It’s not difficult to sell someone on the benefits of yoga: There’s the increased flexibility, protection from injury, improved respiration and energy, weight reduction, stress reduction and mental clarity. Plus, yoga is appropriate for all fitness levels. The same can be said about the benefits of cardiovascular exercise, which is why combining these two forms of physical activity into one workout is such a brilliant idea.
How to combine yoga & cardio
International yoga expert Claire Grieve recommends two ways you can use yoga for a cardio workout. “You can either do an intense, quick-paced vinyasa yoga flow that gets your heart pumping and serves as its own cardio workout or use yoga as a balance to complement your cardio workout,” she explains.
To build a workout that includes both cardio and yoga, Dr. Diane Malaspina, Yoga Medicine therapeutic specialist, recommends using a high-intensity interval approach: intensity (cardio) paired with weighted movement (yoga). To create intensity, pair two yoga poses by inhaling into one and exhaling into the other, repeating until fatigue.
Yoga moves to include in a cardio workout
Here are a few of Malaspina’s favorite yoga moves to include in your next cardio workout:
Mountain pose to low squat to Mountain pose
Start standing tall with your feet wider than your hips and your toes turned out. Inhale and stand tall, and on the exhale, bend your knees and lower down into a squat. If there is knee discomfort, stay higher, resting your hands on your knees. If there is no knee pain, go all the way down so your elbows come to your inner thighs and hips hover above the floor. Try to keep your heels on the ground. Inhale, then stand. Exhale, then lower your body into a squat. Repeat 10 times and work up to 20 repetitions. This movement works the hamstrings and glutes, keeps the heart rate high and maintains heat in the body.