Does Yoga Count As A Workout?

As we all know, yoga is an incredibly productive activity and something that is worth doing for a variety of reasons. Yoga is a great way to help with reducing your stress as well as stretch your muscles.

However, something a lot of yoga enthusiasts wonder relatively often is if yoga is something which is strenuous for us to consider to be a physical activity or a workout. 

Does Yoga Count As A Workout?

This is something which can be pretty important if you are trying to do as much exercise as possible to help reach a goal and you want to know how much yoga is helping with this.

For example, for different age groups there is a different amount of time for physical activity which is recommended weekly, so knowing if yoga counts towards this can be important.

This can impact the decision to start doing yoga as well since a lot of people only start yoga because they consider it a form of exercise. 

It is worth considering at this point that there are plenty of different types of yoga which are worth considering when it comes to discussing yoga. For example there is vinyasa, hatha, hot, restorative, and plenty more. 

Each different type of yoga will require a different amount of effort and physical ability to be able to do, and each of these could be classified somewhere differently on the scale of physical exertion.

For example, doing something like restorative yoga does not require much movement at all and would be difficult to describe as a workout, however, something a lot more active and fast paced like vinyasa yoga is a lot easier to see as a workout. 

A lot of what is used to qualify a physical workout is based on your heart rate, and something like vinyasa yoga is a lot more likely to get your heart rate up to something like a workout compared to restorative yoga.

Yoga, as we know, focuses on a combination of physical activity, in balance with mental health and spiritual mindfulness activities. 

So, when considering yoga as a workout, we need to be understanding of what type and branch of yoga we are considering. This is because yoga is a bracket term which encapsulates a lot of different activities, some of which can be classified as exercise, while others can not.

Throughout the rest of this guide we will be covering the different types of exercise which yoga could or could not be classified as. 

For example, whether yoga helps with building muscle, whether it is aerobic, or how many calories it burns. So, if you want to learn about how yoga is impacting your body, then keep reading!

Does Yoga Improve Muscle Strength?

One way people tend to classify exercise is as an activity which is capable of building up muscle strength. 

However, to build up muscle, you do not just have to use machines or free weights, as there is evidence shown that if you practice yoga regularly enough that you are able to build up muscle.

There are poses in yoga which are essentially a form of weight training since you are using the weight of your own body for resistance.

A common example of this is the headstand or the plank. There are also positions or poses where you will be leveraging your body weight to aid in making your muscles stronger.

There was a study done on women who did an hour of ashtanga yoga twice every week over eight months and they were able to lift more weight than women who did not do the exercise. 

There is another study which found that doing yoga can improve both your core strength, and your upper body strength as well. However, the muscles which you are building in a yoga class are different from the ways which you might be building and toning your muscles through doing a more traditional form of strength training.

Yoga will give you more functional strength while the strength you gain in weight training tends to be more isolated. 

Is Yoga Aerobic Exercise?

Does Yoga Count As A Workout?

As we mentioned earlier, what you count as a moderate or vigorous physical exercise will depend on personal opinion, as well as the heart rate you need to get to depending on your age.

Based on the American Heart Association, there is a target heart rate of 50 to 70% for moderate exercise and 70 to 85% for vigorous exercise. 

When compared to other forms of exercise, it can be hard to see yoga as an aerobic exercise. However, this all depends on the type of yoga and how intense you are doing the type of yoga, as this will impact the heart rate which you are reaching. 

For example, if your class focuses more on the restorative properties of yoga rather than the more active side, then this is not an aerobic exercise which will get you moving as much. All types of yoga are worth trying for different reasons, but only some can be considered a type of exercise. 

It is actually pretty easy to tell which types of yoga you can consider an aerobic exercise based on how you feel when you are doing them. Yoga which is an aerobic exercise will get you to be more active, and you will feel your heart rate increase more than one which is not.

Can You Burn Calories Doing Yoga?

If you can burn calories while practicing yoga relies on a variety of factors which are hard to balance, and also considering the type of yoga which you are doing again. 

You will need to think about your height, your age, your BMI, as well as a variety of other personal factors. Similarly to the previous section, the type of yoga which you are doing will have a massive impact on how many calories you are burning.

For example a slow paced restorative yoga session will not burn calories and that is not the goal of this form of yoga. 

There are other similar forms of yoga to restorative yoga which are much more focused on relaxing and will not get you to a point where you are burning calories.

But to counter this, there are also many more intense forms of yoga which will definitely burn calories if you are doing them for long enough, and these are much more effective for this use. 

Whether indirectly, or directly, there is also significant evidence that practicing yoga will aid with weight loss because of the lifestyle changes that are encouraged by practicing yoga.

For example, there is Iyengar yoga which when you are doing it will not feel like you are burning calories, but what you are doing will aid with your body alignment and your posture, and this can aid massively with weight loss if this is a goal of yours. 

Other forms of yoga encourage practices which can lead towards weight loss like being more self-aware, healthier eating, and also just put you in a mutually supportive atmosphere as well!


Hopefully this guide has made clear how much you can benefit from yoga, as well as when it can be counted as a workout, and when it will not be.

Laura Simmons
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