Boxing and yoga could possibly be the two most opposite workouts you can think of -- at least at first sight. One is all about power and strength, while the other is about harmony and flexibility. When you look a little deeper, though, you'll find that these two workouts do provide some similar benefits -- and might actually prove a good combination if you want to achieve cardiovascular health, above-average flexibility and good muscle definition.
This is one area where yoga might get the upper hand. Boxing is mostly an upper-body workout, engaging the muscles of the arms, chest, shoulders and neck. Ashtanga yoga, on the other hand, offers a full-body workout. The muscles of the upper and lower body, including the abs, are engaged during the different poses. Boxing might be more effective at helping to develop strength and muscle definition, while yoga is good for muscle tone and flexibility.
The gentler forms of yoga, such as Ashtanga yoga, are not meant to be aerobic. They consist of soft movements and holding of postures for long periods of time. As a result, your heart rate might never be significantly elevated during the whole hour you're practicing. A boxing workout, on the other hand, is highly aerobic. Not only are you constantly "bouncing" and adjusting your body positioning, but you're also engaging your arms continuously into punching and defensive movements. This helps improve your endurance, stamina and speed, according to Club One Fitness.
Since a boxing workout is not a contact workout -- you don't actually fight with anybody -- the risks are minor. If you don't properly wrap your hand or learn how to hit the punching bag, there's a small risk you could injure your wrist, but there isn't much more to fear. Yoga also carries small risks, as long as you follow the teacher's instructions carefully and don't push beyond your limits. Forcing a stretch or a pose could result in pulling a muscle or soreness.
A boxing workout doesn't burn as many calories as a real boxing match would, but the numbers are still very impressive. A 155-pound person burns about 633 calories per hour of sparring -- that is, practicing boxing moves with a partner. If your boxing workout involves punching the bag, the calorie burn goes down to about 422 calories per hour. Hatha yoga -- one of the most common types of yoga -- burns just 175 calories per hour. Ashtanga yoga or power yoga burns about 300 calories per hour -- better, but still not as impressive as boxing.
Tammy Dray has been writing since 1996. She specializes in health, wellness and travel topics and has credits in various publications including Woman's Day, Marie Claire, Adirondack Life and Self. She is also a seasoned independent traveler and a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. Dray is pursuing a criminal justice degree at Penn Foster College.