Fast-Paced Sun Salutations Are My New Favorite Low-Impact Cardio

Getty Images / aluxum / Cristian Baitg Schreiweis

Slow and smooth Sun Salutations, set to a soundtrack of soft acoustics, is what initially got me interested in what yoga could do for my mental and physical health. I was in college, in the midst of endless midterm papers, and the practice did wonders for my stress levels. I still turn to Sun Salutations when I need a minute to reset, but recently I’ve been experimenting with picking up my pace during the series of poses.

Fast-paced Sun Salutations raise my heart rate, get me sweating, and properly warm up my body for a tough workout ahead without irritating my joints. According to CorePower Yoga Los Angeles Area Leader Ryan Marks, Sun Salutations set to a faster pace can be considered a form of low-impact cardio, too.

“Cardio is anything that raises your heart and breathing rates, and improves the function of your heart, lungs, and circulatory system,” Marks says. “With deep breaths, repetitive and quick movements, and postures that switch the position of your head above your heart, and vice versa, we can accomplish all the above.”

On top of igniting your circulatory system, Marks says that fast-paced Sun Salutations can help you stay in the present, as you’re connecting your movement with your breath. “By cultivating a deeper breath, moving faster, increasing the amount of times you do them and not stopping between salutations, you can really tap into your cardiovascular system.”

Try flowing through faster-paced Sun Salutations for yourself – and get a burst of low-impact cardio. Since Sun Salutations can be viewed as a warmup and a cooldown, Marks suggests beginning at a slower pace and also slowing down toward the end of the set: “think of it like a bell curve,” Marks adds.

In the series below, Marks also removed Chatarunga and replaced it with High Plank for a lower-impact option. While breathing deeply, Marks suggests complete 15-21 rounds of Sun Salutations – always taking breaks as you need.

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