While hot yoga has gained enormous popularity in recent years, owing in part to increased environmental challenge associated with exercise in the heat, it is not clear whether hot yoga is more vigorous than thermo-neutral yoga. Therefore, the aim of this study was to determine objective and subjective measures of exercise intensity during constant intensity yoga in a hot and thermo-neutral environment. Using a randomized, crossover design, 14 participants completed 2 identical ∼20-min yoga sessions in a hot (35.3 ± 0.8 °C; humidity: 20.5% ± 1.4%) and thermo-neutral (22.1 ± 0.2 °C; humidity: 27.8% ± 1.6%) environment. Oxygen consumption and heart rate (HR) were recorded as objective measures (percentage of maximal oxygen consumption and percentage of maximal HR (%HRmax)) and rating of perceived exertion (RPE) was recorded as a subjective measure of exercise intensity. There was no difference in exercise intensity based on percentage of maximal oxygen consumption during hot versus thermo-neutral yoga (30.9% ± 2.3% vs. 30.5% ± 1.8%, p = 0.68). However, exercise intensity was significantly higher during hot versus thermo-neutral yoga based on %HRmax (67.0% ± 2.3% vs. 60.8% ± 1.9%, p = 0.01) and RPE (12 ± 1 vs. 11 ± 1, p = 0.04). According to established exercise intensities, hot yoga was classified as light-intensity exercise based on percentage of maximal oxygen consumption but moderate-intensity exercise based on %HRmax and RPE while thermo-neutral yoga was classified as light-intensity exercise based on percentage of maximal oxygen uptake, %HRmax, and RPE. Despite the added hemodynamic stress and perception that yoga is more strenuous in a hot environment, we observed similar oxygen consumption during hot versus thermo-neutral yoga, classifying both exercise modalities as light-intensity exercise.
Keywords: balancing postures; contrainte thermique; dépense énergétique; energy expenditure; exercice d’intensité légère; low-intensity exercise; perception de l’intensité de l’effort; rate of perceived exertion; thermal stress; équilibre postural.