Can Yoga Really be good for your Heart…Rate? #movementmonday

A yoga practice of any kind seems to be a part of almost everyone’s fitness regime today. You often see practicing yogis walking with a mat in tow in some chic carrying case, about to benefit from one of the oldest practices in the world. It would seem with a 5000-year history; the benefits of yoga have already been proven. So, how does the question of cardiovascular health and a yoga practice still come up?

It is atypical to link our cardio-respiratory health with some traditional yoga styles. However, with the influx of fusion yoga like “yoga flow”, “power yoga” and “vinyasa” these classes are reframing aerobics for the yogi. If you have found yoga because it speaks to you in a different way than the traditional workouts at the gym, know that you are in great company and can and probably are getting your heart rate pumped. There are countless benefits attributed to yoga like weight-loss, heart disease protection, freedom from depression, increased flexion, and preventative joint care. The question that is still debated and scientifically challenged is, “can yoga sustain activity that elevates your heart rate”?

To ensure the heart is attaining cardiovascular fitness we need to balance the intensity of the yoga sequence, the length of time or duration of the practice, and consistency and frequency of how often we are practicing. However, we need to measure this combination of intensity, duration, and frequency with ANY physical regime for it to matter to the heart. Ultimately, find an exercise you enjoy, the more you are connected to it, the more you will want to practice it and the more fit you will become.

With any yoga practice, advanced, beginner, flow, or alignment based, if you follow and practice these 4 principles, your cardio element of your weekly practices will be elevated.

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  1. Learn some basic Pranayama (breath) exercises and open and close your practice with them like a traditional warm up and cool down. Practice these different breathing techniques for 5 – 7 minutes to make it count as heart exercise. Wait until you see what it does for your mind too!
  2. Practice your Sun Salutations and run through it 5 to 10 rounds. It is a flow of 9 basic poses that heat up the muscle and body bringing a cardio element to your practice.
  3. Start adding inversions and holding them for longer durations as part of your practice. Adho Mukah Svanasana (Downward Dog) is considered an inversion.
  4. Practice holding all your poses for longer durations. Some milestones to attempt would be 5 – 10 breaths and building it up to 3 – 5 minutes a pose. You will quickly notice that the duration of pose will directly affect the intensity and heart rate increase.

Yoga is a lifestyle. It is also a fitness regime. But once the two paths intersect it often becomes a practice that you carry around with you everywhere you go. And sometimes you get to take it in a funky carrying case feeling all uber chic, from the inside out!

Namaste

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