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Bikram Yoga Training and Physical Fitness in Healthy Young Adults

Tracy, Brian L.; Hart, Cady E.F.

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: March 2013 - Volume 27 - Issue 3 - p 822–830
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31825c340f
Original Research

Abstract: Tracy, BL and Hart, CEF. Bikram yoga training and physical fitness in healthy young adults. J Strength Cond Res 27(3): 822–830, 2013—There has been relatively little longitudinal controlled investigation of the effects of yoga on general physical fitness, despite the widespread participation in this form of exercise. The purpose of this exploratory study was to examine the effect of short-term Bikram yoga training on general physical fitness. Young healthy adults were randomized to yoga training (N = 10, 29 ± 6 years, 24 sessions in 8 weeks) or a control group (N = 11, 26 ± 7 years). Each yoga training session consisted of 90-minute standardized supervised postures performed in a heated and humidified studio. Isometric deadlift strength, handgrip strength, lower back/hamstring and shoulder flexibility, resting heart rate and blood pressure, maximal oxygen consumption (treadmill), and lean and fat mass (dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry) were measured before and after training. Yoga subjects exhibited increased deadlift strength, substantially increased lower back/hamstring flexibility, increased shoulder flexibility, and modestly decreased body fat compared with control group. There were no changes in handgrip strength, cardiovascular measures, or maximal aerobic fitness. In summary, this short-term yoga training protocol produced beneficial changes in musculoskeletal fitness that were specific to the training stimulus.

Neuromuscular Function Laboratory, Department of Health and Exercise Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado

Address correspondence to Brian L. Tracy, brian.tracy@colostate.edu

© 2013 National Strength and Conditioning Association