What Is Cardio Yoga?

When we think of yoga, our minds drift to a peaceful place filled with zen music, time with our thoughts, and a heavy focus on stretching. That is why we were a little unnerved when we first heard about cardio yoga. How are we supposed to find our inner peace if we're suddenly blending a high-intensity sweat session with our downward-facing dogs? But before we could shut it down, we found out that namaste and a high pulse may just be the perfect blend for maximizing a workout. Here is what cardio yoga is.

According to Healthline, cardio yoga is an increasingly popular exercise combining traditional yoga poses with cardiovascular exercise. This is done by doing yoga-inspired movements at a quicker tempo and uninterrupted flow to activate more muscles and increase your heart rate. Yoga alone has amazing benefits which include reducing stress, building muscle, and improving flexibility, per simplemost. And by adding cardio, you still can get these benefits, and then some. Cardiovascular exercise has been proven to reduce the risk of heart disease and increase caloric burn, Sparc Gym claims.

There are benefits to combining yoga and cardio

Because there is no exact definition of cardio yoga, you are likely to see a difference in movements and routines in different classes with different instructors, according to Healthline. Examples of popular variations of yoga poses used in a cardio yoga workout might be adding mountain climbers to a plank pose, or incorporating one-legged squats into your chair pose, Yogiapproved shares.

And there may be something extra beneficial about doing your cardio while staying relaxed. Sharon Kolkka, the general manager at Gwinganna who has more than 15 years of experience in personal training, explains to Byrdie how a more relaxed workout can be the key to keeping cortisol levels down. "If work or home life pressure is high, resulting in an elevation of the stress hormone cortisol, too much training may push cortisol levels even higher," she says. She goes on to add that an overload of cortisol can actually decrease the body's ability to use fat as an energy source. 

Who would have thought our zen state would have paired so well with an increased heart rate? Not us! But we're all about maximizing our workouts for the most health benefits. And it appears this blended routine is offering just that.