Is Yoga Cardio or Strength?
Yoga incorporates cardio and strength exercises but is more focused on strength building than cardio in most practices.
Yoga as Strength Training
The continuous stabilization of poses creates strength, and the balance of weight varies the intensity of the practice by the weight and current strength of the individual. Strength building can also be increased in yoga practice based on the individual. Holding balancing poses for a longer period of time comes with practice and skill but increases the strength building associated with the exercise. Another way to increase strength building in yoga is to practice bracing. Bracing is the act of engaging the abdomen. It is common to forget to brace during most yoga exercises. Continuing bracing throughout practice adds additional strength difficulty. It also can relieve pressure from the lower back and spine. Oftentimes props are used in yoga exercises. Props can increase the intensity of the strength needed to hold poses. For example, when weights are added to Warrior II Pose, the shoulders are especially targeted. In general, most yoga instructors do not suggest additional weight props in the beginning of class, so it is important to ask about incorporating them into your practice.
Yoga as Cardio
Even so, yoga is also cardiovascular exercise. Vinyasa flow yoga especially incorporates cardiovascular benefits of yoga. Vinyasa yoga incorporates the continuous flow of positions and transitioning with breathing practices and varies intensity based on the individual. If the individual wishes to increase the intensity of the workout, they might consider moving faster or holding difficult poses for longer periods of time.
Yoga is effective as both a strength building and cardiovascular exercise. To intensify these benefits throughout the work out, various props, exercises and pose holding techniques can be used. It is important to pay close attention to the recommendations of the instructor for the safety of the practice.