Is Yoga Enough Exercise?
Is Yoga Enough Exercise?
Does your yoga practice alone keep you fit or does it form just part of a wider exercise routine for you? Whether yoga provides enough of a workout to form a standalone exercise regime is a hotly debated topic - a discussion which we would like you to take part in.
This Yoga Journal article from 2011 tells the story of John Schumacher, a student of B.K.S. Iyengar, who was convinced that his yoga practice provided him with a complete fitness regime. In fact, Schumacher was so convinced of this that he decided to scientifically prove it, signing up for physiological testing at a lab in Maryland, USA. Schumacher, aged 52, tested close to the top of his age group for maximum heart and exercise recovery rates, proving to be in excellent physical condition with only a 1% chance of cardiac arrest. In Schumacher's case, it seems, yoga was more than enough to keep him in tip top physical condition.
However, just because yoga worked in this way for Schumacher does not mean it will work in the same way for everyone. The variables, of course, lie in what exactly comprises a person's yoga practice. The style of yoga and how aerobically challenging it is, plus the duration and frequency of practice are all powerful factors. If you only practice Restorative Yoga, for example, you may need to take up running, rowing or another intense cardiovascular exercise to ensure your heart and lungs are getting the workout they need. Here's what our teacher Paul Fox has to say about the matter:
"Yoga is a "whole-istic" practice - it mobilises every major joint and stretches and strengthens every major muscle. In some classes the emphasis is very much on stretching, but strength is also important to develop balance the body. In ashtanga, flow and other classes the heart rate will go up, promoting cardio-vascular fitness. But seldom will students reach the recommended maximum heart rates for exercise of 170-200 beats per minute (depending on age). It is for these reasons that yoga perfectly complements most sports, and why a cardio-vascular workout such as running, cycling or swimming can be a good complement to yoga to give people a more complete exercise regime."
Our Hot Yoga teacher Jozef Wiewel believes that yoga alone is enough:
"Yes, yoga can be enough exercise to keep you fit. It is a bit like water (or for that matter fire), it can safe your life and it can kill you. I guess it all depends a lot on how you do it when you do it. The frequency and intensity of your practise, the quality of the teachers and the way you care for yourself before, during and after yoga."
Is yoga enough exercise for you? What else do you do to keep fit? We want to hear from YOU so please join in the discussion by commenting below!
Join Paul Fox for a Hot Ashtanga Masterclass on Sunday 19th October. Spaces are filling up fast so book here to avoid disappointment.