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The Metabolic Demand of a Vinyasa Yoga Session



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Vinyasa yoga, also known as power flow yoga, is growing in popularity in western cultures. Vinyasa yoga is characterized by moving with the breath and connecting the postures by a series of dynamic movement in between traditional yoga poses. The purpose of this thesis was to determine the intensity and metabolic costs of a typical Vinyasa yoga routine by measuring respiratory gas exchange, heart rate, and perceived rating of exertion. Secondary purposes were to determine whether there were differences between beginner and advanced practitioners and between males and females. Eight beginner (4 males and 4 females) and eight advanced (4 males and 4 females) yoga practitioners were tested while completing a Vinyasa yoga routine. Participants first completed a maximal aerobic test on a treadmill to determine maximal aerobic capacity, and to allow the assessment of relative workload during a subsequent yoga session. After adequate rest, the participant completed a 90-minute familiarization of the Vinyasa yoga session at his or her own skill level. After 4 – 7 days the participants returned, where the beginners completed the beginner routine and the advanced practitioners were randomly assigned to do either the beginner or advanced routine. The advanced practitioners came back on a separate day to complete the routine they had not yet completed. To allow participants to move freely, a portable system (Cosmed K4b2) was used to measure respiratory gas exchange (i.e. oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide output). A heart rate monitor was worn to collect heart rate data. Rating of perceived exertion was measured at set times throughout the session. The mean metabolic equivalents (METs) of Vinyasa yoga (4.7) were significantly higher (p < 0.001) than the 3.0 METs needed to achieve a moderate intensity based on the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines. During the yoga session, 68 ± 10 minutes were spent above 3.0 METs (moderate intensity) and of those minutes, 16 ± 16 were spent above 6.0 METs (vigorous intensity). Based on the Canadian Guidelines for Physical Activity of 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity activity, three 90-minute Vinyasa yoga sessions a week can meet the recommendations for adults.



Vinyasa yoga, metabolic demands, VO2, METs, oxygen consumption



Master of Science (M.Sc.)






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