Should I Do Yoga Before or After a Workout (Cardio & Strength Training)?

If you’re trying to improve your strength and fitness, lose weight, or simply enjoy the many health benefits associated with moving more, you might be looking to introduce more exercise into your routine. If you’re considering implementing yoga alongside a cardio and/or strength training routine, it’s definitely a good idea.

After all training in yoga can improve your muscle mass, strength, balance, and stamina. But if you want to combine the two, you might find yourself asking:

Should I do yoga before or after a workout?

The answer to this question is exactly what we are discussing in this post. Keep reading to find out whether it’s better to do yoga before or after a cardio or strength training workout and what the benefits are.

Should I Do Yoga Before Or After a Workout?

For the best results, you should do yoga after a cardio or strength training workout. Some people might worry that they will be too tired to do this.

As long as you’re not completing a marathon or planning on doing a super intense form of yoga, a yoga session can be exactly what your body needs to transition from an active phase to a resting phase.

Why Is It Better to Do Yoga After a Workout?

Most people remember to warm up when exercising, but an equally important part of any exercise routine, cooling down, is often overlooked. If you’ve just finished a high-energy HIIT session, stretching out in cat-cow will feel amazing.

Plus, it can help your body transition from high activity to low activity without putting excessive strain on any of your muscles. Keep in mind, there are some benefits to doing yoga before a workout as well.

However, it’s a better tool for cooling down and relaxing after a workout, rather than getting fired up beforehand. Some forms of yoga aren’t very physically demanding, so performing them before a workout in place of an adequate warm-up could leave you open to injury.

Benefits of Yoga After a Workout

While there are plenty of general benefits to practicing yoga, some advantages are specific to the act of performing yoga post workout. Let’s review them.

Improved Recovery Times

We’ve all been there. You’ve committed to a particularly intense session of lifting heavy weights or gone on a longer run than usual, and you’re feeling the effects.

Whether it’s delayed onset muscle soreness or simply feeling exhausted, there’s nothing worse. And, it impedes your ability to continue working out.

Here’s the good news. Doing a yoga session after your workout can actually decrease your recovery time. Part of what causes soreness after weight lifting, for example, is a breakdown of muscle fibers.

Yoga can help these fibers repair more quickly because it increases the flow of blood and oxygen into your tissues. Back in grade school gym class, your gym teacher probably told you that stretching before class gave you the best chance of recovering afterward. But in reality, stretching afterwards is actually more effective.

Slowdown Your Heart Rate

If you’ve ever done a HIIT session or been on a run, you’ll know that your heart can feel like it’s pumping out of your chest afterward. While this is great for building stamina, you will need to slow your heart rate down to a normal pace once your session is over. Yoga provides an easy way to do so.

After all, jumping straight in the shower with a racing heart isn’t the best idea. It can lead to dizziness and feeling faint. Slowly bringing your body to a resting position is the goal after a workout.

Many yoga poses and the deep breathing associated with them engage your parasympathetic nervous system, also known as our body’s rest and digest system. Engaging your parasympathetic nervous system is great for making you feel calmer and more relaxed. This can also help if you do your workouts late in the evening, and don’t want them to impact your sleep.

Improved Flexibility

Yoga is known for its ability to help yogis become more flexible, which happens as a result of regular stretching. But do you know when the best time to perform stretches is? When your muscles are already warm (like after a workout).

Regularly holding yoga poses after your workouts can help you become more flexible and allow you to hold more complex positions.

Lower Cortisol

Cortisol is a useful hormone when you’re running away from a bear, for example. But sometimes cortisol can be released too frequently, which can lead to chronic stress and inflammation.

Very intense workouts can sometimes cause cortisol to rise, which causes long-term issues when it isn’t brought back down to normal levels. So next time you’ve been doing a particularly strenuous workout, avoid any potential long term effects by lowering your cortisol levels with the help of yoga and breathwork.

