New research pours cold water on hot yoga benefits

New research shows you don't need to sweat over yoga.

A US study has found hot yoga is no more beneficial than striking a pose at room temperature.

At Hot Yoga Works in Britomart, Auckland, the room is set to a sweltering 40degC, which instructor Lucas Miles claims enhances the yoga experience.

"Just having a fixed sequence that is cathartic, because it's hot and because it's challenging and because it's confronting, is, I think, the thing that I love the most about this."

Hot yoga, also known as Bikram yoga, involves a sequence of 26 poses, with two breathing exercises.

Advocates claim the heat makes the heart beat faster, providing a better cardiovascular workout.

But a Texas State University study has found blood vessel function improved equally among participants, whether the yoga was practised in high heat or at room temperature.

Authors found that it's the poses that are beneficial to vascular health, rather than the heat.

But that's not putting off hot yoga students, who say it helps their flexibility.

"It's probably the first time I've been able to touch my toes in 20 years," one of them told Newshub.  

If you can relax in there, in that heat, you can relax anywhere," says another.

Mr Miles says the heat has other benefits, like injury prevention.

"I can actually move to my depth a little bit quicker when I'm warm, than when I'm cool," he says.

"I think it's just going to make it a little bit safer to stretch. I've just found that if I have a deep sweat, I feel really clean and really clear." 

Rabbit pose, standing bow or full locust, it seems yoga is beneficial, whether you like it hot or not.