Much of the practice of yoga is about awareness of breath and breathing. But does that make it an aerobic or anaerobic exercise? To answer this question, we need to explain what makes an activity aerobic or anaerobic. Then we’ll tell you why yoga doesn’t quite fit into either of these two definitions.

Yoga is neither aerobic or anaerobic. This is because the practice of yoga is about presence and awareness — not about raising your heart rate to burn calories, or pushing your limits to increase muscle mass. Some high-intensity forms of yoga can be considered Aerobic.

Asana, or the physical postures practiced in a typical yoga class, is just the superficial part of yoga. Weight loss and toned muscles are a bonus by-product of yoga but are not the goal of this ancient practice.

What is Aerobic Exercise?

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, aerobic exercises use large muscle groups and adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is released from the cells. 

Oxygen is needed via respiration as an energy source for aerobic exercises. This is why it’s important to keep steady breaths during aerobic activities.

Examples Of Aerobic Exercises Include:

What is Anaerobic exercise?

Anaerobic exercises do not require inhaled oxygen as a source of energy like aerobic exercises do. They consist of intense physical activities of short durations or bursts.

The fuel for anaerobic exercises come from the muscles themselves and their internal energy reserves. 

Some Anaerobic Exercises are:

Why Isn’t Yoga Exercise?

Although yoga is being prescribed by more and more doctors and psychologists for health reasons, and yoga is the fastest growing fitness activity in countries like Australia, it is not intended to be a fitness or weight loss exercise program.

Yoga has its origins as a spiritual practice in India where ancient manuscripts show that it was practiced by many religions, most obviously Hindus, but even Buddhists and Jains have yoga roots.

Yoga in the modern world is promoted for its many physical benefits but it does not meet the minimum intensity for moderate exercise. Especially the practice of Hatha Yoga which is made up of long holds in various asana.


Yoga is neither an aerobic or anaerobic exercise because it does not burn as many calories as aerobics does and it does not put as much strain on your muscles as heavy lifting does.

But yoga will help with respiratory health due to its focus on the breath. It will also help strengthen and make muscles more flexible by using your own body weight (a yoga mat helps protect your joints from hard floor, and provides a space to practice)

While some forms of high-intensity yoga may be considered an aerobic exercise as you breathing and heart rate while you breathe in more oxygen to feed the muscle.

Yoga typically is not an aerobic or anaerobic exercise activity in itself, but it has many health benefits that cannot be denied. The underlying purpose to calm the mind through asana and prepare it for meditation should not be forgotten.