How Long Should You Practice Yoga After a Workout?

There’s no rule for how long you need to practice yoga after a workout, but aim for long enough to enjoy the benefits. If you’re feeling tired after a strenuous workout, there’s no need to do a 30 minute yoga session afterward. Aim for at least 10 minutes of yoga after your workout to fully feel the benefit of stretching your muscles and cooling down.

If you do have longer to spare, doing a yoga session that lasts around 20-30 minutes can really benefit your recovery and flexibility. Depending on how much energy you have left after cardio or strength training can affect the type of yoga you want to do.

If you only worked out for a short period and you still have plenty of energy left, you might want to do a more energetic session, featuring lots of flow and plenty of movement. If you’re feeling burnt out, some static stretches and relaxing savasana will do the job.

Should I Do Yoga Before or After Strength Training?

You should do yoga after strength training to enjoy the full benefits, such as cooling down and stretching out tired muscles. You can do yoga before strength training too, but it’s much more effective once your weight lifting session has ended.

The biggest reason for this is that yoga stretches out your muscle fibers, reducing their ability to contract. The act of contraction is actually what increases muscle mass.

If your muscles are unable to contract as effectively, you won’t be building muscle as well as you would have done otherwise. If you want to do yoga before weight lifting, don’t hold your poses for too long or you’ll strain your muscles.

Should you do yoga before or after a workout?

Can I Do Yoga Before a Workout?

Doing yoga before a workout is certainly an option. This is especially beneficial if you plan on doing a particularly intense cardio session after. However, in this case it might be unlikely you’ll have much energy left.

Doing yoga before a workout can ease you into your workout in a way that doesn’t feel too challenging. You won’t burn out before you even get started.

It can also help you to warm up, which prevents injury and allows blood and oxygen to get to your muscles more easily. If you do decide to use yoga as a warm-up, remember to opt for a more vigorous style, such as a vinyasa flow.

Avoid doing static stretches or hatha yoga and then jumping straight into a workout. You will not have adequately warmed up your muscles beforehand.

If you do take on a more vigorous form of yoga, remember not to approach it too intensely. You want to have energy left for your main workout.

In general, yoga can certainly can be done before a workout and is an option on those days when you feel like easing into your cardio or strength training session. However, yoga’s results are more effective when you practice after your workout has finished.

Can I Do Only Yoga for Exercise?

Yoga can be done on its own and certainly doesn’t need to come before or after another workout. If cardio and strength training are more high intensity than you’re looking for, yoga provides a great substitute.

If you combine yoga with plenty of walking and healthy eating, it can be a great way to maintain or improve your physical health. Yoga boasts tons of health benefits, such as improved strength and stability, increased muscle mass, and even weight loss if that’s your goal.

If you want to focus your exercise routine around yoga, but don’t want to get bored consider trying different types of yoga such as hot yoga, hatha yoga, and vinyasa yoga. While yoga can act as a substitute for other forms of exercise, it’s best to do it as regularly as possible to start seeing real results.

Aim to practice yoga at least 3 times per week for at least 20 minutes at a time, but remember to leave one day per week for recovery. If you’d still like to do some form of activity on your recovery days, try walking or some light stretching.

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Remember that the benefits of yoga, such as improved balance and strength, can support you in other types of exercise too. You may find that starting a regular yoga practice allows you to perform better at other physical activities.

Now you know whether to do yoga before or after your workout.

While yoga before a workout is an option, it’s much more effective to schedule your yoga session after you’ve finished your cardio or strength training workout. That way you can enjoy all of the benefits that come with yoga after a workout, such as improved exercise recovery and flexibility.

Finally before I sign off, if you are looking for simple yoga workouts you can incorporate with your workout routine this bundle of 20 minute online yoga classes is perfect!

You get simple yoga exercises created by a RYT-200 yoga instructor and Cornell trained wellness counselor. And, you can regularly incorporate these yoga videos into a busy schedule.