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benefits of bikram hot yoga

Hot Yoga: Benefits & Risks

Doing yoga in a hot room might not seem like a fun activity, but the benefits of hot yoga definitely make it worthwhile (and you’ll probably enjoy it just as much too!). Sure, you’ll be sweating a bit more but this has its own advantages for the body, and you’ll also be building on some of the fundamental principles of yoga as well. 

Hot yoga isn’t just about improving your flexibility and meditating; here at OriGym, we’ve put together this guide on all of the hot yoga benefits and risks so you can figure out if this practice is for you!

We’ll cover the following topics:

  1. What Is Hot Yoga?
  2. Different Types Of Hot Yoga
  3. The Benefits Of Hot Yoga
  4. Hot Yoga Risks
  5. Hot Yoga...Does It Work?
  6. FAQs

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What is Hot Yoga? 

health benefits of hot vinyasa yoga image

Hot yoga is just that - yoga done in a heated environment! 

Typically, it means yoga performed in a studio or room heated to about 35֯ degrees. However, different styles and studios can be warmer or cooler than this. It all depends on your preferences, and the style of hot yoga you are trying! 

Hot yoga can maybe seem a bit intimidating to a beginner, or even someone who has been doing regular yoga for a while, but it’s a fun and easy activity with so many health benefits. Since its arrival into the world of exercise in the 1970s hot yoga has exploded in popularity; a testament to its effectiveness and fun factor.

There’s a plethora of different styles and forms of hot yoga to choose from, all with varying techniques and theories. 

In fact, there are at least 24 different styles of yoga that you can practice!

You can follow one of these established styles to ease you in, but if you’re feeling confident you can make your own routine and get started with any asana (yoga pose) you choose! Just don’t forget to bring a water bottle, as hydration is key when doing hot yoga.

Most yoga studios and many gyms now run hot yoga classes, and doing it as part of a group with a good instructor is a good way to get started. 

Hot yoga can be done alone at home but is usually done in groups, in specially heated rooms or studios. It’s a great social activity! 

The benefits of hot yoga go way beyond making new friends, however. It can increase flexibility, burn calories, reduce stress, and much, much more! But we will go into the specific hot yoga benefits in more depth later - for now, sit back, or adopt a comfortable asana for reading, and learn more about hot yoga! 

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The Different Types of Hot Yoga

Hot Yoga refers to any style of yoga done in a heated environment, but there are specific styles of hot yoga that can be practised. Check out each of the ones we’ve described below as they all offer a standardised set of poses and offer varying guidance, so find the best one for you if you want to start hot yoga. 

Yoga can be daunting at times, especially with its myriad of poses, yoga symbols, and variations. By following one of these styles, you should have a comprehensive, and streamlined introduction to hot yoga! 

Before we answer the question “what are the health benefits of hot yoga?” let’s have a look at some of the most common styles. 

Bikram Yoga

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Bikram Yoga is the original and arguably the most widespread form of hot yoga. 

It began in the 1970s when a yoga instructor in Japan began hosting yoga sessions in a sauna, to replicate the heat of India! 

Bikram yoga is highly structured as there is a set sequence of 26 poses that are performed in the same order, every session. Bikram Yoga includes 24 asanas (or poses) and 2 breathing exercises, and there is no transition movement between the different poses. Bikram Yoga can only be taught by a qualified Bikram Instructor.

You can find out how to become a Bikram yoga instructor from OriGym’s guide!

The studio is heated to exactly 40֯ degrees, ideally with high humidity. The setting of Bikram Yoga is very important: a mirror wall is a necessary feature to allow participants to view and correct their postures.

Bikram yoga is slightly less relaxed than other forms, as its rules and setting are so specific. However, it will provide a really engaging introduction to hot yoga: if you feel like you weren’t experienced before doing Bikram, I’m sure you’ll come out of your first session feeling like an expert!

It’s a great way to learn about hot yoga from experienced, knowledgeable instructors. Bikram yoga is a really established and respected form of hot yoga. 

The benefits of Bikram hot yoga don’t stop with simply educating you about hot yoga, however. This yoga style has many health benefits! The hot Bikram yoga benefits include ridding the body of toxins, increasing flexibility, improving lower body strength, and boosting overall balance.

