Does 30 minutes of yoga count as exercise?

Yes, yoga provides excellent training, but it won't do much for your cardiovascular health. Since it can be an aerobic exercise, many sports teams are adding yoga sessions to their training regimen to help them get in shape and recover from injuries. Yoga isn't necessarily an aerobic exercise in the same category as walking, running, biking, or using an elliptical machine, Laskowski says. Whether a yoga class places your heart rate in the target zone as moderate physical activity or not depends on the type of yoga and the intensity with which you do it, Laskowski says.

Classes that focus more on mindfulness and restoration may not increase your heart rate as much as athletic classes that are designed to keep you moving, she adds. Yoga does more than burn calories and tone muscles. It is a complete workout for the mind and body that combines strengthening and stretching poses with deep breathing and meditation or relaxation. It's important to understand that yoga isn't just one of the many ways to exercise.

It teaches people to love themselves and to appreciate what they are and what they can achieve. If practiced correctly, yoga can have tremendous positive effects on mood, motivation levels and self-awareness, while being a well-known holistic approach to managing anxiety and depression. Other optional equipment includes a yoga ball to maintain balance, one or two yoga blocks, and straps to help you reach your feet or join your hands behind your back. But you'll probably want to use a yoga mat to keep you from slipping while you're standing and to protect yourself while you're sitting or lying down.

Participants in ashtanga, the most active type of fluid yoga, had an increase of about 30 beats per minute, while students of hatha and gentle yoga had an increase of only about 15 beats per minute. Ultimately, yoga can be a good workout, but don't rely on it to build fitness and strength. Another study conducted this month found that people with major depressive disorder had significantly reduced depressive symptoms after being assigned to take 90-minute yoga classes that included breathing exercises, either three times a week or twice a week for 12 weeks. And while yoga can help with the physical, it has accumulated at least the same amount of evidence that it helps with the mental.

Two new studies, published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine, reveal that yoga can actually burn calories, but especially if done at a faster pace. But can a dedicated yoga practice truly meet all your needs for health promotion and increased longevity? We spoke to fitness professionals to find out. There are a lot of factors at play, but the short answer is yes, yoga is a great tool that anyone can use as part of a balanced training program. A very gentle yoga program, together with light aerobic activity such as walking or swimming, may be the best way to start.

And while yoga isn't aerobic, some research reveals that it can be as good as aerobic exercise for improving health. One of the best things about making yoga part of a daily routine is that yoga doesn't have to be expensive. The likelihood of eating a well-balanced meal after a yoga session is higher, mainly because people feel the need not to undo all the energy they invest in training. However, the muscles that are developed in a yoga class may differ in some ways from the muscles and muscle tone that are developed in other types of strength training, Laskowski explains.