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6/25/13 3:26 P

A lot of really interesting feedback on this thread. I have often wondered the same thing :)

SIMONEKP Posts: 2,746
6/25/13 1:03 P

If your yoga practice keeps your heart rate up in the cardio zone then feel free to count it as cardio. I think most people find that it does not.

TINIERTINA Posts: 5,096
6/25/13 11:50 A

Yoga does not count as cardio because:

I learned through taking my blood glucose readings twice-daily, every single day, as a newly-diagnosed Type 2 diabetic, who came in as a fairly severe case - and suddenly, too - with hereditary factors (in particular, the comorbidity of high blood cholesterol treated with statin drugs, for decades).

While I believe "pre-diabetes" is a made-up diagnosis [I, personally, never went through that stage], any pre-diabetic - as well as those would would try to prevent it - who gets very into yoga should also supplement their yoga practice with actual cardio ...

That is, and with NO exceptions, exercise that leads to both rapid AND deep or shallow breathing at the same time. Rapid and deep or shallow breathing, NOT just your heart pounding, not just a raised pulse rate! Using the largest muscles of your body (i.e., the legs) in a rapid repetitive fashion. You could get a raised pulse just sitting and watching a horror movie ...

I somehow manage this DESPITE orthopedic problems and a bad knee ... choosing cardio belly dance, and modified Masala Bhangra workouts - mostly at home as well as in class. Thus I can't do the efficient thing, and shoehorn in a 20-minute run. (Not that I could ever really like running in my youth, before those problems. Never liked it anyhow.)

The style of yoga I practice is a bit far from Ashtanga, That is done mostly at home, as well at this writing. Also pilates. It broke my heart to have to have dialed down the frequency of which to practice yoga and pilates, as my schedule is too packed to do these now lower-priority workouts!

COOKIE352 Posts: 443
6/25/13 8:42 A

Cardio has to be continuous movement.

6/24/13 5:05 P

I find it interesting that yoga, created as a physical expression of a religious practice has somehow morphed into an exercise routine in the Western world. Joseph Pilates did take yoga postures and used them to create a rehabilitation exercise programme however that is an altogether different concept.

If you want an exercise and flexibility programme from that part of the world I suggest you research the bodyweight training routines done by Hindu wrestlers.I guarantee you will have a "religious" experience while doing them.

AVERYSBRO SparkPoints: (1,326)
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6/24/13 4:24 P

What is the best yoga to do i have a jillian and also a gaiam with stings wife like a ten minute trainer. I dont think i need to lose weight so much as tone up. Im trying to incorperate my running and strength but i dont do well exerting in the heat. Help

JUSTDOIT011 Posts: 1,452
6/24/13 4:09 P

By its very definition -- "cardio" means "heart". I know when I do yoga, my heart rate is not up continuously at 65-85% of its max heart rate for the full 30-45 minutes. So I wouldn't classify it as cardio.

6/24/13 3:44 P

I've always thought that people that say "yoga isn't cardio!" have not practiced Ashtanga. While they may be familiar with your gym-variety yoga (i.e., stretching and deep breathing), there's really no point of comparison.

Based on the definition of cardio given above: "any activity that uses large muscle groups, can be maintained continuously, and is rhythmic in nature," I'd say Ashtanga yoga is cardio exercise, or at the very least, can be.
Uses large muscle groups, check.
Can be maintained continuously, check (my practice is generally 90 minutes, and I don't even have Full Primary yet).
Is rhythmic in nature, check! I can't think of anything MORE rhythmic than ashtanga.

The vinyasas between each pose ensure that your heart rate stays up (well, mine does anyway). I think perhaps if you were very fit or very accustomed to practicing Ashtanga, maybe it would not be a cardio exercise. But I'd say for newbies, or even those who have been practicing a year or two, Ashtanga yoga is most definitely cardio.

YOGAGEEK SparkPoints: (6,917)
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6/24/13 4:56 A

Ah, gotcha, M@L.

For me, yoga places more of a load on my leg muscles than running does, but that could be because I can't run for more than a minute or two, so I do a walk/jog thing.

6/23/13 2:16 A

I think that this is one of those annoying little things that consistently trouble the chronically fat. I am now wearing an activity monitor that tracks my movement. Swimming, walking, dancing, some yard work, some house work all pump the numbers up beyond what I get with yoga and strength training. I find myself neglecting the things that don't hit the big numbers. I am missing the flexibility of yoga and the hints of definition that I was seeing before I got the monitor.

MOTIVATED@LAST Posts: 15,443
6/23/13 1:54 A


I wouldn't use the term "intense load", mainly because it is a little ambiguous. (eg. running could be said to place a more intense load on muscles than walking, but it is still definitely cardio).

But I get what you mean. Moderate strength training loads the muscles at much closer to their maximum potential than walking does - and yoga could perhaps be considered moderate strength training.


6/22/13 8:52 P

I've recently started doing short (10-15 minute) yoga workouts on some of my non-ST days, and I love it! My heart rate does get up there, but it feels more like ST to me than cardio, although I know it isn't really the same as ST either. It DEFINITELY helps with my flexibility though! I agree with the above poster about all forms of exercise having specific benefits to your body! I, too, count yoga as just an added bonus. :)

6/22/13 8:48 P

I've recently started doing short (10-15 minute) yoga workouts on some of my non-ST days, and I love it! My heart rate does get up there, but it feels more like ST to me than cardio, although I know it isn't really the same as ST either. It DEFINITELY helps with my flexibility though! I agree with the above poster about all forms of exercise having specific benefits to your body! I, too, count yoga as just an added bonus. :)

BOB240 SparkPoints: (6,131)
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6/22/13 4:10 P

Cardio isnt the be all and end all.

