What is Cardio Yoga?
How to use yoga to increase your heart rate
For most of us, cardio is not an attractive form of exercise, but yoga can be! It’s an easy and fun way to get your heart rate up, and you’ll pass the time quickly whilst doing something hugely beneficial for your health.
Though yoga is technically not considered to be an aerobic exercise, there are faster-paced styles of yoga that are sure to increase your heart rate – it’s all about finding the right style of yoga for you.
Yoga can be a great workout even if you consider yourself to be relatively fit. It requires you to move your body in ways that you’re probably not used to – spend 90 minutes on the mat and you might get a cardio workout that you weren’t expecting.
Though it doesn’t always feel very pleasant, increasing your heart rate has a whole heap of benefits! Here are some of the best.
Maybe you’ve got your heart set on a yoga practice and are simply trying to find out how to use it to improve the health of your heart. Or maybe you’ve stumbled across this article and are unsure as to why you should choose yoga over a more traditional form of cardio exercises – such as running, cycling or swimming.
Though you may not increase your heart rate in the same way that a sprint would, a yoga class with little rest will get your heart rate up towards what is considered a cardio exercise. It can be a great way to switch up your exercise routine, maybe swap your Saturday morning run with a yoga class to keep things interesting for yourself. Incorporating yoga into your already existing fitness routine can help you to advance in the sport that you already practice.
If you’re already working out and want to use yoga to add elements to your routine, consider simply adding poses to your HIIT workouts. You could stretch out the hamstrings whilst working on core and arm strength by adding downward dog into your burpees. Maybe you could do 10 rounds of sun salutations for a great warm-up and effective way to prepare your body before your next fitness class.
If the mere thought of the treadmill leaves you wanting to curl up in a ball and scream, it’s probably not the cardio workout for you. Yoga is known for its stress-relieving properties – spend an hour increasing your heart rate by doing something that you both love and look forward to, and your body and mind will thank you. And who knows, maybe after a few weeks of regular vinyasa classes, the treadmill won’t look quite so scary.
Yoga classes that strengthen large muscles such as the quads and hamstrings will require your heart to work faster to deliver them all of the oxygen that they need.
If you’re interested in yoga’s ability to increase your heart rate, use a wearable pulse tracker throughout your next class and see just how much of a workout you get! The great thing about doing this is you’ll see just how quickly you can improve by attending classes regularly and becoming stronger.
These are the three components necessary for reaching cardiovascular fitness. Most yoga classes last for 60-90 minutes, and depending on the style can be quite intense. The more you practice, the easier it becomes – even though it might not feel that way after your first vinyasa class! Once your class starts to become easier, consider adding another element of cardio to your fitness routine, or trying out a different style of fast-paced yoga.
It’s up to you how you use yoga to increase your heart rate! Read on for the best styles of yoga for a cardio workout.
You’ll need to consider the style of yoga that you are practicing to know whether it can qualify as a cardio workout. If you’re spending more time in floor-based classes such as restorative yoga or yin yoga, you won’t be increasing your heart rate by very much. A faster-paced class will get you on your feet, flowing through poses, and breaking a sweat in no time!
Ashtanga yoga classes teach a set of movements in a specific order, often repeated many times for a very physically demanding class.
Vinyasa is fast-paced and incorporates positions that will vary from class to class. Some vinyasa classes might pick a focus – such as core strength or upper body strength. During a vinyasa class, the breath is synchronized with movement and is a quick way to increase the heart rate.
Power yoga focuses on the positions and the body more than it focuses on the breath. A power yoga class will definitely feel like a workout. Positions are moved through in a physically challenging way, with many of the poses being held for longer periods to increase strength.
Though the best way to practice yoga is under the supervision of a licensed instructor, there is also a whole world of online classes to choose from. Online classes can help you to get familiar with the poses before heading to a group class, and you’ll also be able to see which style of yoga suits you best.
It can be challenging to move through fast-paced yoga classes as a beginner, start with Hatha (which is a little slower and great for beginners) so that you learn the poses and can more easily follow a vinyasa class. You may even find Hatha to be enough of a cardio workout!
Here are some of the best yoga poses to increase your heart rate.
Laying on the floor, bring your hands underneath your shoulders and push into them to lift your whole body. Engage through the legs and keep pushing the heels towards the back of the mat, as you hold your core tight. Challenge yourself to see how long you can stay here.
Start in a standing position, then deeply bend the knees as though sitting on a chair, bring the hands to a prayer position at the heart and stay for a few breaths. Try to get a little deeper with every exhale, and maybe move between standing and chair pose to start getting your heart rate up.
Starting from plank position, step the right foot forward so that it rests on the mat between your hands. Then lift from the torso to bring your body upright. You could switch between plank pose and lunges (alternating sides) for a great workout.
Sitting with the soles of your feet on the floor, start to gently lean your torso back as you lift your feet away from the mat. Keep a bend in the knees, and the shins should be parallel to the floor. Once you’re here, bring your arms alongside your shins and engage the core.
Though technically a ‘resting pose’, it certainly doesn’t feel that way when you first start practicing yoga. From plank pose, lift from the core to push the hips up towards the ceiling, as you reach the heels towards the ground. You’ll increase your heart rate and get a great hamstring stretch. Alternate between plank pose and downward facing dog to add more of a cardio element to the movement.
Ujjayi breath is achieved by making a slight constriction in the back of the throat as you inhale and exhale through the nose. Once you’re familiar with your regular vinyasa class, this can be a great way to add a little more difficulty to your practice.
A few rounds of sun salutations is probably the easiest way to get your heart rate up in no time. To practice sun salutations, you flow between a set of predetermined positions, moving each time you inhale and exhale. Use a video to learn sun salutations until you’re able to do them on your own. The best part is that you can repeat them as many times as you like to increase your heart rate – they’re a great way to wake up the body and stretch out the knots in the morning!
Give yoga a try and you’ll gain much more than a cardio workout!