//Is Yoga Cardio Vascular Exercise?

Is Yoga Cardio Vascular Exercise?

Have you ever been in a health screening where they ask you how much exercise you do? You answer lots of Yoga and the Doc rolls his eyes! To his mind,  Yoga doesnt raise your heart rate sufficiently to count. Now I’ve tried arguing the case for yoga but Doc’s eyes glaze over, he’s already got his mind on the next patient. So let’s look at when is Yoga Cardio Vascular Exercise?

yoga cardio vascular exerciseWhat is CV Exercise?

CV exercise is the type that gets our hearts, lungs, circulatory systems and muscles using oxygen well. It is sometimes called aerobic fitness and it gives us stamina and endurance. It is measured as Maximum Oxygen uptake or VO2 Max. How much Oxygen, Carbon Dioxide and air are we using at our maximum exertion.

CV exercise should be rhythmic, continuous and use large muscle groups under moderate tension for an extended time. When you consider this you can see why my Doctor thinks yoga doesn’t quite fit the bill. He imagines us sitting and chanting OM.

Heart Rate and CV Exercise

We use heart rates to measure how intense aerobic exercise is for an individual. The average resting heart rate for an adult is 60-80 BPM. The fittest of us can have heart rates as low as 40 BPM and the least fit over 100.

When exercising we have a maximum heart rate of 220 minus our age. Mine would be 220-59 or 161. We then take a % of this figure for different training zones.

  • Moderate Aerobic 50% of maximum. This is not CV exercise and a lot of yoga does fit into this level. Most of us find this level of work comfortable and it’s a great level for those fresh to exercise
  • Fitness Zone 60-70% of maximum also know as the Fat Burning Zone and people can usually work at this level for some period of time.
  • Performance 70-80% of maximum. Also known as the aerobic zone. This is the CV fitness zone that is best to improve our cardiovascular fitness. It is challenging and it’s the point which makes a real difference to our health.
  • Performance Anaerobic 80-90% of maximum Highest level for only very fit folks and those working towards a competition of some kind.


Yoga once a week is not enough to keep us fit and healthy. Some recommend yoga every day. The UK Government health guidelines are:

  • Under 5’s, 180 minutes per day every day.
  • Age 5 – 18, 60 minutes upwards per week of moderate to vigorous exercise with bone strengthening activity 3 days per week.
  • Age 19 upwards, 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise or 75 minutes of ovigerous activity. Do something every day with bone strengthening activities on at least 2 days per week.

When is Yoga Cardio Vascular Exercise?

Now I’m just a very small sample of one but I do wear a Fitbit heart rate monitor most of the time. I know from my exercise history over the past year that I certainly can get into the Performance Zone during certain yoga sequences.  Try 20 minutes of Sun Salutations or similar yoga flows for yourself. How about the Tibetan yoga sequence? Observing others in the class I would say that they heart rates are similarly raised too.  Perhaps I could fit them all with monitors just to prove our medical establishment wrong?

Observing others in the class I would say that they heart rates are similarly raised too.  Perhaps I could fit them all with monitors just to prove our medical establishment wrong?  And what about all those lovely Yogis living healthily into their late 90s and beyond? Surely it’s the CV part of yoga that’s contributing to their vitality.

Do you Yoga Cardio Vascular Exercise? It would be great to hear from others who think like me. The British Heart Foundation has lots more information on heart health.

By | 2017-12-07T18:14:25+00:00 May 31st, 2017|Yoga Chat and News|0 Comments

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