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Reader Request: Yoga Guilt

March 23, 2011

 I got a question a couple of days ago about whether or not I feel guilty when I do yoga instead of a more intense form of cardio. The answer is no, but it’s complicated.

I started doing Bikram Yoga because I heard how good it is for you. It makes me stretch in ways I never had before and strengthens my muscles differently that standard weight lifting ever could. And the Bikram variety, while it doesn’t keep your heart rate up constantly, does incorporate bursts of heart pumping postures. I’ve heard that one can burn 600 to 1000 calories in one 90 minute Bikram class, but I have no clue if that’s accurate. It’s a huge step for me to not know and not care  how many calories I’m burning during a workout. It makes me appreciate the class for its other benefits instead of focusing on a number.  Exercise is good for you no matter what. Even on a day that isn’t as strenuous as others, you should say to yourself “Hey! I just did something GREAT for my body!”

Standing Bow


Women tend to be cardio queens and I am just as guilty as the next girl. I could spend days on an elliptical with a magazine and definitely do my fair share of running, but weight training is something I slack on. It’s a common mindset that you’re only really accomplishing something if you’re moving constantly and sweating profusely. But we all know by now that that is not the case. Cardio is important, but strength training and flexibility are equally as valuable.

I make a point to get into the weight room a couple days a week. I am nowhere near as good as those that do Body Pump or just rock the solo weights like Julie, but I’m trying! I really wish that I could fit a class into my schedule because they are much more effective for me than when I strength train on my own. Right now I try to do a variety of arm exercises and some leg strengthening that is important for my running. Yoga doesn’t always fit into the strength training category, but Bikram definitely works my muscles.  It is hard in a totally different way than any form of cardio or weight lifting.

Triangle Pose


I think the hard part comes when you’re really trying to lose weight. Luckily I’m not right now so it’s easier for me to set aside days for yoga. When you’re in weight-loss mode it can seem like cardio is the only way to go. Even if you’re not in weight-loss mode, after a couple of days of not-so-healthy eating or one too many cookies after dinner our immediate response is “cardio cardio cardio!” My advice for this is to remember that our health and weight is not just about one day, but instead about the whole of our decisions. Just because you ate something tonight doesn’t mean you have to run it off tomorrow. You can treat your body to some yoga or weights, get in some cardio later in the week, and it will all balance out.

  • Do you experience guilt when you do yoga or a “less intense” form of exercise?
  • Are you a cardio queen or do you prefer weights?


On that note, I had a super intense Bikram class this morning. I don’t know if it’s just the warmer temps, but classes have been extra hot lately! But what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, right?


Love this new shirt from Urban. It combines two spring trends – lace and stripes.

And my final pair of new Naturalizers are the “Lennox”. I have one pair of black pumps – a low heel pointy toed pair – but these are a bit more fashionable!

Platform heels that are comfortable? Yes please!


Extra delicious today.


Half-way through the week! Can’t wait to hear your insights about Yoga-Guilt (and how to avoid it!)

17 Comments leave one →
  1. March 23, 2011 10:17 am

    this is a great post. I LOVE Bikram 🙂 Sometimes I feel a little guilty just because I am a cardio queen, but like you said, “it’s not all about one day.” I do yoga for myself. I love it and it destresses me 🙂 Ps you are gorgeous. Love the outfit!

  2. March 23, 2011 10:21 am

    Love the new header image! Very clean.

  3. March 23, 2011 10:38 am

    I wish I was a cardio queen, but cardiovascularly, I am in such poor shape. I tend to barely get 20 pathetic minutes in of cardio before I race over to the weights. I love love love lifting, and I hate hate hate cardio. It’s not my fault, it’s my heart (<- there's a blog post).

  4. March 23, 2011 10:38 am

    Love this post because it’s something I struggle with! I don’t want to say I’m “addicted” to cardio because boarderline exercise addiction has been a problem of mine in the past, but I do sometimes feel guilty on off days, days when I skimp on a workout, and days when I’m not dripping sweat. At the same time, you can get a lot of amazing benefits from the cross training days that you’d never get otherwise. So for me it’s a constant struggle. After my half I’m going to consciously cut down on the running days and pick up on my yoga practice, because I think it’s something I need to do for my mental health as well 🙂

  5. Kelsey @ Unmitigated Grub permalink
    March 23, 2011 11:12 am

    Great post. As much as I love running and make it a priority in my life, I also want to be able to run when I’m a grandma, and I know that means not over doing it now. For me, yoga totally balances the pounding of running with gentler movements that work so many different muscles. I can feel that it’s good for my body. So I don’t feel guilty if I take a day for yoga.

    I do, however, feel guilt if I take too many days off running in one week. Sometimes life happens and I don’t get ’em in. But I like what you said about how it’s the whole of our decisions that matter, not just one bad day or week. It all balances out!

  6. March 23, 2011 12:12 pm

    I always feel like I should be doing more if I’m not super sweaty after a workout. Its like I don’t feel accomplished unless I’m sweating…it’s gross but true, haha. I’m a cardio queen trying to get into lifting.

