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.
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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?).
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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.