The Effects of Bikram Yoga on Health: Critical Review and Clinical Trial Recommendations

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:428427. doi: 10.1155/2015/428427. Epub 2015 Oct 5.

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.

Publication types

  • Review