Share Pin Email
feature image
Live Fit

4 Workouts That Will Change Your Mind About Cardio

The following workouts incorporate elements of yoga for a mind-body experience that also gets your heart thumping.

Author Image
Contributing Writer

Yoga can give you flexibility, focus, strength, mental clarity, but rarely, unfortunately, the sustained cardio exercise that’s recommended to stave off heart disease, high blood pressure, and early death.

Now before you come storming into my mentions like a Warrior II: Yes, yoga can get your heart pumping. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that Americans get 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, or even better, 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity. In this case, “moderate” is linked to a rate of perceived exertion (RPE) of 12 to 14, which correlates to 120 or 140 heartbeats per minute. Vigorous exercise is an RPE of 15 to 17, or 150 to 170 beats per minute.

This level of cardio activity is difficult to sustain, especially in a traditional strength session or yoga class. The American Heart Association does not count yoga toward the weekly recommended amount of cardio activity. This might come as a letdown to those who love yoga for the strength, balance, mental clarity, and community it provides. Fear not. Here’s an overview of a few cardio routines that incorporate yogic principles and allow you to experience the best of both worlds, achieving a satisfying mind-body experience.


Yoga movement is coordinated with the breath, and the same practice is required in the pool. If you’re swimming freestyle or breast stroke, there are only certain times when you can breathe to do the movement correctly. This attention to breath can make swimming, like yoga, a moving meditation.

Related: The Radical Healing Effects of Water

From a cardio perspective, it’s tough to beat: Swimmers have about half the risk of death compared to inactive people, according to the CDC, and the exercise is far easier on the joints than bicycling or running. It’s also a natural interval training exercise: Swim one or two laps, rest, and repeat. Intervals like these—alternating between bouts of intense exercise and rest—have been scientifically proven to burn more fat than steady-state, medium-paced cardio, and they count towards that “vigorous” number from the CDC.

Not a strong swimmer? You can obtain the meditation-like benefits of a smoother stroke with your old friend from beginner lessons—the kick board.


The stereotype of thumping music and shouting instructors is well-earned in the group cycling space, but strip those aspects away, and you’ve got a very yoga-like experience—smooth, controlled movements done communally without competition.

That’s what SoulCycle is selling for $34 per class, and it seems to be working. The New York-based company now has studios in New York, California, New Jersey, Washington, DC, Chicago, Florida, and other locations. At each, the class includes positive affirmations, and a sense of what yogis call “bhava,” used to describe an uplifting group energy.

Other group cycling classes across the country incorporate this mind-body approach. Google “zen spinning” and you’ll find similar studios in Arkansas, Connecticut, and other locations. AQUA, an underwater cycling studio in New York City, offers a “Mantra Flow” class that combines the energy of Spinning class with the therapeutic and meditative qualities of water-based exercise, all set to the soundtrack of mantra music.

Stand-Up Paddleboard

It’s no wonder stand-up paddleboards have become another location for yoga: They require great balance and place you in a peaceful natural setting in the great outdoors. To get moving on the board requires rock-solid core stability and rhythmic, repetitive paddling movement. Connect the stroke to your breath: Breathe in each time your draw the paddle forward and switch sides, and empty your lungs as your bring the paddle back to stroke.

Don’t know where to try it? Many kayak rental locations now offer SUPs for the same price. Alternately, a rowing machine offers a similar rhythmic experience indoors at a higher intensity. Breathe in as your draw your knees toward the flywheel, and breathe out as you press back. As with swimming, rowing is perfect for intervals. Start with 30 seconds of work alternated with 30 seconds of rest, going for at least six intervals.

Cardio Flow

Some yoga studios and gyms offer hybrid classes that combine yoga and elements of cardio training. Heidi Kristoffer, a yoga instructor in New York City, created one program like this called CrossFlow X, a yoga class that incorporates high-intensity bouts of gym exercises, like pushups or mountain climbers, with restorative yoga poses. The high-intensity part doesn’t sound very yoga-like, but the instructor says the intense exercise can actually help improve your practice.

“Our mind can be all over the place in yoga. For a lot of people, especially in type-A environments, people’s heads don’t ever turn off,” she says. This can lead to tight, awkward poses when the mind doesn’t turn off. But the intensity of other exercise can help clear things up. “After the interval, your body is so tired. Your mind isn’t thinking about tense spots anymore, so you have the space to let go.”

Try a mini-class made up of intervals like this yourself. You’ll perform each exercise for one minute, then the yoga pose for one minute. Perform each pair twice (in the case of pair one, alternating the side on the pigeon pose so you do each side once).

• 1 minute mountain climber + 1 minute Pigeon Pose
• 1 minute speed skater + 1 minute Frog Pose
• 1 minute low Boat Pose to Boat Pose + 1 minute supported Bridge Pose



Comments (0)

A 3-Day Clean Eating Meal Plan

Reset your diet to feel healthy and energized with Sonima’s free six-page guide designed to keep you satisfied as you cut back on calories, sugar, and processed foods!

Get the Guide

Load More

Find us on Instagram

  • . .

