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Sunday, November 2, 2008

Yoga vs. Exercise

Just yesterday I went to my doctor for a routine exam. I mentioned that I exercised roughly 5-6 days per week. She had seen me reading a yoga magazine when she walked into the examination room, so she asked me if I "only" did yoga. She said that yoga didn't provide enough cardio.

As a yoga enthusiast (and a regular practitioner of Vinyasa Flow yoga, which is actually quite aerobic), I found myself put off by her comment. Just a week or so ago in the news, there was an article reporting that an hour of yoga "only" burns about 144 calories or some such nonsense.

Yes, there are many forms of yoga that aren't exactly aerobic. Calorie burn is not top of mind for a yogi. Yoga fosters a body awareness, which is something that goes deeper than calorie burn. It can lead to healthier eating, stress reduction, and self-care. All of those things can lead to dramatic weight loss. Yes, aerobic exercise burns calories and can help you lose weight. But does it change you internally, thereby causing a lasting weight loss?

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