Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name




First Advisor

Milne, Kevin (Kinesiology)






Yoga has become a popular alternative to traditional exercise regimes and many therapies to enhance physical and psychological well-being. Many yoga studios and health clubs now offer hot yoga in addition to regular yoga where the room temperature is elevated before the yoga practice begins. There are many anecdotal benefits to practicing hot yoga but any physiological adaptations have yet to be documented in the scientific literature. Novice and beginner yoga practitioners, 10 males and 21 females, aged 19-33 years were randomized to either an 8 week trial of Hatha yoga performed under normal temperatures (n=15) or hot yoga (n=16). For the normal temperature yoga and hot yoga, 3 and 4 participants, respectively, were lost to drop out. All participants attended 80 minute yoga classes at a local studio 3 times per week and several physiological and psychological outcomes were evaluated at baseline, at 4 weeks, and at the end of trial, including: body mass index (BMI), body composition (BF%), systolic and diastolic blood pressure (SBP, DBP), flexibility, peak oxygen consumption, Beck Depression Inventory, and State Trait Anxiety Inventory. Participants' heart rates and temperatures were monitored during weekly yoga classes to assess cardiovascular intensity of yoga as exercise. Hot yoga participants worked at a significantly higher cardiovascular intensity (61.0▒2.0 versus 48.2▒1.8 percent of their maximum recorded HR respectively, p<0.05). Further, participants in the hot yoga group spent more time at greater than 60%, 70% and 80% of their maximum heart rate throughout the exercise period (p<0.05). For all training groups, improvements were seen in body composition and flexibility, but there were no differences between groups. Further, mean SBP decreased by 5.8 ▒12.5 mmHg after 4 weeks of yoga training and remained reduced at the end of 8 weeks (p<0.05). There was a significant improvement in trait anxiety levels and depression scores. These observations suggest that there are no additional psychological or physiological benefits gained by hot yoga training, but more importantly, there are several health benefits of engaging in regular yoga practice.