Are you looking to bring your yoga practice and physical health to the next level? Do you have a regular and rigorous asana practice, but feel that the poses are not enough to achieve optimal health and wellbeing? If so, you may be in need of a cardiovascular component to your practice. In this article, we will discuss why combining both asana practice and cardiovascular exercise is important for cardiovascular health and longevity.
We will explain in detail the various exercises that can form part of your asana practice and how regularly incorporating them into your practice can improve overall health.
What is Cardiovascular Exercise and Why is it Important for Overall Health?
Cardiovascular exercise is the type of physical activity that is focused on elevating the heart rate, causing an increased demand for oxygen in the body. It is referred to often as “aerobic” exercise and generally includes activities such as running, cycling, swimming and walking.
Regular aerobic exercise has numerous benefits for the body, including improved cardiovascular system health, improved breathing and breathing capacity, improved flexibility and muscle tone, and improved fitness and health.
The Benefits of Combining Asana Practice and Cardio
Combining asana practice and cardio can be an effective way to approach physical fitness and health. By regularly engaging in both asana practice and aerobic exercise, we can ensure that our bodies are given the physical nourishment and conditioning that they require.
We can easily work our aerobic capacity within the confines of our asana practice, which makes it an ideal way to approach physical health from both a holistic and specific standpoint.
In particular, regularly engaging in both asana and aerobic exercise can bring about the following benefits:
Improved Cardiovascular Health: Regular aerobic exercise helps to strengthen the heart, and therefore makes the heart more efficient. This improved efficiency can, in turn, lead to improved overall cardiovascular health. Specific activities such as low-impact aerobics and interval training can particularly helpful in strengthening the cardiovascular system.
Increased Flexibility: Not only is aerobic exercise beneficial for the cardiovascular system, it can also improve overall flexibility and muscle tone. Combining aerobic exercise with asana practice helps to facilitate this improvement. Certain cardio activities such as stretching, weight-bearing exercises, and aerobic exercises can be especially beneficial in improving flexibility and muscle tone.
Increased Breath & Breathing Capacity: Regular aerobic activity also helps to increase breath and overall breathing capacity (VO2 Max). This increased breath can be beneficial not only in strengthening the respiratory system but also in fostering a greater connection with the self. By working with both breath and movement, one is able to access a deeper state of being.
Overall Mental and Physical Health: Regularly engaging in aerobic exercise can also help to improve overall mental and physical health. Certain aerobic exercises such as running or swimming can be especially therapeutic for improving mental clarity and balance. Increased endorphins released during aerobic activity can help to uplift the spirits and maintain mental and emotional balance.
Types of Cardiovascular Exercise to Add to Your Asana Practice
Now that we have looked at the various benefits of including aerobic exercise in one’s asana practice, let’s take a look at some specific exercises that can be incorporated into an asana practice.
Low-Impact Cardio: Low-impact cardio exercises such as walking, swimming and cycling are excellent for strengthening the cardiovascular system without putting excessive strain on the body.
Low-impact aerobic exercise should be used in conjunction with asana practice, as it is a gentle way to build up fitness and activity levels.
Interval Training: Interval training is an effective way to increase fitness and strength levels. Interval training involves short bursts of high-intensity exercise followed by a recovery period. When it comes to asana practice, interval training is an ideal way to incorporate aerobic exercise into the practice.
Weight-Bearing Exercises: Weight-bearing exercises such as squats, push-ups and burpees are an excellent way to increase strength levels and improve overall cardio endurance. When practiced correctly and regularly, these exercises can be used to help improve strength and flexibility levels.
In conclusion, it is clear that combining asana practice and aerobic exercise can be an effective way to improve physical and mental wellbeing. Regular aerobic activity helps to strengthen the heart, improve breath and breathing capacity, increase flexibility, and improve overall physical and mental health. Low-impact cardio, interval training and weight-bearing exercises are all great forms of aerobic exercise that can be used in conjunction with asana practice. With time and dedication, one can achieve optimal health and wellbeing through the combination of asana practice and aerobic exercise.