Working toward a leaner physique? Exercise can go a long way to boost your efforts. While both Vinyasa, or flow, yoga and traditional cardio qualify, cardio leads in calorie burning, the cornerstone of fat reduction. That said, both cardio and strength training, which includes Vinyasa, are important for weight loss. What muscle-toning lacks in immediate calorie burn it makes up for with increased lean muscle mass. Muscle requires more energy to sustain than fat, leading to long-term weight loss and maintenance.
Vinyasa is a style of yoga that uses specific postures set to a choreographed routine. Vinyasa poses do not end abruptly, but rather each pose flows into the next in one continuous motion. This style emulates natural patterns such as the lunar cycle. Vinyasa principles parallel daily life, and the exercise is viewed as a pathway to physical and mental transformation.
It's hard to match the calorie-torching capabilities of traditional cardio. Even though Vinyasa moves more quickly than other forms of yoga, it probably won't get you to the same calorie-burning range as an aerobic workout. An hour of running at 5.2 mph, a modest pace, burns 633 calories per hour if you weigh 155 pounds. At the same weight, swimming laps at a leisurely pace burns 422 calories per hour, and bicycling at a moderate pace burns 563 calories per hour. Compare that with just 281 calories per hour for the average yoga session, and the answer becomes apparent.
The Stress Factor
Calorie burning doesn't make up the whole equation here. Stress also plays a role in weight loss, in more than one way. Stress often triggers overeating, and can sway you to make poor lifestyle choices. It also causes your body to release the hormone cortisol, which in turn can make you pack on visceral fat deep in your abdominal region. This not only increases your waist size, but also encourages chronic diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Both yoga and traditional cardio provide relief from stress; however, you may find one more relaxing than the other, making it a superior choice.
Even with the toughest cardio routine, you won't drop a pound unless you eat fewer calories than you burn. For effective weight loss, keep portion sizes moderate and build your diet around a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains such as corn tortillas and whole wheat pasta, and low-fat proteins like egg whites and cottage cheese. Skip sugary juices and sodas, relying on water to quench your thirst instead.
Nina K. is a Los Angeles-based journalist who has been published by USAToday.com, Fitday.com, Healthy Living Magazine, Organic Authority and numerous other print and web publications. She has a philosophy degree from the University of Colorado and a journalism certificate from UCLA.