Plus, the relative intensity of Bikram Yoga means it makes for a surprisingly effective cardiovascular workout. Another one of the specific benefits of Bikram hot yoga is it improves focus due to its highly structured nature!

Moksha Yoga

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Moksha yoga is a slightly more recent form of hot yoga: it was formulated in 2004 by the Canadian yoga instructor, Ted Grand. It is also sometimes known as “Modo” yoga.  

It shares some similarities with Bikram yoga, whilst being distinct and unique. Moksha yoga really emphasises a holistic approach; not only does it have physical health benefits, but also mental health benefits, as well as promoting social aspects like environmentalism and the community. 

As such, Moksha hot yoga sessions are often offered at a discounted rate to promote yoga for everyone! 

Moksha hot yoga is similar to the Bikram form in that there is a set schedule of poses every session, however, unlike Bikram, the schedule is decided by the individual instructor. There are usually around 45 poses every session, usually lasting around 90 minutes. 

Moksha is an adaptable set of yoga positions and this flexibility is reflected in the positions themselves! 

This practice has more of a focus on building strength and flexibility. Every session of moksha yoga begins and ends with the savasana pose, which emphasises relaxation and calm. 

As you can imagine, the benefits of Moksha hot yoga aren’t limited to the physical side of things. Moksha yoga really promotes relaxation and mindfulness as just as important as any other health benefits. 

The physical health benefits are still a massive aspect of moksha yoga, however, as flexibility and strength are really improved through sessions, as well as improving cardiovascular health and even improving bone density!

For some more tips on how to improve your flexibility take a look at our article!

Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga

hot yoga benefits skin

A bit of a mouthful to be sure, but this form of hot yoga is a relaxed, fun way to get involved! 

Named after its founder, Baron Baptiste, this form of hot yoga takes place in a slightly cooler studio than some other forms, with the ideal temperature being 32-35֯ degrees. Don’t worry though, this is still hot enough to get all the health benefits of hot yoga! 

Baron Baptiste drew from other hot yoga pioneers when creating this style, including Bikram yoga. As a Vinyasa form of yoga, there is a real emphasis on smooth, flowing transitions between poses. The Power aspect in its name refers to the intensity of the movements: Power yoga will really improve your athleticism!

Baptise Power Vinyasa Yoga is defined by its five pillars: breath, heat, flow, gaze and core stabilisation. 

Breath refers to the necessity of strong, deep breathing whilst holding the poses, which is something that can take some practice! Heat, of course, is the requirement that the room is heated, and the flow pillar is the practice of flowing movements and transitions. The gaze aspect of the pillars means you must hold a consistent gaze at a certain point or object in the room. The core stabilisation is a bit more complex - it involves continually drawing in your stomach, to provide a strong, stable core for more effective yoga poses!

The Baptise Power Vinyasa Yoga style allows the instructor to choose his own routine and postures, with the guidance of the five pillars. This means it can be adapted for yogis of all abilities.

It’s a really varied and customisable form of hot yoga, which makes it really attractive to a lot of yoga enthusiasts. In fact, check out our comparison of hatha yoga vs vinyasa yoga as these are 2 of the most popular forms of yoga - find out why!

It has even been adopted by the American football team the Philadelphia Eagles, who are no doubt attracted to its ability to make practitioners stronger and more relaxed. Quite the endorsement for the health benefits of hot Vinyasa yoga!

Hot Power Yoga

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The clue is in the name when it comes to this final form of hot yoga we will be looking at! 

It became popular in the 1990s when two yoga instructors wanted to find a way of making yoga more accessible to Western, fitness-orientated sports enthusiasts. As it is more strenuous than other types of hot yoga, the room it takes place in is usually slightly cooler than a standard hot yoga class. Hot power yoga classes can usually be found at gyms and other non-yoga specific sites, making them a really flexible option.

Hot power yoga combines the key aspects of hot yoga and power yoga. You can find out more about the benefits, risks, and history of power yoga here.

Again, as the name suggests, it has some aspects in common with the Baptise Power Vinyasa Yoga style. One of the benefits of this approach is how flexible it is; it really encourages practitioners to build their own sequences, and personalise their sessions to a range of requirements. 

