Could you use yoga as cardio training? You could, actually. By doing so, not only would you perform an intensive workout that could even make you sweat, but also burn calories, train the muscles and increase your flexibility.
Physical Aspect of Yoga
It is normally not recommended to consider yoga just as a workout system. It is rather a practice of uniting your body, mind and soul by performing yogic postures, or asanas (following a certain diet and meditating). In yogic philosophy, the body is seen as a vehicle of one's soul; therefore, a physical aspect is very important. Performance of the series of postures, combined with deep breathing, provides a training for different groups of muscles, which means you can complete a thorough workout.
Adding Yoga to Your Routine
Any workout which increases your heartbeat by 60 to 80 percent can be considered cardio. Of course, you would have to exercise for at east 20 minutes to make it really work. In order to diversify your exercising schedule, you might replace jogging, swimming or spinning by an intensive yoga workout. However, whereas you'd burn about 350 calories doing half an hour of jogging, the amount of burnt calories during 30 minutes of Power Yoga workout would approximately equal 200. If you are used to performing more rigorous trainings, you might just add yoga to your routine rather than using it to replace other cardio workouts.
Some styles of yoga include intensive "exercises". One of the styles which is currently very popular is Ashtanga Yoga or, as it is also called, Power Yoga. The essence of it lies in its synchronization of deep breathing and the series of asanas. You will already warm up and start sweating after a 15 minute workout. Completing intensive Ashtanga series will allow your body to sweat out accumulated toxins.
Power Yoga Workout
Start with 4 to 6 progressing Sun Salutation series. To keep this workout intensive, complete the postures in a continuing flow.
- "Mountain" - Standing, put your feet hip width apart, your hands in prayer position. Breath deeply.
- "Head to knees" - Exhaling, bend forward. Try touching your knees with your forehead, and put your palms beside your feet.
- "Lunge" - Inhale, keep your hands on the ground. Put your right leg back and your left knee forward.
- "Plank" - Exhale, put your right leg back so that you come back into plank position. Keep your arms, legs and back straight. Inhale.
- "Stick" - Exhale, lower yourself downwards, but only your hands and feet should touch the ground.
- "Upward Dog" - Inhale and band your waist upwards. Leave your feet and hands as they were in "Stick" posture.
- "Downward Dog" - Exhale, raise your buttocks pushing back and up bringing your body into a position of an arch.
- "Lunge" - Inhale, and put your right foot forward. Complete the postures starting with point 3.
- "Head to Knees" - Exhale, and bring the left foot forward next to the right one stepping into Heat to Knee position.
- "Mountain" - Inhale, and slowly rise while keeping your arms extended. Exhale and return into Mountain position.
Perform the cycle for the left side, and afterwards for the right side of your body (alternate the sides after each cycle).
Start doing Ashtanga series for 15 minutes per day, gradually building up workout time to 40 or 45 minutes. Remember to finish your training with stretching.
Once you start practicing intensive yoga, you will notice that except for making your heart beat faster, it will give you a feeling of control over your body, provide a thorough muscle training and increase your flexibility and strength. Performing Ashtanga series regularly will also give you an energy boost and improve your stamina.