If you’ve attempted to establish a workout routine, chances are you’ve questioned which types of workouts you should do and when. Between all the “shoulds” and “shouldn'ts” we hear and read about fitness, choosing a balanced workout regime can become confusing.
Even the everyday yogi has probably asked, “should I do yoga or cardio first?” Implementing hybrid workouts into your active lifestyle is ideal for optimal health and performance, but in exactly what order?
Yoga or cardio?
Short answer: both. But, which one should come first?
Generally speaking, it’s better to do cardio before practicing yoga. But, why?
There’s a few reasons. First off, yoga has a tendency to calm and center the mind, and relax the body. Can you imagine zenning out during savasana then getting up to run a couple of miles? Going from relaxation to marathon training can startle the senses. Instead, cardio should be used to warm up the body before bending, twisting, lunging and gliding into various yoga positions.
Running before yoga allows the muscles to fully warm up, which can help you get deeper into different yoga poses. And, likewise, practicing yoga for cardio—especially after a long run—can increase recovery time and help you hit an even better PR the next day.
But, of course, like all answers, there isn’t just one.
Incorporating yoga into workout routine
If you’re an avid runner looking to add some yoga to your life, or a yogi wanting to get in a little bit of cardio, it’s important to understand which styles of yoga are best for your goals.
The styles of yoga range from restorative, Yin and Hatha to Vinyasa, power, hot and Bikram— and, that just scratches the surface. Running before a restorative yoga class is ideal, giving you the perfect amount of stretching and calmness, plus a cool down period at the end of your workout. However, running before a hot or Bikram yoga class can do more harm than good on the body.
Hot yoga in itself is considered a cardiovascular workout. It requires practicing yoga in a room set to 105 degrees, which elevates your heart rate. Not to mention, the heat alone will make you sweat more than you ever have before. So, running a few miles before a hot yoga class isn’t a good idea for the sake of hydration and muscle fatigue.
However, if you’re up for a challenge and want to incorporate strength building yoga poses into your workout routine, then hitting up a Vinyasa class after your run will definitely provide a solid balance of cardio, strength building and stretching, plus a much-needed cool down period. Not for the faint hearted, this will definitely be a challenging yet rewarding workout!
But, what if I enjoy running after yoga?
At the end of the day, deciding to do cardio or yoga first is entirely up to you. If you prefer to run after yoga, then by all means, go for it! While running before yoga aligns your workout with a cool down at the end, running after yoga may speak to you more. Whatever you decide to do, just be sure to end your workout with a 20 minute cool down and stretching session.
About the Author
India Allen is a twenty-something writer, yoga teacher, and health & wellness coach currently residing in the mountains of Idaho. She is a lover of quotes and asanas, the changing of seasons, old books, tattoos and chai tea. She attended Shanti Yoga Teacher Training where she found her passion in biomechanics, truth seeking, enlightening words, raw growth, and empowering others to understand why we do what we do in yoga.