Both beginners and experienced yoga fans can really benefit from hot power yoga!      

The power yoga aspect of hot power yoga is really key, as it refers to a high-intensity, fitness-based yoga session. It can be a lot more frenetic and intense than a more meditation-based yoga style, so be prepared for that! 

Hot power yoga provides a great option for fitness enthusiasts who aren’t focused on the more holistic elements of yoga; more workout, less Zen! 

The health benefits of hot power yoga are quite simple really - its high intensity, cardiovascular exercise approach makes it ideal for people trying to lose weight, as well as providing the other pluses of hot yoga in general. Intense exercise plus a hot environment equals burned calories! 

However, it should be noted that hot power yoga should be approached with caution, especially for those with heart issues, and hydration is immensely important so make sure you take a water bottle with you.

What are The Benefits of Hot Yoga?

So you’re up to speed with some of the different types of hot yoga, and hopefully, you’ve seen one that looks like it could be for you! 

There are so many health benefits to hot yoga; we’re going to break them down, as well as explain some of the risks involved. 

Let’s jump into our 9 benefits of hot yoga!

#1 Increases Flexibility

hot yoga benefits weight loss

This is probably one of the more obvious hot yoga benefits, as ultimately this is still a form of yoga and yoga is renowned for its flexibility boosting effects.

If you’re a beginner that finds the majority of yoga poses difficult to get into then switching to hot yoga could be more beneficial to you as hot yoga can improve flexibility even more so than ordinary yoga.

A study comparing the effects of hot yoga and thermoneutral yoga found that the participants’ flexibility increased by an extra 10% during the hot yoga session compared to standard yoga. The heat helps to loosen up the muscles and joints, allowing for increased flexibility and range of motion when performing yoga, as well as in daily life.

This can also help reduce aches and pains!  

Whilst you might be put off a little by the added heat in a yoga studio, the benefits of sweating in hot yoga and improved flexibility can soon make it worthwhile.

If flexibility is your main concern then take a look at our guide on flexibility training.

#2 Boosts Men’s Health

benefits of bikram hot yoga

Men’s health has been in the spotlight recently, with issues like stress, mental health, and high blood pressure leading to complications being highlighted as particularly prevalent in men. Whilst these problems are by no means exclusive to men, the proportion of which they affect males is a huge concern. 

Fortunately, some of the benefits of hot yoga for men can really help to reduce the impact of these issues!

Hot yoga has been proven to reduce stress through its mindfulness techniques, namely yoga breathing. This is where the practitioner focuses on controlled and deep breathing: this is beneficial to the body as it encourages calmness and can lower the heart rate. Being more aware of your breathing can help alleviate anxieties, bringing you more in tune with your body and grounded with the earth.

Mindfulness and deep breathing can also help to manage mental health issues like anxiety.  

So instead of constantly going for a high-intensity, fast-paced exercise program you should try incorporating some hot yoga poses into your workouts to still build strength and stamina but with a little more focus on the mind.

If you need some more convincing then take a look at some of OriGym’s pros and cons of yoga.

#3 Regulate Blood Sugar

what are the health benefits of hot yoga

Yes, that’s right; hot yoga can even help keep your blood sugar at healthy levels. 

This is due to two main reasons: the stress-relieving side of yoga and then the fact that yoga is also a form of exercise.

Hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar levels, is a dangerous occurrence seen most commonly in people with diabetes. High blood sugars can have detrimental effects on a person’s long term health if left untreated, such as damage to the kidneys and eyes, and even short term problems such as severe dehydration and diabetic ketoacidosis. 

One key cause of hyperglycemia is stress. It is imperative for diabetics, both type 1 and type 2, to try and reduce stress as much as possible and practise stress-reducing techniques. This is where yoga, and the hot yoga benefits, come in!

The meditative and mindfulness that hot yoga promotes are effective ways of relieving stress in diabetics. Plus, the movements and poses involved with yoga are a gentle form of exercise that can help lower high glucose levels and improve circulation in a low impact manner.

Interestingly, a study in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies suggests that hot yoga is particularly effective in lowering glucose levels in the bloodstream of older participants. 

