Is Yoga An Exercise?
by MedPlus Team, April 15, 2022
Ever thought that doing yoga is equivalent to daily exercise while rolling your mat? Many of us know that asanas are a good way to reduce stress and stretch your muscles. But doing asanas, Surya Namaskaras, ashtangas actually qualify as a workout? Yoga may not exactly qualify to be equal to a workout, but has its own set of benefits for the body. Yoga asanas are great for all body parts and various ailments. By doing asanas one can burn calories if done at a faster pace. It need not necessarily be about burning calories; it could just be about improving overall flexibility and mental health.
Related read: Yoga – For Body & Spirit
Instead of doing 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or exercising more to achieve personal health and wellness. Adding a yoga class to our daily routine accomplishes the goal. By doing asanas we burn calories, but there is a difference between changing the poses to holding to a single pose. It is not only about burning calories. It is much more. Let us know more about yoga exercises in this article.
Is Yoga Enough?
For anyone new to exercise, yoga is enough and it caters to all required elements for a healthy lifestyle. While some practices work towards calorie loss, some work towards physical/mental strength and some others work towards endurance. People who are willing to stay fit and gain strength will incorporate other activities eventually. Yoga is not sufficient for people who are using it as a sole form of fitness. It does not fulfill the necessary requirements for physical fitness goals. Like exercise, yoga has no upper-body pulling movements that are considered a functional movement pattern. Instead, yoga helps to maintain an upright posture, especially as one age.
Muscle Strengthening Through Asanas
Do only machines or free weights help you get muscle mass? It is not true completely, doing yoga regularly can also improve muscle mass. Many postures help us gain muscle mass. Asanas such as tree pose, warrior pose, horse pose, boat pose, side plank, upward plank pose, and Surya namaskars help in improving muscular mass. These poses are a type of bodyweight training in which you utilize your body weight as resistance. These postures can challenge and strengthen muscles simply by leveraging our body weight.
Is Yoga An Aerobic Exercise?
Everyone has a unique heart rate depending on their age, health, and how to fit they are. Moderate and vigorous exercises vary from person to person. A healthy adult has a target heart rate of about 50% – 70% of the maximum heart rate for moderate-intensity exercise. Whereas, for vigorous exercise, the target heart rate is about 70% – 85%. Asanas are not necessarily aerobic exercises similar to walking, running, biking, or using an elliptical machine. The target heart rate while doing asanas ranges between 60% – and 70% which is similar to moderate exercise. Classes that focus more on mindfulness and restoration may not get the heart rate up as much as more athletic classes that are designed to keep us moving.
Yoga postures like ashtanga, Hatha, and gentle yoga elevates a moderate amount of heart rate. People doing ashtanga had an increase of about 30 beats per minute. Whereas Hatha and gentle yoga increase 15 beats per minute. Depending on the age and resting heart rate, the amount of activity is enough to count as moderate exercise, but not for others. But doing asanas doesn’t mean it is not worthwhile. It is still activity but it is less intense than something that gets your heart rate up more. Because our heart is a muscle and when we challenge it by elevating heart rate it will get stronger, anything that does that is helpful.
Benefits of Asanas
- Flexibility: Doing asanas will stretch your muscles. They can help you feel less stiff or stressed and move better.
- Strength: Asanas such as ashtanga and power yoga are very physical. Practicing these forms helps in gaining muscular strength. Not only do many forms improve our muscle strength.
- Posture: With more strength and flexibility our body gets a good posture. Many standing and sitting postures develop core strength. They also help our body awareness like noticing slouching or slumping.
- Breathing Benefits: Asanas involves paying attention to breathing which helps us relax. It may also call for specific breathing techniques.
- Less Stress: After completing your yoga exercise session you feel more relaxed and less stressed. Some of the postures use meditation techniques that help calm the mind.
- Good for Heart: Yoga is well-known for lowering blood pressure and slowing the heart rate. A slower heart rate can benefit people with high blood pressure and heart diseases. It improves our immune system function and reduces cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Also read: Health Benefits of Early Morning Yoga
So does yoga count as exercise? Maybe not in terms of the cardiovascular workout we need. But our health is much more than just cardio. Like thinking about flexibility, emotional health, and creating a strong core and balance. There is no such exercise that checks all these other boxes. So finding a yoga that complements our life as opposed to just being an extension of the things we are already doing is a helpful way to look at it.