Yoga MatCan Yoga Provide a Cardio Workout by Sue Fuller

When we think about a cardio workout activities like running, swimming and cycling spring to mind, can yoga also provide this type of workout?

Yoga is so versatile; by performing a series of strong yoga postures that flow continuously for twenty or more minutes you are able to enjoy all of the benefits of a yoga class and experience a cardio workout at the same time. 

Yoga is a full-body exercise, it improves flexibility, balance, co-ordination and strengthens and tones the whole body.

Yoga combines a sound breathing technique with physical postures and meditation, to help practitioners achieve physical and emotional well-being.

The cardiovascular benefits that yoga can deliver will vary immensely depending upon the style of yoga you are practicing, the combination of postures included in the class, the objective of the class, the length of the class and the style of the teacher.

By performing postures that incorporate all of the major muscle groups of the body in the Vinyasa style of yoga (a flowing yoga class) can provide a cardio workout, similar to a low impact dance class.  However this will vary greatly depending upon the postures included and the speed that the flow is performed at.

Using the large muscle groups of the body will help elevate the heart rate, therefore selecting postures that activate the thighs and buttocks will raise the intensity of the flow. For example stepping from a downward facing dog to a Warrior 1 then moving to a plank will have the required effect, so select postures that involve big transitions and require the hamstrings, quadriceps and gluts to work.

If each posture is held the heart rate will probably not raise sufficiently to provide the required effect.  However if the body is moved continuously from one posture to the next following a smooth steady flow of breath for twenty or more minutes yoga could provide a cardio workout.

The intensity may not be as high as going for a jog or spending the same time on a treadmill, but with a good selection of postures you will also increase your range of movement, strengthen and lengthen all of the major muscle groups in the body, clear and focus the mind and finish your workout feeling vibrant.

TreadmillThe Definition of Cardio

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) defines aerobic (cardio) exercise as "any activity that uses large muscle groups, can be maintained continuously, and is rhythmic in nature."

It is also defined as exercise that increases the need for oxygen and raises the heart rate to at least 60-70% of one's max heart rate. 

A cardio workout will strengthen the heart and lungs and burn more calories.  This makes a cardio workout the perfect activity for weight loss.

Although yoga will not replace a run or a treadmill session, if you select the right class it can provide a cardio workout.

Cardio Yoga Volume 1 by Sue FullerSue Fuller has created an extensive range of high quality audio yoga classes suitable for all levels of yoga experience including Cardio Yoga Vol 1 and Cardio Yoga Vol 2.  Classes are available from