It is important to note, however, that due to the added heat element of hot yoga diabetics should take precautions when participating as both exercise and heat have the potential to lower blood sugar levels. Take extra care as blood glucose could fall too low.

Did you know that drinking both coconut water and green tea can also help regulate blood sugar levels?

Read up on some other facts about yoga in some of OriGym’s other valuable guides:

#4 Burn More Calories

benefits of hot yoga for men

The benefits of hot yoga for weight loss are an attractive aspect for many participants; any cardiovascular exercise will burn calories and increase weight loss, and hot yoga is no exception to that. 

This is due to the added heat as well as the movements involved in hot yoga. In particular, fast-moving vinyasa-based hot yoga routines are particularly good for losing weight as these require more intensity and pace in movements, increasing cardiovascular activity. 

The heat aspect of hot yoga also helps as this further raises the heart rate and increases the amount of sweating during the exercise, all of which increase calorie burning. 

This has been discussed in a study in the International Journal of Yoga Therapy which states that:

“Hot yoga classes do advertise the number of calories burned in the class due to the elevated temperature, which increases the level of effort by individuals”(Mace and Eggleston, 2016).

This need for additional effort is what ultimately will help you burn more calories!

So if yoga is your go-to workout but you want to lose a little extra weight then the hot yoga benefits for weight loss could help you reach your fitness goals more effectively.

If you want to get fit but aren’t sure where to start then use OriGym’s free home workout generator - you’ll get a home workout plan that’s completely tailored to your needs!

#5 Aid the Respiratory System

benefits of hot yoga for weight loss

This one should come as no surprise; with the focus on breathing techniques and depth, hot yoga can provide a range of benefits for the respiratory system. 

Pranayama is an aspect of hot yoga and is a form of breathing techniques and exercises that can improve and increase lung capacity. Deeper breathing will force the lungs to expand more than usual, increasing their elasticity. Over time this will mean you’re breathing will be stronger!

We mentioned above that practising hot yoga requires more effort which increases the heart rate, and this cardiovascular exercise will also help boost your respiratory system through the transportation of essential nutrients. 

Improved breathing also allows more oxygen to enter the bloodstream and reach your organs, which will result in overall better general health.

For more information on pranayama and its benefits read through OriGym’s latest article! 

Don't forget to download your own yoga workout sequence!

#6 Improve Your Skin

hot bikram yoga benefits

The benefits of sweating in hot yoga might not be immediately obvious: sweat is often just dismissed as an unpleasant by-product of exercise, but it actually has some real health benefits and sweat is a guarantee in hot yoga! 

Sweating plays an essential role in keeping the human body healthy. As we sweat toxins are flushed out from the body, removing potentially harmful substances and bacteria. This benefits us as this is how the body cleans out pores which can help keep your skin blemish-free! 

This flushing out can be really helpful to those with oily skin or who are prone to acne.  

Taking collagen supplements can also help improve the condition and elasticity of your skin!

The deep breathing aspect of hot yoga benefits the skin as well. As more oxygen is taken into the bloodstream via these deep breaths the nutrients and oxygen are brought to the skin cells, 

#7 Aids the Lymphatic System 

hot yoga benefits and risks

The lymphatic system is the less well-known cousin of the immune system, but it is just as vital in keeping our bodies healthy and free of disease. 

This biological system is a complex network of tissues and organs that forms part of the circulatory and immune systems, with the primary function of transporting lymph around the body. Lymph is a vital liquid that contains white blood cells, needed to fight infections.

There are a few ways to keep your lymphatic system in top condition with exercise being one of the more effective. The main lymph vessels are situated in the arms, legs, and torso, so practising yoga can help move lymph around the body. 

Additionally, as we mentioned earlier, hot yoga can help flush out toxins via sweat which is essentially providing an extra boost to the lymphatic system. This is because another one of the lymphatic system’s functions is to act as a filter for the body, removing harmful substances from the bloodstream. 

Therefore, when we sweat and flush out toxins, we’re helping out the lymphatic system! Hot yoga really works up a sweat, so this will really aid in flushing out toxins and other harmful things. 