    I love your shirt! It’s so cute:)

  7. March 23, 2011 12:26 pm

    I’ll admit – sometimes if I’m not super sweaty, I don’t feel like I worked out hard enough. I know that’s not true though. I just tend to be irrational when I talk to myself haha 😉 I really love weight lifting. Ever since I started doing it regularly, I’ve started to tell slight differences in my arms and legs in ways that I didn’t when I was just doing cardio. I like it!

  8. Lauren permalink
    March 23, 2011 12:44 pm

    I love weight lifting and it’s the only reason I wear tank tops to the gym cause I can see my muscles working! However, I’m a bit norotic in that I can’t lift without dripping sweat first from running so I always have to run 4-6 miles then lift. I also struggle with days off and the “card voice” telling me I should at least do a quick run…I need to practice on telling it to shut up! I really miss my yoga sculpt class in my old city where it was over 100 degrees and we did weights, card, and yoga! I always felt amazing after even if I felt like I was going to die during it! Oooooooh exercise. Such a complex relationship 😉

  9. Lauren permalink
    March 23, 2011 12:45 pm

    Cardio* voice

  10. Abby permalink
    March 23, 2011 1:11 pm

    I do pilates over yoga. I would like to get into yoga like once a week just for the benefits of using those muscles I’m probably not aware of! I think I have a pretty good balance of cardio and strength training but I strongly dislike strength training for lower body. I try to catch a class once a week that incorporates that for an extra push!

  11. atastelife permalink
    March 23, 2011 2:05 pm

    I used to think that Pilates wasn’t a work out because I wasn’t sweating…but now that I’ve been committed to the class for months now and see changes in my body, my balance and my flexibility I know that you don’t have to sweat to “work out.”

    And in regards to cardio vs. weights…I actually LOVE weights. I love seeing definition in my arms. But I try to do 2 days of weights (one sculpt class and one morning on my own) and then 2 days dedicated to cardio (one day on my own and one day cycle). One of the other days I do a 60 minute pilates class and my other day is a “wild card” – whatever I feel like doing. Once you get comfortabling “lifting” – you’ll love it!

  12. March 23, 2011 2:10 pm

    What a great question! no guilt for me though – Bikram yoga is HARD! if I run three times a week and hit the yoga twice then I’m pretty pumped. In fact I’d take Bikram over an elliptical any day (mainly because I can’t stand more that 30 mins of elliptical training). I’m not sure I’d feel the same about regular yoga though. And I’m certain weights at the gym would be a lot healthier for my bank account..

  13. March 23, 2011 2:53 pm

    I think it’s great you have learned to do what is good for you and not necessarily a huge cardio workout, yanno?
    I go through phases- right now I am in a cardio phase, but I’ll pick up the weights again soon.

  14. March 23, 2011 9:16 pm

    totalllyyyy cardio queen. I wish i liked weights more!
    Now that im sidelined from running temporarily i am trying VERY hard to go to the gym and do weights. IM SO BORED with free weights at home!
    Its working better then when i was running because now i dont really have an excuse or something i prefer doing!
    Yoga on the other hand i just cant seem to get in to for reasons i just dont understand!

  15. March 23, 2011 10:22 pm

    I am SO glad you addressed this. I used to feel so guilty for “just” doing yoga instead of something more intense (like Body Pump or spin class) but now I find ways to work it into my week. Like since today I went running, tomorrow I may do yoga. I love yoga and never want to feel guilty about it, but I do if I had planned on doing something else. I wish it wasn’t that way though because yoga is so great and I am definitely going to keep incorporating it!!

  16. Natalie permalink
    March 24, 2011 7:11 am

    Thanks for posting this 🙂 As I already told you, I am a cardio queen ESPECIALLY if I am feeling guilty about eating a little more than usual, which I know is not healthy way to think but it is a cycle I’ve been stuck in forever. Lately I am trying to listen to my body. When I took a bikram class on Saturday instead of my usual 5 mile run, it really helped my muscles. I also forgot how empowering hot yoga feels! Something that we tend to forget (and especially those of us overcoming/struggling with eating issues) is that we need to do what we enjoy. That way we stay physically active whether it comes in the form of yoga or Body Pump classes. For me, I’d rather do yoga for strength training than lift weights for an hour at the gym. To each their own!

  17. Elly permalink
    March 26, 2011 7:00 pm

    I completely agree that people tend to place too much emphasis on cardio for weight loss. What I think many people do not realize is that weights/strength training is equally important for weight loss (as well as for maintaining a healthy weight of course.) Doing strength training speeds up metabolism and has an “after-burn” effect where your body is revved up after the strength-training and it burns more calories at a resting state than it does without strength training. It also tones and reshapes the muscles so that if one is trying to lose weight, it helps to change the shape of the body, creating lean body mass, muscle definition, and just making it overall more toned. I’m not concerned with weight loss and I know you aren’t either, but strength-training should not have a reputation among women! No it does not make us bulky! It is sexy!!

    Last year I started taking a twice a week strength class at my university’s gym and it has made me feel so much stronger and I definitely see a difference in my muscles! I feel super good and strong when I incorporate strength into my exercise routine. And LOOOOVE the yoga!!! It is perfect to stretch out my muscles after doing strength training because I always get tight afterwards. Anyways, the point is: strength training is awesome!! Just as good for you as cardio, just different!

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