Yoga originated in India and is historically said to be at least 5000 years old. It brings about mental, physical and spiritual peace to those who practice it. By definition, the word yoga means to “unite or integrate” oneself to their body and consciousness.

Historically, people believed that in order for humans to be in a state of peace, they had to intertwine their mind, body and spirit together which is what lead to the formation of yoga. This is done through several different exercises and poses, including a certain style of breathing and extreme meditation. It is said that yoga will improve our circulation, act as a stimulus to organs in the abdominal area and generally improve health.

Meditation during yoga also brings peace of mind, causes us to become aware of our body and relieves stress. However, although it can be seen that yoga is good for our physical and mental health, another common question is: does it burn fat? Is yoga a suitable form of cardio for someone on a fat loss program?

Yoga and cardiovascular fitness  

According to a research team at the University of Wisconsin Human Performance Lab, yoga is not intense enough to burn a high rate of fat or increase cardiovascular fitness. Whereas it does have countless benefits to our flexibility, strength, balance and even endurance, it does not raise heart rate high enough or increase our VO2 (VO2 can be referred to as the rate of transferring oxygen into energy during exercise) to boost overall cardiovascular wellbeing.


According to John Porcari, the head of the research team, in order to increase your cardiovascular fitness, you need to increase your heart rate to a range of 60 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate which yoga does not achieve. He claims it can be done through vigorous activity such as running, biking or even intense walking. This indicates that although yoga is a good form of exercise, it is not intense enough to increase our metabolic rate.

Yoga and physical strength 

According to the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, yoga improves arm and leg strength, greater coordination with the body, better overall balance and increased health of the nervous system through meditation and relaxation. However, according to Tom Venuto, author of Burn The Fat Feed The Muscle, although yoga increases our strength, it cannot be compared to a conventional weight training program that uses full range muscle contractions and is dynamic.

Bikram yoga and fat loss

Many people believe that Bikram yoga (doing yoga at high temperatures) burns a lot of calories because it takes place in a hot room. However, sweating in a hot room is not an indication of fat being burned but rather your body trying to regulate your body temperature.

Yoga and mental well-being

Yoga prevents depression and calms your mind

Performing yoga will help others feel better about themselves and make them less likely to overeat during times of stress.

Yoga makes you more conscious about a healthy lifestyle

Yoga is a lifestyle that entails consciousness and health. Embracing the yoga lifestyle will help you become aware of what you put in your body and make healthier food choices.

In conclusion

Yoga improves our muscular fitness, flexibility, relaxes us, connects us to our bodies and is an escape from stress.

If you are already in shape and merely want to maintain where you are, then yoga would serve as a a perfect technique for keeping fit and improving your health. However, if your primary goal is to lose fat want to lose fat, it is better to resort to alternative cardio methods that increase your heart rate with a weightlifting program to boost your metabolism and increase calorie expenditure.