Bikram Yoga might be loved by Hollywood celebs and athletes but according to a new report, it doesn't burn any more calories than bog standard, normal-temperature yoga.
The study was conducted to look at the heart rate and core temperature of yogis using the Bikram method, but reports of its findings miss the point, say UK experts Olga Allon, founder of Hot Bikram Yoga and Michele Pernetta from Bikram Yoga London.
"The articles miss the key message from study," Ola explains. "The research was designed to establish whether Bikram raised core body temperature to a unsafe level. And it found that it doesn't."
The report, commissioned by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) does indeed explain that hot yoga doesn't cause body temperature to raise to dangerous levels. But it also suggests that despite popular belief, the extra heat doesn't lead to increased calorie burn, or even better flexibility.
Dr Cedric Bryant, chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise (ACE) said: "The benefits are largely perceptual.
"People think the degree of sweat is the quality of the workout, but that's not reality."
Bikram Yoga is a series of yoga positions performed over 90 minutes in a heated room. The average temperature is 40°C and the humidity at 60 per cent. Its famous fans include tennis star Andy Murray and popstar Lady Gaga amongst others. But why do they rate it more than other forms of yoga?
Olga explains: "Anybody knows if you stretch in a cold church hall it's difficult and it feels much better when it's warm.
"Bikram studios are places where you can get into postures in a more comfortable environment. It becomes a really enjoyable place to come and stretch and people find getting into deeper postures easier.
"I see literally hundreds and hundreds of people coming to the studios and changing their lives. From exercise virgins to athletes, it has a huge impact on how they feel."
Not all about calorie counting
Michele explains, "Weight loss is not about just how many calories you burn in a single session (and actually other research has shown Bikram to be one of the highest burners)
"It's about building long lean muscle, which burns fat even at rest, and creates that sleek, toned silhouette. Bikram builds more long lean muscle than some other systems because it is more strenuous and muscle building.
"Overall it's about health," she adds. "It’s about losing inches. You may gain weight because you have built healthy muscle, and that muscle will burn fat over time.
"It is about creating the best weight for your body type, with good joint alignment. A yoga practise will change the foods you crave, and make you healthier all round. There is too much attention on the scales and not enough on complete health and vitality."
Olga adds that the heat is an added element she loves about Bikram. "It's really great to feel that you're sweating. It forces you to drink a lot of water, which is in itself is a brilliant thing and there's definitely a feel good factor. It has an effect on people after the class, you're sweating, feeling cleansed, feeling good, drinking water - and it makes people think more about diet and nutrition."
"One of the major benefits is creating lean muscle strength," she adds. "You're only using your body as a system of weights and nothing else, so you don't bulk up but you do get stronger."
"We have a lot of athletes who find that pushing themselves in the heat makes them more effective when they come out of it. And it's also helpful for those who've experienced injuries to work towards mending."
She adds, "It's not for everyone but it can be amazing for many. For me, it's the one exercise that has always been constant in my life, whatever else I might be doing."
If you're still not convinced, Michele lists a phenomenal amount of benefits she sees with Bikram:
Muscle tone, increased strength, weight loss, increased stamina, cardiovascular fitness, increased flexibility, more energy, realigns the joints and musculature system, slims the waistline, increases core strength, better sleep, detoxification through sweating, better skin, glands and systems balanced, clearer eyes, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, has been shown to improve diabetes type 2, improves thyroid function, removes stress, corrects bad posture, prevents slipped disc, removes aches and pains, improves eyesight, improves thyroid function, increased calmness, ups your sense of wellbeing, gives you better focus and mental determination, mental relaxation.
"Ultimately 90 minutes of breathing does wonders to centre us again."
We might give it a go!