A strong lymphatic system will help the body fight off disease and infections. 

#8 Boosts Concentration

health benefits of hot vinyasa yoga

There’s not a lot of substantial research to support this but consensus and anecdotal evidence seem to support the idea that hot yoga can improve concentration. 

Certainly, Baptiste Power Vinyasa yoga with its emphasis on the “gaze” would aid concentration, as you are focusing on a specific point for a long period of time and essentially training your brain to remain focused for the entirety of this period.

This interview with Olga Allon, the owner of a Bikram hot yoga studio in London, supports the theory that hot yoga, and particularly when discussing the benefits of Bikram hot yoga, aids concentration as she states that: 

“Each posture in the series requires concentration, patience, determination and self-control.” 

Whilst this may not be one of the proven hot yoga benefits it is still worthwhile participating in as you may find that your concentration is improved!

If you want more ideas on how to help your immune system then check out some of the best immunity boosting foods.

#9 Strengthens Bones

benefits of moksha hot yoga

That’s right, hot yoga can help increase bone strength and increase density! This is one of the most important health benefits of hot yoga for older practitioners, as once we hit thirty, our bone density begins to reduce year on year. 

But how does it work? 

It’s quite simple: it’s been proven that yoga puts more weight and tension on the bones, as yoga postures force the skeleton to support the body’s weight in unfamiliar positions and distributions. It does this without putting extra stress on cartilage or joints. As the bone is forced to take more weight, the theory is it becomes strong. 

A study in Harvard Women's Health Watch investigated the effects of a 12-minute daily yoga routine on 741 people over the course of 2 years. Among the results of this research were some already well-known effects such as improved balance and coordination, but also showed significant increases in the bone density of the spine and some improvements in the density of the hip bones. 

Hot yoga provides a good way to reduce the risk of osteoporosis, a disease that reduces bone density and really limits mobility, as well as improving balance which can reduce the risk of falls and fractures as well.

Calisthenics training is another great form of exercise to increase bone strength. 

Hot Yoga Risks

what are the benefits of hot yoga

Now that we've gone through the benefits to hot yoga, we also need to explain a few of the risks that are involved with this practice.

Firstly, due to the increased temperature of the room, there is a risk of overheating. When you first start hot yoga you need to pay extra attention to your body and learn to recognise when you’re overheating. If you suddenly feel dizzy or like you’re about to faint then notify someone right away and take a break. 

Other symptoms of overheating include confusion, flushed or dry skin, strong pulse or unusually slow pulse, and increased sweating. Obviously, it can be hard to distinguish between these symptoms and the usual effects of exercise so it is important to be aware of your limits and look after your body.

Heat exhaustion and overheating is uncommon but is still a risk in any hot climate, so be vigilant! 

Similarly, dehydration is another risk with exercise and hot yoga. Again, symptoms will include dizziness, feeling thirsty and tired, having a dry mouth, lips, and dry eyes. Have regular water breaks during your hot yoga practice - this is where a larger water bottle will come in handy to make sure you’re staying hydrated.

If you find the heat in the yoga studio too much then leave the room and rest. It is important to pay attention to your body and how it is reacting to hot yoga to reduce the risks of heat exhaustion and heatstroke. It can take a while to become accustomed to this practice so don’t feel embarrassed or self-conscious if you need to remove yourself from the session.

It is recommended that women who are pregnant do not participate in hot yoga as excessive heat can cause damage to the fetus. Additionally, those who suffer from heart conditions or diabetes should discuss with the doctor before engaging in hot yoga.

Hot Yoga…Does it work?

hot yoga benefits skin

That really depends on what you’re asking, but, in the vast majority of cases, the answer is a resounding yes! 

However, the key is finding the form or style of hot yoga that works for you, makes you feel comfortable, and helps you achieve your goals! There are many different styles, with varying benefits, so there’s almost certainly going to be one for you! 

Many people turn to hot yoga as an engaging and fun way to lose weight, and a form of hot power yoga would certainly be effective for burning calories. 

By contrast, some people start hot yoga for mental health benefits and Moksha certainly provides this; it is strongly focused on the spiritual side of things and is a great way to relax whilst helping your community. 

