Difference Between Yoga and Exercise


Main Difference

The difference between yoga and exercise is that the Yoga is a discipline aimed at integrating a person’s mental, physical, and spiritual fitness and Exercise is any physical activity that stimulates, nourishes, and strengthens the vital organs of the body.

Yoga vs. Exercise

Yoga focuses on steady postures and relaxation of muscles. The movements are controlled and slow, and the breathing is synchronized. The exercise involves repetitive movement with unsynchronized breathing. The effects of yoga and exercise are different from each other. In Yoga, the parasympathetic nervous system is involved, that counteracts the physiological effects of the sympathetic nervous system. It is responsible for dilating blood vessels, stimulating digestive secretions, slowing the heart, and constricting the pupils. In Exercise, the sympathetic nervous system is involved, that is responsible for contracting blood vessels, reducing digestive secretions, and speeding the heart. Also, it counteracts the physiological effects of the parasympathetic nervous system. Yoga produces a feeling of relaxation. Exercise produces a feeling of tiredness. Yoga focuses on proper breathing techniques, so this lead to reduced oxygen consumption. Exercise particularly results in increased oxygen consumption. Yoga results in relatively low caloric consumption. Most exercises result in moderate to high caloric consumption. That is why yogis generally consume less food than people who exercise. Yoga is an anabolic process characterized by or promoting constructive metabolism. Exercise is a catabolic process characterized by destructive metabolism. In easy words, yoga conserves energy and exercise breaks down the energy. Yoga is generally self-sufficient as it can be performed without any equipment. All a person needs is adequate space without Even a yoga mat for the poses to be performed. Exercise typically requires equipment that limits the physical activities one can do. It also limits the place where one can perform the exercise. Furthermore, Some exercises require one’s participation in partner or group activities.


Comparison Chart

a spiritual practice aimed at integrating a person’s mental physical, and spiritual fitnessany physical activity that stimulates nourishes and strengthens the vital organs of the body
Oxygen Consumption
Caloric Consumption
Physical and mental healthPhysical health

What is Yoga?

Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘yuj’ meaning to join. Yoga is the union of the body, mind, and soul. Yoga activates every cell of the body, stabilizing the mind and the body. Yoga is a spiritual practice that involves many sitting and standing exercises with breath inhaling and exhaling activities as their focus. Yoga began in India around 6,000 years ago and is based on an ancient philosophy that combines several routines and concepts. These include self-reflection, meditation, breath control, and the practice of physical postures that develop flexibility, strength, and the ability to concentrate fully. Yoga has gained popularity because of its spiritual and physical benefits. It involves the body, mind, and soul simultaneously. The exercises involved in yoga are called Asanas. A great saint and philosopher of India, Swami Vivekananda is credited for making yoga a part of western civilization, and eventually all parts of the world. Multiple branches of yoga, such as Vinyasa yoga, Hatha yoga, Pranayama, etc., are exclusively practiced by people. Through yoga, you get the opportunity to identify and connect with your true self and learn to be a selfless person. Some of the health benefits of yoga are:

  • It helps develop muscles evenly over the bone surface
  • relieves the stress on the heart
  • The workload on the respiratory system is reduced.
  • boosts the immune system by the increase in the number and functioning ability of immune cells
  • reduces stress
  • increases pain tolerance, controls over impulsive behavior and reset the biological rhythm
  • improves subjective aspects such as peace, contentment, and happiness
  • promotes better cognition through specific nostril breathing

What is Exercise?

Exercise is rapid and forceful body movements. It involves repeated actions straining the targeted muscles. Exercise refers to physical activity or exertion, which causes muscles and some vital organs in the body to become energized. People exercise for two main reasons: to have better physical health or to achieve weight loss. Also, there are other reasons, such as improving blood circulation, toning the various muscle groups, developing athletic skills, etc. the ultimate goal of exercises is to improve physical appearance or physical health. There is an increase in blood pressure, respiration rate, and metabolic rate, While performing the exercise, which leads to tension and fatigue. Exercise is concerned particularly with the physical aspect of the human body. According to the experts, many internal body organs and systems such as the respiratory system, digestive system, cardiovascular system, etc. are enriched and boosted by exercising regularly. It may help limit and ward off diseases and disorders such as cholesterol imbalance, obesity, indigestion, etc. There are many types of exercises followed and practiced by people all over the world. Some exercises engage all parts of the body at once, while some are devoted to a limited number of body parts. Activities such as swimming, skipping, jogging, sports like football, tennis, badminton, etc. are all types of exercises. Specific workouts such as aerobics, gym, dance, etc. are also other forms of exercise. Some of the benefits of exercise are:

  • maintains physical health
  • improve blood circulation
  • helpful in preventing illnesses or diseases
  • keeps unwanted weight off the body

Key Differences

  1. Yoga focuses on steady postures and relaxation of muscles with slow movements and synchronized breathing, whereas exercise involves repetitive movement with unsynchronized breathing.
  2. Yoga produces a feeling of relaxation. Conversely, exercise produces a feeling of tiredness.
  3. Yoga is the anabolic process; on the flip side, exercise is a catabolic process.
  4. The parasympathetic nervous system is involved in yoga, while the sympathetic nervous system is involved in the exercise.
  5. Yoga results in relatively low caloric consumption on the other hand, most exercises result in moderate to high caloric consumption.


Yoga and exercise both involve bodily movements helpful to maintain the health of a person. However, bodily movements of yoga and exercise are distinct from each other.

Aimie Carlson

Aimie Carlson is an English language enthusiast who loves writing and has a master degree in English literature. Follow her on Twitter at @AimieCarlson