The effect of Bikram yoga on arterial stiffness in young and older adults

J Altern Complement Med. 2013 Dec;19(12):930-4. doi: 10.1089/acm.2012.0709. Epub 2013 Jun 5.


Background and objective: Bikram yoga is the most popular form of hot yoga, despite the limited information available on its cardiovascular benefits. This study sought to determine the effect of Bikram yoga on arterial stiffness and insulin resistance in young and older adults.

Methods: Twenty-four young (mean age±standard deviation, 30±1 years) and 18 middle-aged and older (mean age, 53±2 years) adults completed an 8-week Bikram yoga intervention. Bikram yoga classes were performed for 90 minutes per session, three times per week, in a room heated to 40.5°C with 40%--60% relative humidity.

Results: Body mass, body fat percentage, blood pressure, and fasting blood glucose and triglyceride concentrations did not significantly change as a result of the intervention in either the young or the older group. Trunk flexibility, as measured by the sit-and-reach test, increased in both groups (p<0.01). Total (p<0.05) and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (p<0.05) levels, plasma insulin concentrations (p<0.01), and scores on the homeostatic model of the assessment of insulin resistance (p<0.01) decreased in older adults, whereas total and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol concentrations were reduced in young adults (all p<0.05). Carotid artery compliance (p<0.05) was increased and β-stiffness index decreased in young (p<0.05) but not in older adults. Carotid pulse pressure did not significantly change in either group.

Conclusion: A relatively short-term Bikram yoga intervention improved arterial stiffness in young but not older adults and significantly reduced insulin resistance index in older but not young adults.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology
  • Lipoproteins / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Vascular Stiffness / physiology*
  • Yoga*
  • Young Adult


  • Insulin
  • Lipoproteins