The metabolic cost of hatha yoga

J Strength Cond Res. 2005 Aug;19(3):604-10. doi: 10.1519/15144.1.


To determine the metabolic and heart rate (HR) responses of hatha yoga, 26 women (19-40 years old) performed a 30-minute hatha yoga routine of supine lying, sitting, and standing asanas (i.e., postures). Subjects followed identical videotaped sequences of hatha yoga asanas. Mean physiological responses were compared to the physiological responses of resting in a chair and walking on a treadmill at 93.86 m.min(-1) [3.5 miles per hour (mph)]. During the 30-minute hatha yoga routine, mean absolute oxygen consumption (Vo(2)), relative Vo(2), percentage maximal oxygen consumption (%Vo(2)R), metabolic equivalents (METs), energy expenditure, HR, and percentage maximal heart rate (%MHR) were 0.45 L.min(-1), 7.59, 14.50%, 2.17 METs, 2.23 kcal.min(-1), 105.29 b.min(-1), and 56.89%, respectively. When compared to resting in a chair, hatha yoga required 114% greater O(2) (L.min(-1)), 111% greater O(2)(, 4,294% greater %Vo(2)R, 111% greater METs, 108% greater kcal.min(-1), 24% greater HR, and 24% greater %MHR. When compared to walking at 93.86 m.min(-1), hatha yoga required 54% lower O(2)(L.min(-1)), 53% lower O(2)(, 68% lower %Vo(2)R, 53% lower METs, 53% lower kcal.min(-1), 21% lower HR, and 21% lower %MHR. The hatha yoga routine in this study required 14.50% Vo(2)R, which can be considered a very light intensity and significantly lighter than 44.8% Vo(2)R for walking at 93.86 m.min(-1) (3.5 mph). The intensity of hatha yoga may be too low to provide a training stimulus for improving cardiovascular fitness. Although previous research suggests that hatha yoga is an acceptable form of physical activity for enhancing muscular fitness and flexibility, these data demonstrate that hatha yoga may have little, if any, cardiovascular benefit.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology*
  • Yoga*