Can Yoga be Cardio?

From Self Practice and attaining Yoga Classes, after a 90 min Vinyasa flow sometimes with both inversions and Backbends, I can’t help asking Myself, “does this count as Cardio?”

Let’s start by clarifying what Cardio actually is.

When we talk about cardio, we’re talking about Aerobic Exercise—that is, Sustained Activity that Elevates Our heart rate Into a range at which we’re Training Our heart. But Cardio isn’t a term that’s normally is thrown around in a Yoga Class… But maybe it Should be?

Attaining Cardiovascular Fitness Requires Balancing Three Components of Exercise:


To get an Idea of whether Our Yoga Practice Qualifies as a Cardio Workout, We May Ask:

How intense is My Practice?
How long are the periods of Intensity?
And, How frequently do I Practice?

To Wrap it up, Does yoga “count” as Cardio?

The best answer is: It can The American College of Sports Medicine, a leading organization in the field of sports medicine and exercise science, baseline numbers for what it takes to achieve and maintain cardiovascular fitness in healthy adults is to aim for 65 to 90 per cent of your maximum heart rate, stay in that range for at least 20 minutes, with repetition for about three to five days per week.

But we also want to add, the latest research that suggests the overall volume of exercise, and the balance of these three components is more important than hitting a particular threshold of intensity. “There’s more and more evidence that mixing high and low intensities is beneficial,” says Dr Carol Garber, associate professor of movement sciences at Columbia University and co-author of the American College of Sports Medicine’s latest position on the quality and quantity of exercise necessary for fitness. 

In other words, if you’re working at a lower intensity, it Can be Balance with a longer duration and greater frequency. Likewise, if you’re working at a higher intensity, you can do it for shorter periods of time, or less frequently, and still get the benefits.

According to Science:

“Yoga not only gets your heart pumping, but it also quiets the mind and body, honing an ability to experience a greater sense of well-being,”  “And if you find an exercise you enjoy, the more you’ll do it, and the more fit you’ll become.” – Says Dean Ornish, Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and the founder and president of the nonprofit Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, California

Tips for Own Practice with a CardioVascular Benefit:

Weave 20 minutes of Sun Salutations or Feel Free to Use any Flow/Sequence, but it needs to be flowing practices Into your routine, aim for at least 3 days per week. Also, Remind Yourself of that, the definition of cardio exercise is “continuous and rhythmic” so in order to Elevate your heart rate, you need to be moving Continuously at a Pace that Feels somewhere Between Moderate and Hard, BUT Sustainable. 

How to Know if Your Practice already is Cardiovascular? 

Use a Heart rate monitor while Practice to Verify and Clarify exactly what your Heart pace is

Anna. K Park 

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