It’s easy to see how Fitbit, Garmin, Polar and other fitness watches can be useful companions when tracking exercises like running or cycling. During repetitive endurance exercise, fitness trackers and smartwatches are able to monitor the pace and speed at which you move, combining it with your heart rate, oxygen level, and difficulty of your route to provide a great snapshot in numbers of how your training went.

But yoga is a little more difficult. All of the smartwatches listed above, and indeed any fitness watch worth their salt, tend to have yoga sport profiles available to them. But when you deploy your best yoga matyou don’t get the same experience as a run, and it’s much harder to measure success than your fitness tracker (even those in our best fitness tracker list) might have you believe.

You can’t break a personal best during yoga in a meaningful way that you can record on a watch. You might be able to strike a new pose that you couldn’t do before, or you might finally put your heels on the floor during downward dog, or run through the whole class without thinking once about your inbox, by feeling present for the practice. This all counts as progress on the mat.

But your watch or fitness tracker wouldn’t be able to tell you about those personal bests the way it can for runs, walks, and swimming, because it doesn’t have the technology or the language. to be able to do it. It can record your heart rate, calories burned and effort levels, but it uses the same “language” as recording a HIIT session, for example. Most watches use a generic “multisport” stat recording mode and simply label it “yoga” in your activity log. That’s about as sophisticated as it gets, although some higher-end Garmins are able to monitor your breathing during yoga flows.

Same Garmin’s strength training mode – for all its flaws – lets you set specific exercises, and its moves count sets and reps. The same goes for swimming, as many watches can now track individual movements. No watch has the ability to do this with yoga poses, and due to the variety of practice from class to class, I don’t think any handy technology ever will.

Sometimes the watch can even prove to be an unwanted distraction, especially if recording a workout means dealing with an always-on display and regular beeps. If you worry about your vital stats during yoga the same way you worry about your pace during a run, you’re not going to quite achieve the balance that most classes encourage. Yoga is often seen as a place to escape notifications: inviting them into the studio seems rude, especially if your watch is on.

Woman doing yoga with fitness tracker

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

But, provided your watch or tracker is quiet and its lighted dial doesn’t disturb other yogis, I think the sporty profile of yoga has its place on modern watches and trackers and should remain a staple.

The goal of apps like Fitbit Premium, Garmin Connect and Google Health is to become a one-stop-shop for all your health and fitness data bringing together everything from sleep to your step count, and your weight change (if you’ve got one of the best smart scales that connects to your app of choice, like the Fitbit Aria or Garmin Index models) to your activity logs.

While yoga isn’t necessarily something you can measure by heart rate and body responses alone, it’s always good to keep a log. When you look at how many exercises you did that week, your yoga session is there with the rest of your workouts. And maybe the stats aren’t impressive, but that’s not what we practice for: it’s like writing a journal about your experience, but from a physiological rather than a mental perspective. Most apps allow you to rate how you feel after a workout with a selection of smiley faces: which matches yoga’s emphasis on reflection and being with your body for the duration. of the workout.

On the other hand, like any form of exercise, logging it could allow us to see progress. If yoga leaves your heart racing and gasping for breath as you struggle to hold these challenging poses for the first time, you may see improvement by comparing your physical responses to sessions over weeks and months.

You may also see your heart rate drop, or not, during any meditation that may occur during the practice. If your stress level is still high even after those few minutes of mindfulness at the start or end of your workout, it may be worth rethinking the session, talking to your instructor, and getting to the root of the problem. .

Even if it’s just you and a yoga mat (and if you don’t have one, read our tips for choosing the right yoga mat), a fitness tracker or smartwatch can help you think things through. to your practice and record your progress. , although these records are somewhat incomplete.