Like all great questions, the answer to this one is multi-faceted. There are a myriad of different yoga classes out there with a massive range of activity. To help break this one down we first need to define “workout” - that definition is different for everyone but according to Mirriam-Webster, a workout is “a test of one’s ability, capacity and stamina.”
From a physiological standpoint, many yoga classes would fall under a mild to gentle exercise program. However, Yoga is absolutely a test of our physical AND mental ability, capacity and stamina. The practice is meant to challenge us on a mental and spiritual level just as much as the physical. In fact, it’s often the personal gains and internal healing that keeps us coming back to the mat. Think of your yoga practice as a “multi-vitamin” that addresses the needs of your body, mind and spirit. If you catch yourself frustrated that you aren’t getting your “workout” from a yoga class - try thinking about it as a “workout” for your mind. Training your patience and sense of calm is just as important as training your muscles. Especially when it comes to stress reduction, overall health and risk of disease.
The next time you take a yoga class ask yourself the following questions:
Do my muscles feel awake and alive? If so to what extent?
Was I mentally challenged during the class?
Am I breathing more deeply now than when I began the practice?
Was this a test of my ability, capacity and stamina?
Am I relieved of any stress I’ve been carrying?
Hopefully the answers will help clarify whether or not you can “count” your class as part of a healthy and balanced self-care routine :)
GREAT question and keep ‘em coming!
For additional reading check out: https://yogainternational.com/article/view/new-study-highlights-yogas-cardiovascular-benefits