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Bethany Forseth and Stacy D. Hunter

Background: There is limited research examining the intensity of yoga and intensity variations between different styles. The purpose of this review is to examine the intensity of yoga based on different physiologic responses both between different yoga styles and within styles of yoga. Methods: Articles were searched for on the PubMed database in early 2019. Inclusion criteria were as follows: (1) written in English, (2) cite a specific style of yoga and include whole yoga session, and (3) measure metabolic or heart rate response. Results: Ten articles were reviewed; articles reported oxygen consumption (n = 1), heart rate (n = 4), or both variables (n = 5). Yoga styles assessed included ashtanga (n = 2), Bikram (n = 3), gentle (n = 1), hatha (n = 3), Iyengar (n = 1), power (n = 1), and vinyasa (n = 1). Oxygen consumption commonly categorized yoga as a light-intensity activity, while heart rate responses classified different yoga into multiple intensities. Conclusion: This review demonstrates that large differences in intensity classifications are observed between different styles of yoga. Furthermore, metabolic and heart rate responses can be variable, leading to inconsistent intensity classifications. This is likely due to their nonlinear relationship during yoga. Thus, it is imperative that the field of yoga research works together to create a standard for reporting yoga.

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Stacy D. Hunter, Mandeep S. Dhindsa, Emily Cunningham, Takashi Tarumi, Mohammed Alkatan, Nantinee Nualnim and Hirofumi Tanaka


Obesity is associated with arterial stiffening and diminished quality of life. Bikram yoga may be a feasible alternative to traditional exercise among obese individuals. Accordingly, the purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of Bikram yoga, a heated style of hatha yoga, on arterial stiffness in normal and overweight/obese adults.


Forty-three (23 normal body mass index or BMI; 20 overweight/obese) apparently healthy participants completed an 8-week Bikram yoga intervention. Body composition was estimated via dual energy x-ray absorptiometry, arterial stiffness was measured via brachialankle pulse wave velocity, and health-related quality of life was assessed via RAND 36-Item Short Form survey at baseline and at the end of the 8-week intervention.


After the intervention, brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity decreased (P < .05) in overweight/obese participants while no such changes were observed in normal BMI participants. In the quality of life measures, emotional well-being improved (P < .05) in both groups, and general health improved (P < .05) only in the normal weight BMI group.


Bikram yoga ameliorates arterial stiffness in overweight/obese adults and can positively impact quality of life regardless of BMI.