Yoga is all about the body and mind, and in many cases, taking it slow to relax your muscles while feeling peaceful.
It’s a flexible physical activity that’s usually done in large classes. However, cardio yoga (sometimes referred to as sweat yoga) is a game-changer, even for those of you who don’t really consider yoga when making your workout plans for the week.
Cardio yoga is mixing flexibility training with high intensity to help burn more calories, and tone more areas of your body. We’re going to cover all the details on it right here, including the benefits, and whether or not it’s a solo or group activity.
What is Cardio Yoga?
Yoga has some personal development and inner working parts to it, meaning you work on yourself as a person while doing this exercise. However, cardio yoga takes it a step further; it’s the extreme version of yoga that anyone can benefit from.
Time and time again, yoga has been proven to help with mental fortitude, confidence, and personal image issues. Cardio cuts calories, which gives you the sense of control and freedom, because you are physically changing yourself in a way that you want to.
Now imagine that those two things are combined. Yoga has always been a great exercise, but it lacks intensity in many areas. This puts intensity into your workout and really makes you build up a sweat.
Cardio yoga is faster than regular yoga, and generally maintains a steady but fast pace to make you sweat as soon as possible, and get your heart pumping.
It’s basically meditating with the fast forward button on: you’re still doing comfortable and mind-training physical activity, but it’s just different than standard yoga.
If you currently do yoga in the comfort of your own home, I just want to tell you that while you can do cardio yoga from home, it’s better to do it in a group or duo atmosphere.
That could mean having your friend come over, or going to a class where there’s this crowd mentality, and the motivational words of a cardio yoga instructor. It’s about intensity, and sometimes on your own, it’s hard to maintain that intensity.
Can we do Yoga and Cardio Together?
Peaceful, meditation-based yoga can be done with cardio at the same time, but it’s definitely leaps and bounds ahead of your normal yoga classes or videos that you use.
It’s hard to maintain a calm, steady mental pace that makes you feel relaxed afterwards while pushing your body to the limit. At a certain point, the thought of “This is killing me, I can’t wait until I’m done” may enter your head. It takes a while to silence that and just focus your mind.
Cardio and yoga can be done together, but it takes a lot of effort to do it properly, which many people are not ready for right out of the gate. With practice and due diligence, you can master cardio yoga in a relatively short amount of time.
Examples of Cardio Yoga Exercises?
These examples let you turn yoga into cardio, so you can exercise at your own pace and do the cardi that you want, while performing the yoga exercises that you’re used to. Cardio yoga is about intensity and keeping that heart rate up, making it variable depending on how intense you want things to be.
1. Drop Planks
Planking is one of those things that are undeniably fantastic for you, but you also dread doing. However, you can take it a step up and improve your physical strength from planking, while turning it into some hardcare cardio.
For a drop plank, extend your arms and plank your body while pushing off the floor. Pretty standard, right?
Now, without hurting your elbow, lean down onto them, holding that plank, and then push up again. Do this repeatedly for as long as you can hold that plank position (while breathing properly of course), and you’ll see that it gets your heart racing like nothing else.
2. Chair Poses
Be the chair. Lean backwards into a squat, with your hands pressed together at chest-level, and dip down like you’re sitting in a chair. Hold that position for as long as you can.
Ideally, you’ll feel your calves burning, your abdomen working, and as you hold that post, your heart rate will elevate.
To boost it up a bit, you can squat back up quickly, and then back down to your sitting position. There’s no real rule of thumb here, just do it until you feel as though you’ve achieved everything you need to.
If that means four motions in one minutes, or ten motions in one minute, that’s okay – everyone has a different level of activity that breaks a sweat. Find yours.
3. Mountain Climbers
Mountain climbers are one of my favorites, because they’re a perfect blend of cardio and yoga meshed into one. Put yourself into a loose plank position with your arms fully extended, pushing you up off the floor.
From here, get on your tiptoes. You don’t have to hold your abdomen super tight for this, just do whatever is comfortable for you.
Now, from your tiptoes, kick outward on both sides. You’ll spread your legs about fifteen degrees, then come back into an ankle-to-ankle position. Repeat this as much as you can.
But there’s another step to it: if you want to bring it to the next level, you can do calisthenic mountain climbers, which are better for cardio and a little bit less yoga.
With that fifteen degree gap, you’re going to focus on one leg at a time. Bring your left leg up into a kick, bending your knee up to your chest, and then back down to the previous position. Do it with your right leg. Repeat this in one or two minute reps.
4. Slow Pistol Squats
Pistol squats are not an easy thing to do, but it improves your balance like few other yoga moves out there. Remember that you decide the intensity here. Instead of leaning down into a normal squat, you’re going to do it on one leg.
Keep your hands at chest-level, and focus on your center of gravity. If you’ve never done something like this before, then it’s going to feel challenged. That’s a good thing. Finding your balance might take some time.
Slowly lean down into a one-legged squat, lowering yourself as much as possible. From there, try to push yourself back up again on one leg. Alternate to the other leg, and repeat the steps.
This can be done slowly and still increase your heart rate, but eventually, your center of gravity will be improved and you’ll be able to do this at a faster pace, getting a better cardio workout out of it.
5. Dolphin Push Ups
Starting in the downward dog position, you’re going to lean down onto your elbows one at a time. Lean down on your left elbow, then your right, then raise your leg, and raise your right. This is going to stretch your calves as well as some lower back muscles.
The resistance of pushing yourself back up is what’s going to elevate your heart rate. This is about speed, but there’s a limit. You don’t want to hurt your elbows by leaning down.
As long as you have a good yoga mat and you don’t drop your body weight when you lean on your elbows, this will be fine.
6. Rapid Lunge Holds
Lunges work out so many muscle groups, but while doing so, they also kickstart your heart. Move into a lunge position on one leg, while keeping both of your arms completely upright and straight.
Your arms need to stay up during the entire exercise, whether that’s a one-minute rep or you just keep on going. This stretches your abdomen muscles, allowing them to be targeted more easily. Through this, you’ll feel more tension on your body and your heart rate will pick up.
Alternate from left to right for as long as possible. During breaks, be sure to slowly bring your arms down; don’t just let them drop. We want to keep your muscles properly stretched for when we resume, or for the rest of your cardio yoga workout.
Cardio Yoga Could be Your New Thing
Cardio on its own is great, but it serves the purpose of burning calories, staying fit, and sometimes training certain targeted muscle groups (depending on the activity).
Cardio yoga is much more involved, giving you a way to train the rest of your body in so many ways, extending your flexibility, and staying toned and sexy at the same time. It could be the newest addition to your workout regimen.