Do Yoga Classes Work?

Do yoga classes work?

People tend to have strong opinions on yoga one way or another. They either love it and do it almost every day of the week or think it’s “not a real workout” and wouldn’t be caught dead in the yoga studio. In the end, whether yoga’s right for you depends on your goals.


Do Yoga Classes Work?:

One study tested yoga on a variety of outcomes. The researchers divided participants into 2 groups: a yoga group and a non-yoga control. Prior to the experiment all participants were tested for flexibility, muscular strength and endurance, balance, pulmonary function and fitness level. Afterwards the yoga group participated in a Hatha yoga class 3x a week for 8 weeks. The class started with 5 minutes of relaxation, 10 minutes of warm-up exercises, 35 minutes of yoga poses and 5 minutes of relaxation. The non-yoga group didn’t participate in any exercise over the 8 week period. When the groups were tested after the 8 weeks were up, the researchers found no benefits in the control group (not surprisingly). For the yoga group they found:

  • The yoga group increased their flexibility by between 13% and 35%.
  • They were able to do 6 more push-ups and 14 more curl ups, on average after the program.
  • In terms of balance, the yoga group had a 17 second increase in their 1 legged stand time.
  • However, the yoga group had no significant increase in maximal heart rate or VO2max, showing that their aerobic fitness hadn’t measurably improved.
  • Heart rate during the class was an average of 89 bpm.
  • Participants burned 144 calories, the equivalent of a slow walk.
  • In a follow-up study, power yoga was also tested. The researchers found that the power yoga class burned an average 237 calories and led to an average heart rate of 115, making it a mild aerobic workout.



If you are looking to improve your flexibility, balance, and stress levels, yoga is hard to top. Lots of people attend yoga classes nowadays with some even choosing to become yoga teachers! If this is something that interests you, visit to learn more about what’s involved. As this article suggests, yoga has some fantastic benefits and it’s well worth doing. While you’ll gain some strength doing yoga, you’re much better off lifting weights. You’ll also burn some calories, but if your goal is weight loss you’re better off looking in other directions. Finally, don’t expect to improve your cardiovascular fitness from doing yoga.

Yoga chart2

Of course, there are more intense types of yoga (like power yoga) that will burn somewhat more calories and give you more cardio, but this is likely to come at the expense of flexibility, balance and relaxation. Whether you decide to practice yoga depends on your goals. For most people, yoga is a great addition to a fitness program.



Anders, M. “Does yoga really do the body good.” ACE Fitness Matters, September/October (2005): 7-9.