Range of Yoga Intensities From Savasana to Sweating: A Systematic Review

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
Restricted access

Purchase article

USD  $24.95

Student 1 year subscription

USD  $115.00

1 year subscription

USD  $153.00

Student 2 year subscription

USD  $218.00

2 year subscription

USD  $285.00

Background: There is limited research examining the intensity of yoga and intensity variations between different styles. The purpose of this review is to examine the intensity of yoga based on different physiologic responses both between different yoga styles and within styles of yoga. Methods: Articles were searched for on the PubMed database in early 2019. Inclusion criteria were as follows: (1) written in English, (2) cite a specific style of yoga and include whole yoga session, and (3) measure metabolic or heart rate response. Results: Ten articles were reviewed; articles reported oxygen consumption (n = 1), heart rate (n = 4), or both variables (n = 5). Yoga styles assessed included ashtanga (n = 2), Bikram (n = 3), gentle (n = 1), hatha (n = 3), Iyengar (n = 1), power (n = 1), and vinyasa (n = 1). Oxygen consumption commonly categorized yoga as a light-intensity activity, while heart rate responses classified different yoga into multiple intensities. Conclusion: This review demonstrates that large differences in intensity classifications are observed between different styles of yoga. Furthermore, metabolic and heart rate responses can be variable, leading to inconsistent intensity classifications. This is likely due to their nonlinear relationship during yoga. Thus, it is imperative that the field of yoga research works together to create a standard for reporting yoga.

Forseth is with the College of Nursing, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI, USA. Hunter is with the Department of Health and Human Performance, Texas State University, San Marcos, TX, USA.

Forseth (Bforseth@uwm.edu) is corresponding author.
  • 1.

    Feuerstein G, Payne L. Yoga for Dummies. Foster City, CA: IDG Books Worldwide; 1999.

  • 2.

    Collins C. Yoga: intuition, preventive medicine, and treatment. J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. 1998; 27(5):563–568. PubMed ID: 9773368 doi:10.1111/j.1552-6909.1998.tb02623.x

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 3.

    Sherman KJ. Guidelines for developing yoga interventions for randomized trials. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012; 2012:143271. PubMed ID: 23082079 doi:10.1155/2012/143271

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 4.

    McCall MC. In search of yoga: research trends in a western medical database. Int J Yoga. 2014;7(1):4. PubMed ID: 25035601 doi:10.4103/0973-6131.123470

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 5.

    Hunter SD, Laosiripisan J, Elmenshawy A. Effects of heated and thermoneutral yoga interventions on arterial stiffness in middle-aged adults. Complement Ther Med. 2018; 40, 113–115. PubMed ID: 30219434 doi:10.1016/j.ctim.2018.08.005

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 6.

    Hunter SD, Dhindsa M, Cunningham E, et al. The effect of Bikram yoga on endothelial function in young and middle-aged and older adults. J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2017; 21(1):30–34. PubMed ID: 28167186 doi:10.1016/j.jbmt.2016.06.004

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 7.

    Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Christian L, Preston H, et al. Stress, inflammation, and yoga practice. Psychosom Med. 2010;72(2):113–121. PubMed ID: 20064902 doi:10.1097/PSY.0b013e3181cb9377

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 8.

    Chen N, Xia X, Qin L, et al. Effects of 8-week Hatha yoga training on metabolic and inflammatory markers in healthy, female Chinese subjects: a randomized clinical trial. Biomed Res Int. 2016;2016:5387258. PubMed ID: 27563670

    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 9.

    Bijlani RL, Vempati RP, Yadav RK, et al. A brief but comprehensive lifestyle education program based on yoga reduces risk factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus. J Altern Complement Med. 2005;11(2):267–274. PubMed ID: 15865492 doi:10.1089/acm.2005.11.267

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 10.

    Monroe R, Power J, Kumar A, Nagarathna R. Yoga therapy for NIDDM: a controlled trial. Compliment Med Res. 1992;1:47–53.

  • 11.

    Woolery A, Myers H, Sternlieb B, Zeltzer L. A yoga intervention for young adults with elevated symptoms of depression. Altern Ther Health Med. 2004;10(2):60–63. PubMed ID: 15055096

    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 12.

    Daukantaitė D, Tellhed U, Maddux RE, Svensson T, Melander O. Five-week yin yoga-based interventions decreased plasma adrenomedullin and increased psychological health in stressed adults: a randomized controlled trial. PLoS One. 2018;13(7):e0200518. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0200518

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 13.

    Fan JT, Chen KM. Using silver yoga exercises to promote physical and mental health of elders with dementia in long-term care facilities. Int Psychogeriatr. 2011;23(8):1222–1230. PubMed ID: 21385519 doi:10.1017/S1041610211000287

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 14.

    Larson-Meyer DE. A systematic review of the energy cost and metabolic intensity of yoga. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2016;48(8):1558–1569. PubMed ID: 27433961 doi:10.1249/MSS.0000000000000922

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 15.

    Rai L, Ram K. Energy expenditure and ventilatory responses during Virasana—a yogic standing posture. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 1993;37(1):45–50. PubMed ID: 8449544

    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 16.

