Yoga & endurance training, how to benefit from both!

In the last blog post FINDING THE IDEAL COMBINATION OF YOGA, ENDURANCE- AND STRENGTH TRAINING, I explained the basic advantages of each sport. Today I want to focus on the right combination of just yoga and endurance training.

The Yoga practice cannot replace good endurance training.

In slower yoga and in static yoga, the demands on the cardiovascular system are usually too low and often interrupted by breaks. Theoretically, you can practice a very dynamic yoga style in such a way that the pulse rises strongly enough. From a practical point of view, however, such a practice would not be recommended to anyone. The stress on the joints and the back would be too much. The movement sequences in yoga are complex and it is almost impossible to perform them long enough with the right attention necessary for a safe practice.

Endurance training can benefit from a good yoga practice,

since on the one hand the muscles used in the respective training are stretched well and on the other hand the less stressed or stabilizing muscles are strengthened. With yoga, muscles can be stretched and regenerated, which are stressed in endurance sports such as running and cycling. The hips are opened through special asanas (many people have problems in this area through long periods of sitting and one-sided training), which enables a better pace when running and a higher cadence when cycling.

Yoga can also be a good strength training.

You will probably not develop pronounced muscles, but all the deep muscles, the muscles of the trunk as well as the upper arms and shoulder girdle can be strengthened very well. For this, however, a dynamic, strenuous yoga practice is necessary. Yin or restorative yoga, which only focusses on passive stretching, will not help to train the muscles adequately.

This is the ideal training plan per week:

  • 2-4 times a week a running unit or another endurance sport with a training-effective time (60-90% of the HRmax) of approx. 75-100 minutes excluding walking in and out.
  • 2-4 yoga units per week with more dynamic Vinyasa or Ashtanga yoga units in which strengthening, complex and coordinative movements are performed. Here, the main focus should be placed on muscle parts that are neglected in special endurance training. For example, a strong back focus should be included for runners as well as extensive stretching exercises for the leg muscles and especially for the hamstrings.

These 4-8 units should be distributed over the week, with no strenuous endurance session combined with a strenuous yoga session on one day.

If someone is training specifically for an endurance competition, care should be taken in the weeks in the mesocycle to skip the strenuous yoga units before / during the competition phase and replace them with relaxed Yin yoga as well as meditation and breathing exercises. This promotes regeneration and helps the mental preparation for a competition. If you want to start yoga first, it is best to do so outside of the competition season.


In the next blog post I will devote myself to the topic of yoga and strength training.