For generations, the benefits of exercise on our physical health have been observed and proven, but unfortunately, this has meant that mental health has long been left to the wayside.
However, in more recent years, the focus on mental health has helped us to focus not only on our physical health but also on our mental health. One of the most effective exercises that helps us to focus on both sides of our health is yoga!
Yoga is a multidisciplinary practice that helps us to become more in tune with our physical bodies, as well as our internal mental world.
However, when many of us imagine yoga, we tend to picture exercise that involves slow movements that stretch out our muscles. This leads many to question whether yoga can be used as an effective form of cardio.
Is yoga an effective form of cardio? Does it help the body not only to become more flexible but also to help your cardiovascular system? If any number of these questions have crowded your mind lately, then prepare to have them all answered when you dive in down below!
Can Yoga Benefit Your Heart?
For the most part, yes, yoga is incredibly beneficial for the health of your heart, no matter which form of yoga you are observing.
Many forms of yoga cause the heart rate to accelerate, which helps to improve the strength of the heart, while other forms of yoga help you to benefit the heart by slowing it down, allowing your blood pressure to drop, helping you to relax, and decreasing the risk of heart disease.
However, not every form of yoga can be considered to be cardio, because in order for an exercise to be considered as ‘Cardio’, it needs to be an activity that causes the heart rate to rise!
What Forms Of Yoga Count As Cardio?
One of the most well-known forms of yoga that can count as a form of cardio is ‘Vinyasa’. Vinyasa is a specialized form of yoga that involves moving the body quickly between specific poses, in a fluid motion.
This, of course, means that the body is always in motion, moving between poses, and then holding them for short intervals. This will cause the heart rate to rise, as your heart will need to pump blood to your muscles to allow them to move so fluidly.
Other forms of yoga that can provide benefits for cardio are ‘Ashtanga’, and ‘Hot Yoga’. Ashtanga is a form of yoga that is very similar to Vinyasa, but is generally focused more on moving between very specific poses that cannot be deviated from.
The intervals between pose changes are very short, which helps to keep the heart rate elevated, without being so high that the practice becomes tiring.
Hot yoga is a form of yoga that involves moving between poses in spaces of high temperatures often exceeding 104 degrees Fahrenheit! This causes the body to sweat excessively, which has detoxifying benefits, but also causes breathing to be increased slightly, improving blood flow to the heart, which helps it to more easily pump at a higher rate!
Are There Any Yoga Poses That Are Good For Cardio?
If you don’t feel quite ready to take on any high-intensity forms of yoga like vinyasa or hot yoga, then you can easily implement a number of unique yoga poses into a larger cardio workout to help get the benefits of yoga without having to learn an entire unique yoga practice.
Yoga poses can be included as part of a cardio workout by simply interspersing them into the workout. This helps you to improve your cardiovascular health as well as helping you to improve your balance!
Let’s take a look at some yoga poses that can be integrated into your cardio workout!
Mountain Pose To Low Squat
One great exercise involves the simple but effective mountain pose, which helps to align your spine and stretch your entire body. In between holding this pose, you will be encouraged to squat down, which causes you to drop down towards the floor, before then heading back up to hold the mountain pose again.
This quick and intense change in position causes the muscles to be exerted, which leads to an increase in heart rate.
Start by holding the mountain pose, and then take in a long inhale, before slowly dropping down to your knees to squat as you exhale. Once you are in the squat position, hold it, and then take in another inhale, before then moving back towards the mountain position on the inhale.
This exercise helps you to develop your sense of control because you will have to move to the rhythm of your slowed breaths. As well as this, it helps to keep your heart rate firmly raised without ever being too intense!
Upward Facing Dog To Burpees
Burpees are a form of squat thrust that is combined with standing motions in between repetitions, and this has helped to make them a really great exercise for strength training, and for keeping the heart rate raised enough to act as strong cardio.
Burpees can easily be combined with an upward-facing dog in order to add a little bit of extra cardio to the mix and to help improve your overall flexibility. Just make sure to keep in mind that this particular exercise will really get your heart pumping, to a much higher degree than many other exercises.
In order to do this exercise, you will want to start by entering into a standard push-up position, before then moving down to a half-push-up, and flipping the feet, so that the soles of the feet are facing up. From there, pull your chest forward, which will cause your hips to drop and your neck to lift. This is the upward-facing dog.
Once you have taken that position, perform a burpee by quickly climbing up, and then drop back down into the upward-facing dog position.
You can perform as many repetitions of this as you wish, but it will really get your heart going!
To Wrap Up
There you have it! As you can now see, yoga can be a very effective form of cardio exercise especially if you perform versions of yoga that are designed to be high-intensity and to have you in constant motion.
Even if you don’t want to get involved with specific yoga practices, you can still add in some specific poses to your existing workout regime, to help improve your physical health and your flexibility at the same time!
Yoga as a form of cardio can be a great way to improve your heart health while also improving your balance, and allowing you to focus and calm your mind.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yoga can be great for building your strength and improving balance. But if you want your only form of exercise to be yoga, then you will want to include some yoga that increases your heart rate, for cardio.
No. While yoga can be highly beneficial for strength and balance, it is best performed alongside other forms of exercise, such as those performed at a gym.