One thing that all forms of hot yoga have however are the social benefits. Hot yoga is a fantastic way to meet new people, and experience new cultures. Find a class and have a go today to reap some of these fantastic hot yoga benefits!

FAQs

What To Wear To Hot Yoga

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This is a common yet hugely important question; you want to feel the hot yoga benefits with as much comfort as possible. 

While hot yoga has the added difference of increased temperature, the fundamental principles and movements are similar to that of standard yoga so your workout clothes don’t need to be too different.

Yoga leggings or shorts with a loose top or sports bra are good choices for your practice as these won’t hinder your movement or range of motion. 

It is recommended that you ensure your clothes have moisture and sweat-wicking properties as the benefits of sweating in hot yoga can, unfortunately, lead to skin problems if left untreated. By wearing specialist workout gear you can help reduce the risk of this.

How Many Calories Does Hot Yoga Burn?

hot yoga benefits

Unfortunately, this question can be difficult to answer concisely due to the range of variables involved. The type of hot yoga, the temperature of the studio, the duration of the class, the intensity of the session, and even the individual practitioner all have an effect on the number of calories burned during a hot yoga session.

That being said, in a Bikram hot yoga session, which is typically 90 minutes long, a person can burn from 330 calories to around 460 calories on average. 

How Hot Is Hot Yoga?

As we mentioned at the beginning of our article, hot yoga is practised in a studio that is heated. The temperature of the studio for hot yoga is typically 40 degrees. 

In comparison, the normal room temperature (which you’d expect a normal yoga studio to be at) is around 20 to 25 degrees.

What Do You Need For Hot Yoga?

benefits of hot yoga

This again is very similar to what you would expect to take with you to a non-hot yoga practice. However, there are some items that are probably more important in hot yoga practice. 

There are a few items that are essential:

These are the basics that you’ll definitely need during a hot yoga session, and a larger water bottle is recommended as the increased temperature will mean more risk of dehydration. 

If you’re a yoga beginner then it can be beneficial to take some yoga props along with you, such as yoga blocks or a yoga cushion, as these help you bend and twist into poses with less difficulty.

Conclusion

Yoga is a centuries-old practice with proven effects on the human body and combined with a little extra heat a whole new variety of hot yoga benefits are available. 

From boosting the condition of our skin to strengthening joints and bones, hot yoga is definitely worth giving a go! Just be sure to take a water bottle with you and stay as hydrated as possible.

Physical fitness is an important part of human life with the potential to stave off harmful illnesses and even prolong life. If you want to be an integral part of this industry then sign up with OriGym today and become a personal trainer. Our personal training courses are REPS and CIMSPA accredited, and we offer a fantastic range of CPDs to further your career as well. 

Download our FREE course prospectus before you go!

References:

  1. Campbell, H. K. (2015). The Comparative Effects of Hot Yoga and Thermoneutral Yoga on Flexibility, Heart Rate, Sweat Rate, and Mood. Theses and Dissertations
  2. Mace, C. and Eggleston, B. (2016). Self-Reported Benefits and Adverse Outcomes of Hot Yoga Participation. International Journal of Yoga Therapy, 26(1), pp.49–53.
  3. Publishing, H.H. (2016). Yoga: Another Way to Prevent Osteoporosis? [online] Harvard Health. Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/womens-health/yoga-another-way-to-prevent-osteoporosis.
  4. S D Hunter, M Dhindsa, E Cunningham, T Tarumi, M Alkatan, H Tanaka, 2013, Improvements in glucose tolerance with Bikram yoga in older obese adults: A pilot study. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies 17 (4)

Written by Dee Hammond-Blackburn

Fitness Content Executive, OriGym

Join Dee on Facebook at the OriGym Facebook Group

Dee holds a BA (Hons) in English Literature, and is currently finishing her MA in Marketing Communications and Branding from Edge Hill University. Her passion for fitness and content writing brought her to OriGym, and she has since become a qualified Personal Trainer and a Sports Nutrition Specialist. Combining her skills in fitness and writing, Dee has a professional interest in fitness blogging, content creation, and social media. Outside of her writing role Dee enjoys reading, healthy cooking, and playing football with her dalmation.

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