yoga practitioners were placed into 2 groups according to years of experience (low = <3 months and high = =1 yr). All subjects completed a battery of tests to measure resting blood pressure and heart rate, pulmonary flow rates and capacities, and aerobic fitness. Unpaired t-tests demonstrated no significant differences between the two groups in any of the measured variables. A significant but weak correlation was detected between Bikram yoga experience and both percentage of predicted forced vital capacity (r = 0.38, P<0.05) and forced expiratory volume in the first second (r = 0.37, P<0.05). These results suggest that this form of yoga training does not provide an adequate stimulus to alter resting hemodynamics, pulmonary function or aerobic fitness.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2012 · Journal of Exercise Physiology Online
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    ABSTRACT: Oxygen consumption varies with physical and mental activity as well as pathological conditions. Although there is a strong relationship between yoga and metabolic parameters, the relationship between yoga and oxygen consumption has not yet been formally reviewed. This systematic review attempted to include all studies of yoga that also measured oxygen consumption or metabolic rate as an outcome. A total of 58 studies were located involving between 1 and 104 subjects (average 21). The studies were generally of poor methodological quality and demonstrated great heterogeneity with different experimental designs, yoga practices, time periods, and small sample sizes. Studies report yoga practices to have profound metabolic effects producing both increase and decrease in oxygen consumption, ranging from 383% increase with cobra pose to 40% decrease with meditation. Compared to nonpractitioners, basal oxygen consumption is reported to be up to 15% less in regular yoga practitioners, and regular yoga practice is reported to have a training effect with oxygen consumption during submaximal exercise decreasing by 36% after 3 months. Yoga breathing practices emphasize breathing patterns and retention ratios as well as unilateral nostril breathing, and these factors appear critical in influencing oxygen consumption. A number of studies report extraordinary volitional control over metabolism in advanced yoga practitioners who appear to be able to survive extended periods in airtight pits and to exceed the limits of normal human endurance. More rigorous research with standardized practices is required to determine the mechanisms of yoga’s metabolic effects and the relevance of yoga practices in different clinical populations.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2013 · Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
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