Bikram yoga consists of 26 poses, and it's performed in a room that's heated to around 40 ºC (104 ºF). While it has a number of claimed health benefits, a new study suggests that when it comes to vascular health, it might just as well be done at room temperature.

Conducted by scientists from Texas State University and the University of Texas at Austin, the study included 52 middle-aged test subjects who were split into three groups. One group performed Bikram yoga in a hot room (three 90-minute sessions a week, for 12 weeks), another group performed it at room temperature for the same amount of time, while a control group didn't do any yoga at all.

The scientists found that with members of both of the first two groups, there was a reduction in changes in the lining of the blood vessels, which are involved in the development and progression of heart disease. Additionally, there was evidence that the yoga may delay the progression of atherosclerosis, in which plaque builds up inside the arteries.

That said, it should be reiterated that the study was concerned primarily with vascular health. Proponents of Bikram yoga claim that the heat also increases flexibility, burns more calories, and helps to flush out toxins via sweating.

A paper on the research was recently published in the journal Experimental Physiology.