This Is How You Make Your Yoga Practice a Cardio Workout

Turn up the burn with this hack that'll leave you burning many more calories.

February 10, 2017
yoga cobra
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This article was originally written by Rachel Lapidos for Well+Good

Obviously yoga has all sorts of benefits—just ask Lena Dunham. But its one drawback (if you can even call it that) is that while you certainly leave a vinyasa class feeling rejuvenated, you sometimes feel like you need to go on a run for a cardio boost. Sound familiar?

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Thankfully, new research in Complementary Therapies in Medicine indicate that yoga can meet the American Heart Association's cardio guidelines (which recommends 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise weekly)—if you do it rapidly.

More: 5 Essential Yoga Poses You Should Do Every Morning

To study this, researchers at the University of Miami put sensors on 22 healthy adult men and women as they completed as many sun salutations in eight minutes as they could. There were two speeds: Participants would hold poses for three seconds each, or 12 seconds each.

Those who flowed faster burned an average of 48 more calories during the session, compared to those who were on a 12-seconds-per-pose pace. The most surprising part? Most of the exertion occurred between the poses rather than in the poses themselves, proving your struggle between chaturanga and cobra is real (just me?).

More: 5 Yoga Poses to Cure Your Hangover

Joseph Signorile, PhD, senior author of the study, tells The New York Times that sun salutations at the faster pace are like interval training—explaining that the flow between poses can be thought of like little sprints, while the actual poses are like recovery.

 

Though this was a small study and the structure was not like your typical yoga class, it shows that fast-paced flow can be just as good for your heart as your average HIIT workout. Namaste to that.

Yoga's also good for improving your, ahem, intimate life—here's how to have mind-blowing sex using Kundalini techniques. And this thyroid-balancing sequence may just boost your metabolism.