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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2015, Article ID 428427, 13 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2015/428427
Review Article

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

1School of Science and Health, Western Sydney University, Campbelltown Campus, Campbelltown, NSW 2560, Australia
2The National Institute of Complementary Medicine, Western Sydney University, Campbelltown Campus, Campbelltown, NSW 2560, Australia
3University of Canberra Research Institute for Sport and Exercise, University of Canberra, Bruce, ACT 2617, Australia

Received 30 July 2015; Revised 8 September 2015; Accepted 9 September 2015

Academic Editor: Hirofumi Tanaka

Copyright © 2015 Zoe L. Hewett et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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.