Running will not make you flexible
Strength training is not the best way to increase your running time over 10k
Yoga is not very efficient or strength or cardio vascular performance.

But any sensible training programme will include cardio exercise, strength and stretching,. The disciplines just do different things to your body.

YOGAGEEK SparkPoints: (6,917)
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6/22/13 11:37 A

Thanks for the link, Coach Jen; that was really helpful.

"Other types of yoga, such as faster-paced Ashtanga or "power" styles involve fewer holds/pauses and move practitioners quickly from one pose to the next. While these involve more "rhythmic" and "continuous" movements, it may or may not be enough to elevate your heart rate to an aerobic level—depending on the class itself and your own fitness level."

Based on this, at my fitness level (what one might charitably call "aerobically-challenged"), I do get cardio benefits from my Ashtanga classes, though I wouldn't want to rely on them for my cardio workout, especially as we don't do exclusively flowing sequences for the full class. ETA: I guess I can look at it as a little "cardio bonus" rather than try to replace other cardio with it.

Edited by: YOGAGEEK at: 6/22/2013 (11:45)
SPARK_COACH_JEN Posts: 65,555
6/22/13 11:29 A

Here's a blog you might also find helpful:

Coach Jen

YOGAGEEK SparkPoints: (6,917)
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6/22/13 11:09 A

Thanks for the explanation, M@L. So it's because it's a more intense load on the muscles than something like walking?

MOTIVATED@LAST Posts: 15,443
6/22/13 10:51 A


The essential thing about cardio is that your muscles are working aerobically (ie. burning oxygen), and your heart rate increases to deliver oxygen from the lungs to the muscles faster.

Yoga tends to have the muscles working anaerobically (ie. without oxygen) - basically low intensity strength training. Your heart rate will increase to deliver energy to the muscles, but it is not working with the lungs to deliver oxygen.

This is why yoga doesn't count as true 'cardio'.


PINK4YOUTOO Posts: 508
6/22/13 10:08 A

purpose of yoga is stretching and flexibility, but not cardio; however love the feeling my body has after stretching...great!!

EMPRESSAMQ Posts: 5,077
6/22/13 8:51 A

I think it is a good question. My understanding is that activities such as fast, low poundage for endurance weight lifting (for lack of a better description, think circuit training or Joyce Vedral's old workouts) count as cardio. At least, so trainers I have had have told me. I think forms of mind/body work such as some types of yoga, pilates and callanetics also have aerobic benefit and count for me as cardio. This is just my opinion, not meant to be a statement of fact. Just semantics, I guess.

YOGAGEEK SparkPoints: (6,917)
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6/22/13 8:37 A

OK, my next question would be why cardio has to be rhythmic. On a physiological level, how is that different from non-rhythmic, heart-elevating activities?

That said, I thought things like dance counted as cardio, and it's not rhythmic in the repetitive way running is (though it is in the way flow styles of yoga are). Or is dancing not cardio, either?

I'm not trying to belabour the point here; I just don't get the difference.

Edited by: YOGAGEEK at: 6/22/2013 (08:38)
ZORBS13 SparkPoints: (194,148)
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6/22/13 8:26 A

See my definition. Yoga doesn't fit into the definition of cardio, even though it elevates your heart rate. Plenty of other activities elevate the heart rate but don't count as cardio.

YOGAGEEK SparkPoints: (6,917)
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6/22/13 8:23 A

That's the thing, though; it elevates my heart rate significantly more than walking at 4 mph.

ZORBS13 SparkPoints: (194,148)
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6/22/13 8:19 A

because it doesn't elevate your heart rate continuously to be cardio.

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

Yoga isn't rhythmic in nature.

Edited by: ZORBS13 at: 6/22/2013 (08:21)
YOGAGEEK SparkPoints: (6,917)
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6/22/13 7:25 A

I practice Ashtanga yoga, which (for my body) according to the fitness tracker here burns 277 calories an hour. This is 15 fewer calories than an hour of walking at 4 mph (292 calories) and 49 more than an hour of walking at 3 mph (228 calories). SP frequently touts the benefits of brisk walking as a cardio exercise, yet at the same time claims that even vigorous forms of yoga aren't strenuous enough to qualify as cardio.

Frankly, I'm baffled. For one thing, there are the calorie stats above (as an aside, at over 250 calories, an hour of Ashtanga yoga is enough to lose half a pound a week). For another, because I've been walking briskly since my teens, but have added Ashtanga yoga much more recently, I find the latter MUCH more difficult as my body is less used to it, and as I understand it that affects calorie burn, too.

I know that even the most vigorous forms of yoga aren't on par with, say, running for the same amount of time, but why is it discounted entirely as a cardio exercise?

ETA: I'm not asking this in an "I'm desperate to count everything!" way; I get enough cardio for health benefits from other activities and I track my exercise and food. I'm just confused and curious.

Edited by: YOGAGEEK at: 6/22/2013 (07:32)
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