What is Cardio Yoga?
Yoga is often mistaken just as a stretching and a meditation exercise. It involves meditation, breathing techniques, and poses. Along with stretching it helps in increasing flexibility, building muscles, relieving anxiety, and enhancing consciousness.(1)
Cardio yoga is a popular exercise form that combines yoga with cardiovascular exercises. Cardio yoga is best for those who want to enjoy the relaxing benefits of yoga along with some intensity. Cardio yoga involves performing yoga movements at a quicker pace and a continuous flow that engages muscles and works up the cardiovascular system and the circulatory system.
Cardio Yoga Workouts
There are no specific cardio workouts. The instructors can mix the movements and make a sequence.
While doing yoga, make sure that you are doing it on a flat surface and do not have any condition that interferes with the balance.(4)
There are a few moderate-intensity exercises involved in cardio yoga that work all the major muscles including the arm, chest, back, and legs.
- Samasthiti: You need to stand upright with feet together with weight evenly distributed. The shoulders are rolled back and hands hanging by the side and chin parallel to the ground.
- Urdhva Hastasana: Inhale with knees bent slightly, raising arms over the head. Bring the palms together looking at the thumbs.
- Uttanasana: Exhale, straightening the legs. Bend forward, bringing the hands down and relax the neck.
- Urdvah Uttanasana: Inhale and lengthen the spine, looking forward and opening the shoulders.
- Chaturanga Dandasana: Exhale and step the feet back. Bend the elbows keeping them tucked to the sides. Lower the body. You keep the knees off the floor or bring them together to the ground.
- Urdhva Mukha Svanasana: Inhale pointing toes away from the body. Lift the chest keeping the knees off the ground. Open the shoulder and face up to the sky.
- Adho Mukha Svanasana: Exhale and tuck the toes together. Lift the hips and bring the shoulder down, looking at the navel. Stay in the position for up to 5 minutes.
- Urdhva Uttanasana: Step the feet together in between the hands while inhaling. Lengthen the spine and look to the front opening the shoulder.
Uttanasana: Lower the crown while exhaling
- Urdhva Hastasana: Inhale while bending knees and raising arms over the head. Bring palms together looking at the thumbs.
- Samasthiti: Straighten the legs while inhaling, bringing the arms to the side.
Child’s Pose Pushup
Start in kneeling plank position, perform a kneeling pushup and sit back on the heels with the arms extended (child pose). Bring the body forward in the kneeling plank position and repeat the exercise.
Leg Lift Pigeon Sequence
- Start with a plank pose. Lift the hips slightly and raise the left leg towards the ceiling.
- Slowly pull the left leg back down and through and tuck the knees towards the chest. Lift the left leg again to the ceiling, pulling the left knee and allowing the outer portion of the leg to rest on the floor. Lower the left glute down.
- Return to the starting position and repeat with right leg.
- From the standing position, bend at the hips and walk to the plank position. From here, push to the downward-facing dog by pushing the hips to the sky. Stay in the position for 1-2 seconds and then slowly walk back maintaining the contact of hands with the ground. Return to the standing position.
- Each movement needs to be performed 10-15 times before going to the next exercise. You can even mix a few activities such as jumping jacks, air squats, and stationary lunges to keep the body moving.
Benefits of Cardio Yoga
Cardio mixed with yoga routine has some major benefits that include:
- Reduces Stress: Meditation is not the only way to reduce stress. Jumping, dancing, and squatting are also good ways to let go of the daily stress and tensions.(6)
- Helps in Losing Weight: Intensive forms of yoga can train the heart and increase the burning of calories and aids weight loss.(7) Yoga exercise 5 times per week for 30 minutes, help lose weight.(8)
- Improves Heart Health: Adding cardio exercises to yoga benefits heart muscles. The more you work your heart stronger it gets. It raises the heart rate and helps get rid of toxins from the body by pumping the lymphatic system.
- Enhances Brain Function: It is known that cardio exercises increase the flow of blood to the brain, thereby, enhancing brain function.
- Maximize Breath: Cardio exercise works out the lungs and makes them stronger. Yoga along with cardio can help gain better control over breathing.
Cardio yoga is an intense version of traditional yoga. It combines yoga and dynamic movements in a different sequence to increase and sustain the heart rate. This helps train the heart and burn calories.