Here are a few easy and basic tips you can start to implement into your practice to first develop the strength for handstands. 
1. Use Uddiyana Bandha in Downward Facing Dog.
2. Hold high plank position using strong legs and core.
3. Start to jump forward from Downward Dog and get your hips up over your shoulders. 
4. Don’t be afraid of falling over. 
5. Feel comfortable to land in a backbend or use the wall for support.
  • Try these quick, simple, and nutritious “Holiday Roasted Rosemary Vegetables.” Bring them to that impromptu Christmas party or enjoy them in your own home. 
They are a great addition to any Hanukah dinner or gathering with  friends or family. 🥕

Click on our bio link for the full recipe created by Amie Valpone @amievalpone 🙏🏽♥️
#holidayseason #holidayrecipes #christmasfood #amievalpone #cleaneatingrecipe #cleandiet #detoxdiet #eatingclean #thehealthyapple #resetyourbody #antiinflammatorydiet #flightinflammationwithfood #eatingcleanrecipes #vegetarianrecipes #veganrecipes #veganfoodlovers #veganfood #vegetarianmeals #healthyrecipes #mindfulliving #livewell #livefree #livefit #sonima #livesonima #healthylivingrevolution #healthierchoices  #balancedlife #balancediet #roastedveggies
  • Opportunities are coming your way this month, and with the right mindset and some newfound confidence, you can wrap up 2020 with great success! 💫

Read your full December horoscope 
when you click on our bio link! ✨
#tuesdaytransformation #tuesdaymorning #tuesdaythoughts #astrology #horoscopes #sagitarius 
#yogalifestyle #yogaliving #positivenergy #positivelifestyle #positivemindpositivelife 
#mindfulliving #livewell #livefree #livefit #sonima #livesonima #healthylivingrevolution #astrologicalsign #sagitariusseason #monthlyhoroscopes #astrologyzone #horoscopesigns #monthlyhoroscopes
#sagitarianas #sagittarius♐️
  • Seven science-supported reasons why moderately intense activities—like yoga, walking briskly, or biking around town—will never go out of style and may actually be the best kind of exercise for your body. 🚲
From our profile page, click on our bio-link to read the full article. 🧘🏻‍♀️
#weekendvibes #weekendworkout #weekendwarrior #lowintensitycardio #lifestylefitness #workoutroutine #workoutmotivation #workoutoftheday 
#yogalifestyle #yogaliving #positivenergy #positivelifestyle #positivemindpositivelife
#mindfulliving #livewell #livefree #livefit #sonima #livesonima #healthylivingrevolution #healthierchoices  #balancedlife #createbalance #createhealthyhabits #mindbodyhealth #integrativehealth #loveyourlife #sundayinspiration
  • Though it's often hard to move after a heavy meal, these sweet yoga poses help to relieve the body, restore comfort, and aid in digestion! 
After the feast, give yourself some time to rub your stomach, then, take a deep breath and turn to your yoga practice to care for your digestive health. 
Good digestion is a key part of overall well-being and happiness! 🧘🏻‍♀️ .
Follow the link in our bio to follow this very helpful practice to help you digest. ✨

Happy Thanksgiving! 🙏🏽

Yoga practice created by @christinechenyoga 
Photos by @haileywist .


#yogalifestyle #yogaliving #positivenergy #positivelifestyle #positivemindpositivelife
#mindfulliving #livewell #livefree #livefit #sonima #livesonima #nationalgratitudemonth #gratitudechallenge #gratefulheart #gratitudejournal #gratitudeattitude #gratitudedaily #thankfulgratefulblessed #thankfulheart #gratitudepractice #attitudeofgratitude 
#gratefulforlife #gratitudemonth #gratitudemeditation #deepakchopra .
  • Happy Thanksgiving Sonima Family! 
Today, we are so grateful for all of you! 
Before the festivities begin, we offer you this meditation on gratitude with @deepakchopra . 🙏🏽 .
Stop and take a breath. 
Reflect on all the people and experiences in your life for which you feel gratitude and find resolution with any resentment or grief. . . ✨You can listen to this guided meditation by following the link in our bio. ✨

Family comes into our lives in all kinds of different ways, sometimes they are the people we are related to and sometimes they are the people with whom we share a deep heart connection. 
What is special about today is the time we have to enjoy the company of each other and reflect more deeply on how truly blessed we are! ♥️ .

Today is our final Thankful Thursday and our focus is Family! Thank you to everyone who participated and especially @malasbyemma for the gift prizes! 📿


#thankfulthursday #thanksgiving #thanksgiving2019 #gratitudechallenge #gratitudemonth2019 #malasbyemma
#nationalgratitudemonth #gratitudechallenge #gratefulheart #gratitudejournal #gratitudeattitude #gratitudedaily #thankfulgratefulblessed #thankfulheart #gratitudepractice #attitudeofgratitude 
#gratefulforlife #gratitudemonth 
#attitudeofgratitude #yogalifestyle #yogaliving #positivenergy #positivelifestyle #positivemindpositivelife
#mindfulliving #livewell #livefree #livefit #sonima #livesonima #healthylivingrevolution
Receive fresh content delivered to your inbox every week!