    Rai L, Ram K, Kant U, Madan SK, Sharma SK. Energy expenditure and ventilatory responses during Siddhasana—a yogic seated posture. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 1994;38:29–33. PubMed ID: 8132240

    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 17.

    Miles SC, Chun-Chung C, Hsin-Fu L, et al. Arterial blood pressure and cardiovascular responses to yoga practice. Altern Ther Health Med. 2013;19(1):38. PubMed ID: 23341425

    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 18.

    Sherman SA, Rogers RJ, Davis KK, et al. Energy expenditure in vinyasa yoga versus walking. J Phys Act Health. 2017;14(8):597–605. PubMed ID: 28422589 doi:10.1123/jpah.2016-0548

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 19.

    Potiaumpai M, Martins MC, Rodriguez R, Mooney K, Signorile JF. Differences in energy expenditure during high-speed versus standard-speed yoga: a randomized sequence crossover trial. Complement Ther Med. 2016;29:169–174. PubMed ID: 27912943 doi:10.1016/j.ctim.2016.10.002

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 20.

    Cowen VS, Adams TB. Heart rate in yoga asana practice: a comparison of styles. J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2007;11(1):91–95. doi:10.1016/j.jbmt.2006.08.001

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 21.

    Moher D, Liberati A, Tetzlaff J, Altman DG; PRISMA Group. Preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses: the PRISMA statement. PLoS Med. 2009;6:e1000097. PubMed ID: 19621072 doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000097

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 22.

    American Dietetic Association. ADA Evidence Analysis Manual. Chicago, IL: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; 2005.

  • 23.

    Norton K, Norton L, Sadgrove D. Position stand on physical activity and exercise intensity terminology. J Sci Med Sport. 2010;13:496–502. PubMed ID: 20005170 doi:10.1016/j.jsams.2009.09.008

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 24.

    Powers SK, Howley ET. Exercise Physiology: Theory and Application to Fitness and Performance. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2007:303–308.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 25.

    Ainsworth BE, Haskell WL, Leon AS, et al. Compendium of physical activities: classification of energy costs of human physical activities. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1993;25(1):71–80. PubMed ID: 8292105 doi:10.1249/00005768-199301000-00011

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 26.

    American College of Sports Medicine 1998: Position Stand “The recommended quantity and quality of exercise for developing and maintaining cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, and flexibility in healthy adults.” Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1998;30:975–991.

    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 27.

    Hagins M, Moore W, Rundle A. Does practicing Hatha yoga satisfy recommendations for intensity of physical activity which improves and maintains health and cardiovascular fitness? BMC Complement Altern Med. 2007;7(1):40. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-7-40

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 28.

    Hurtado MM, Valladares CM, Eblen-Zajjur A, Rodriguez-Fernandez M. Acute cardiovascular responses to a session of Bikram yoga: a pilot uncontrolled trial. J Altern Complement Med. 2019;25(4):398–405. doi:10.1089/acm.2018.0261

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 29.

    Pate JL, Buono MJ. The physiological responses to Bikram yoga in novice and experienced practitioners. Altern Ther Health Med. 2014;20(4):12–18. PubMed ID: 25141359

    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 30.

    Porcari JP, Steffen J. Heart rate and core temperature responses to Bikram yoga. Gundersen. 2015;8:3.

  • 31.

    Clay CC, Lloyd LK, Walker JL, Sharp KR, Pankey RB. The metabolic cost of hatha yoga. J Strength Cond Res. 2005;19(3):604. PubMed ID: 16095417

  • 32.

    Ray US, Pathak A, Tomer OS. Hatha yoga practices: energy expenditure, respiratory changes and intensity of exercise. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011;2011:241294.

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 33.

    Blank SE. Physiological responses to iyengar yoga performed by trained practitioners. J Exerc Physiol Online, 2006;9(1):7–23.

  • 34.

    Schubert MM, Clark AS, Annie B, Newcomer SC. Heart rate and thermal responses to power yoga. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2018;32:195–199. PubMed ID: 30057050 doi:10.1016/j.ctcp.2018.07.003

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 35.

    American College of Sports Medicine. ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2013.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 36.

    Rowell LB. Human cardiovascular adjustments to exercise and thermal stress. Physiol Rev. 1974;54(1):75–159. PubMed ID: 4587247 doi:10.1152/physrev.1974.54.1.75

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 37.

    Carroll J, Blansit A, Otto RM, Wygand JW. The metabolic requirements of vinyasa yoga. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2003;35(5):S155. doi:10.1097/00005768-200305001-00856

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 38.

    Forseth B, Hauff C. Use of a ‘pose rate’ to quantify yoga. Complement Ther Med. 2019;42:48–52. PubMed ID: 30670281 doi:10.1016/j.ctim.2018.10.021

  • 39.

    Soni R, Muniyandi M. Breath rate variability: a novel measure to study the meditation effects. Int J Yoga. 2019;12(1):45. PubMed ID: 30692783 doi:10.4103/ijoy.IJOY_27_17

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 262 262 107
Full Text Views 15 15 4
PDF Downloads 14 14 3