This is for you if every time you take time out for yourself to work out, it just has to be yoga. Because, let's face it: yoga has it all. It's total body, body weight, breath focused, challenging, heart rate raising (hello, Camel Pose and Sun Salutations!), AND you get a nap at the end.
And while this is mostly true, if you're not hitting the gym a few times a week, you really are missing a piece of the puzzle: fast twitch muscle fibers. Yep, even the most challenging traditional yoga practice is done at a pace that means you're targeting mainly slow twitch muscle fibers.
For some necessary fitness benefits, you really do need to move a little faster - though still with control. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is just this. You move faster for short bursts, alternating with active rest, rinse and repeat for exponential benefits.
In fact, HIIT has been shown to lower LDL, raise HDL (the "good cholesterol), lower triglycerides, improve circulation (goodbye cold hands and feet!), increase EPOC (Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption) a.k.a. boost your burn for 24-48 hours, reduce inflammation as measured by HbA1c, improve cardiac function and liver fat composition in diabetics.... the list goes on and on. Some of the most helpful studies compare HIIT to what's often called "moderate continuous intensity" exercise, which energetic hatha would fall into, depending on how many Sun Salutations you include and how you do them. In short, a little HIIT means a whole lot of healthy.
And a little is the key; in fact one of the studies linked above in the badlandsyoga.com article is titled, "High-intensity interval training for health benefits and care of cardiac diseases - The key to an efficient protocol," (if not an efficient title). The shortest interval is called a Tabata - 20 second bursts of high intensity movement, alternating with 10 seconds of active rest, repeated 8 times for a total time of just 4 minutes. One of these a morning for 5 mornings or a couple in the context of a longer yoga class will rock your health game like nothing else.
When you combine the timing with yoga moves and conscious breathing, you get a truly safe rocket fuel boost for your well being, mood and long term ability to share your awesome with the world.
In our Saturday morning HiYo class, we base the practice around Sun Salutations. After a few rounds of Surya Namaskar (fancy for Sun Salutations) A, we do the first interval, high five, drink water and then Surya B, which is the one where you insert Warriors after DownDog and many people call "vinyasas," which really means "to place carefully," which we are doing the whole time. The effect is a well rounded yoga class with some fast twitch muscle fiber, cardiovascular health boosting, inflammation and excess fat blasting intervals that will reveal new things about your yoga postures - things you'll bring into your whole yoga practice. Depending on the practice, we finish with forward folds, including maha mudra during the winter for immune boosting and respiratory support, inversions and, of course, a full Savasanahhhhh!!!! Round it out with pranayam and a few minutes of seated meditation, and you've used your hour pretty darn efficiently.
Want to boost the health benefits even more? Take one of the intervals we do in HiYo Saturday and include it in your morning - it takes 4 minutes! - all week long, or 4 mornings. Ask your doc about a lipid and metabolic panel before and after doing this 6-12 weeks, change nothing else and you'll have a clear indicator of how much good you're doing.
Join us Saturdays at 10am (see schedule at momoyoga.com/BadlandsYoga for most up to date schedule and to register) and change your perspective. You're of course also welcome at our regular Healing Yoga Classes all week long! But now you know why you'd want to come to HiYo, too! See you on the mat _/|\_