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Vinyasa Yoga vs. Traditional Cardio for Weight Loss

author image Christina Schnell
Christina Bednarz Schnell began writing full-time in 2010. Her areas of expertise include child development and behavior, medical conditions and pet health. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in international relations.
Vinyasa Yoga vs. Traditional Cardio for Weight Loss
Vinyasa yoga requires moving continuously through a range of poses. Photo Credit Amanda Edwards/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Vinyasa yoga and traditional cardiovascular exercise can both offer effective ways to improve your endurance, burn calories and sculpt your muscles. Vinyasa yoga is a popular type of flowing yoga, sometimes referred to as dynamic yoga, in which you move between positions without stopping. When it comes to reducing your waistline, however, the intensity and variety of your cardiovascular workout determines whether it's equal or superior to vinyasa yoga.

Traditional Cardiovascular Exercise: Pros

Traditional cardiovascular exercises help you improve your breathing capacity and heart rate. Any activity from biking to running, or using the elliptical machine can provide a quality cardiovascular workout, provided you push yourself. Obviously, running for 30 minutes at a speed of 2 miles per hour burns fewer calories than running 8 miles per hour for 30 minutes. The movements of traditional cardiovascular exercise, such as peddling a bike or running, are easier to execute quickly and accurately. Being able to perform these motions safely and with speed intensity makes burning calories easier than an exercise like vinyasa yoga, where form takes precedence over speed.

Traditional Cardiovascular Exercise: Cons

While the physical act of running or biking requires minimal coordination, traditional cardiovascular exercises also use fewer muscle groups. The movements are typically repetitive and primarily work the lower half of your body. Your body also burns fewer calories as it becomes increasingly practiced and efficient at performing a single repetitive, traditional cardiovascular exercise. To continue your rate of calorie burning, you must keep challenging yourself by including new cardiovascular exercises that work different muscle groups.

Vinyasa Yoga: Pros

Vinyasa yoga requires moving continuously through a range of poses from downward dog to child's pose while maintaining your balance. Moving through these poses quickly and seamlessly for one hour burns approximately 450 calories. Because many of the positions require supporting your body weight against the force of gravity, vinyasa yoga targets more muscle groups, including the upper body, back and abdominal muscles, than running or biking. Building muscle throughout your body increases the number of calories you burn while resting because muscle burns more energy than fat. As a non-weight-loss-related bonus, the range of movement throughout vinyasa yoga stretches your body and helps improve your flexibility.

Vinyasa Yoga: Cons

Your body burns calories through continuous periods of exertion. Moving fluidly through the vinyasa yoga poses, without stopping or adjusting your balance, requires more skill than a traditional cardiovascular exercise such as running or peddling a bicycle. This emphasis on correct form and the necessity for slower movement is why doing an hour of vinyasa yoga only burns as many calories an hour-long mild jog. Advanced yoga practitioners can raise their calorie expenditure by moving through the poses with greater speed and intensity.

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