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Hot Yoga May Reduce BP, Improve Mental Health

Hot yoga may be a safe and effective way to lower ambulatory blood pressure (BP) among those with elevated or stage I hypertension, according to new research presented at the American Heart Association’s Hypertension 2019 Scientific Sessions.1
“The findings are very preliminary at this point, yet they’re somewhat promising in terms of unveiling another unique way to lower blood pressure in adults without the use of medications,” study author Stacy Hunter, PhD, from Texas State University, said in a press release.2
Hunter and her colleagues studied data on 10 participants aged 20 to 65 years to determine the effect of hot yoga on ambulatory BP, augmentation index, and perceived stress in sedentary individuals with elevated BP or stage I hypertension who were not taking BP medication.
Elevated BP was defined as having systolic BP between 120 mm Hg to 129 mm Hg and diastolic BP less than 80 mm Hg. Stage I hypertension was defined as having a systolic BP between 130 to 139 mm Hg or a diastolic BP between 80 to 89 mm Hg. Being sedentary was defined as having not engaged in a regular physical fitness routine for at least 6 months before the study. 
The researchers monitored the participants’ ambulatory BP for 24 hours before the participants were randomly assigned to either the hot yoga group or control group. 
The 5 participants in the hot yoga group completed three 60-minute Bikram yoga classes, which were held in a room kept at 40.5°C, while the 5 participants in the control group did not change their physical activity for 12 weeks. 
The researchers determined that the participants in the hot yoga group experienced a decrease in their 24-hour systolic BP measurements (126±17 to 121±14 mm Hg) and their diastolic BP measurements (82±12 to 79±12 mm Hg). These participants also had a decrease in perceived stress, which was measured via the Perceived Stress Scale.
When comparing waking vs sleeping BPs, according to the participants’ reported sleep times, only waking systolic and diastolic BPs decreased. There were no changes in sleeping BPs in the yoga group. 
The participants’ augmentation index and body mass were unaltered following the yoga intervention, and no outcome variable changed in the control group. 
“Preliminary results support the safety and efficacy of hot yoga in improving ambulatory BP and reducing mental stress, a correlate of [hypertension], in adults with elevated BP and stage I [hypertension],” the researchers concluded. “These BP reductions were observed in the absence of BP medications or weight loss, and do not appear to be associated with improvements in pulse wave analysis.”1

Hunter S, Tobi Fadeyi A, Shadiow J. Abstract P196: hot yoga and hypertension: exploration of a novel lifestyle intervention [published online September 4, 2019]. Hypertension. https://doi.org/10.1161/hyp.74.suppl_1.P196. 
Temps up, blood pressures down in hot yoga study [press release]. New Orleans, LA: American Heart Association; September 5, 2019. https://newsroom.heart.org/news/temps-up-blood-pressures-down-in-hot-yoga-study. Accessed September 9, 2019.