Yoga Burns Serious Kilojoules If You Do It Fast Enough

Yoga Burns Serious Kilojoules If You Do It Fast Enough

Yoga is great for flexibility, strength and balance, but we’ve never taken it seriously as a form of cardio. According to a new study, though, cycling through poses at a fast pace — we’ll show you how — can give you a workout on par with a light aerobics class.

Photo by jesslef.

[referenced url=”” thumb=”” title=”Does Yoga Have Any Real Fitness Benefits?” excerpt=”Take one look at someone in Scorpion Pose and you’ll know. yoga can build strength and balance. But how does it stack up to traditional strength training — and what can’t yoga do for your body?”]

The study, published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine, asked a group of mostly women to do a workout that included eight minutes of Sun Salutation B, a sequence of poses that you’ll recognise if you’ve ever been to a yoga class. When they spent 12 seconds in each pose, they burned 13.8kJ per minute. But when they did the same sequence at just three seconds per pose, they burned 22.68kJ per minute. That’s on par with the kilojoule burn from fast walking. Maybe yoga can be your cardio after all.

The people in the study were all young, fit, active people who were used to doing yoga, and the researchers confirmed that they knew how to do all the poses with good form. If you’re new to yoga, I wouldn’t recommend blasting through poses without stopping to be sure that you’re doing them right. But if you think you’re up for this workout, here’s how to do it.

First set a timer to beep every three seconds. Here, we’ve set one up for you. Then, go through these poses, one per beep:

  1. Mountain pose with arms down (Tadasana)
  2. Chair (Utkaasana)
  3. Forward fold (Uttanasana)
  4. Halfway lift (Urdhva Mukha Uttanasana)
  5. High plank (Dandasana)
  6. Low plank (Chaturanga Dandasana)
  7. Upward facing dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)
  8. Downward facing dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
  9. Right side warrior 1 pose (Virab-hadrasana I)
  10. High plank (Uttihita Chaturanga Dandasana)
  11. Low plank (Chaturanga Dandasana)
  12. Upward facing dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)
  13. Downward facing dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
  14. Left side warrior 1 pose (Virab-hadrasana I)
  15. Mountain pose with arms down (Tadasana)

The fast flow — vinyasa is the technical term — works because switching between poses takes more full-body effort than holding a pose. (The same research team confirmed this in another recent paper.) You can probably get this kind of workout with other yoga sequences, and I’ve definitely seen yoga classes and videos that go through a sequence very slowly and then speed you up until you’re panting. That’s a great way to get the strength and flexibility benefits, plus the cardio, in the same workout. 

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