Can Practicing Hot Yoga Improve Your Cardiovascular Health?

That is the question that motivated a Mount Sinai Medical Center cardiologist to begin a new research study on the ancient discipline.

Carlos Zamora, M.D., director of the Sports Cardiology Program at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, Florida, became curious about the health impact of hot yoga after patients began asking about its safety. Often associated with the style devised by Bikram Choudhury, the term hot yoga is used to describe any number of yoga styles that use heat to increase an individual’s flexibility in the poses. Classes take place in a room heated to temperatures ranging from 95 to 105 degrees.

“There have been studies on conventional yoga that showed benefits in reducing blood pressure and arrhythmias, but there was not a lot of substantial research on hot yoga,” said Dr. Zamora.

Although some small studies indicated that hot yoga appeared to be safe for healthy participants, Dr. Zamora seeks to corroborate those findings with his own research and take it one step further to determine whether hot yoga would actually improve overall vascular function.

“Vascular dysfunction is one of the first signs of cardiovascular problems,” Dr. Zamora said. “Basically, your blood vessels are not as healthy as they once were and subsequently you can have a heart attack, stroke or arrhythmias – all kinds of cardiovascular problems.”

Dr. Zamora is currently recruiting people who are in good vascular health who have never practiced hot yoga before to participate in the study in which participants will undergo two 90-minute sessions of hot yoga per week for six weeks. Hot yoga sessions will be provided, at no cost to participants, at Fred Busch’s Miami Yoga located at 301 S.W. 17th Road.

Participants will have a cardiovascular physical before their first class, midway through the series and again after they complete the six weeks of practice. As part of the evaluation process, Dr. Zamora will conduct an EndoPAT® test to measure participants’ arterial function. The 15-minute, non-invasive test measures how well the participants’ arteries relax and dilate to allow more blood supply where it is needed.

“The goal is to determine whether participants will actually show improved blood flow after 12 sessions of hot yoga,” Dr. Zamora said. “I thought we should study healthy people for a period of time and see how their bodies behave while we are monitoring them closely, before seeing if this type of holistic treatment can be applied to people who are hypertensive and have other vascular issues.”

Dr. Zamora is currently recruiting participants to complete the study. To learn more and to be a part of the study, please call 305.674.2162.

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