Yoga is an age-old practice that is known to be therapeutic and relaxing. However, most modern yoga poses and routines on the internet will have you shaking and turn you into a sweaty mess in no time.
While some yoga styles such as Yin and Restorative Yoga are restful and relaxing, other more intense forms of yoga such as Bikram, Vinyasa, or Hatha can be aggressive fat-burning workouts.
Let’s get into how many calories you can burn with yoga and which style is most efficient for your goals.
How Many Calories Does Yoga Burn?
Generally, within one session of fat-torching yoga, you can burn 180 to 460 calories. The actual energy consumption, however, depends on:
- the yoga style you pick
- how intense are your workouts
- how long a session lasts
- flow: fast or slow
- every individual’s unique metabolism, height, weight, genetics, etc.
Think of an average person who weighs approximately 160 lbs. In a one-hour yoga class, this person will torch some 183 calories.
Even though yoga offers a myriad of health benefits, the essence of the practice is not and has never been weight loss.
That’s not to say the yoga you practice routinely can’t be leveraged to burn calories, but that’s only possible when you turn the intensity of your workouts up several notches.
Want to know how you can increase the intensity and what styles to try? Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of yoga for calorie burning.
Bikram yoga is a type of hot yoga performed in a hot room heated to 105°F at 40% humidity. Typically, it consists of 26 poses done over 90 minute-long Bikram classes.
These poses are extremely challenging as they put your balance, flexibility, stamina, and strength to the test. The heated room adds to the challenge of this style.
In 2014, a study concluded during a single Bikram session, men burned about 460 calories, and women burned approximately 330 calories. This means that, on average, people burn 4.4 calories every minute of a Bikram session!
This yoga style is slightly less intense than Bikram yoga, mainly because it doesn’t require you to stay in a hellishly hot room for an hour and a half.
In Vinyasa yoga, you shift swiftly from pose to pose to coordinate your breathing. The key here is to take just one breath for every move you perform.
While it doesn’t require a sauna-like environment, Vinyasa flow yoga, like Bikram, is hot yoga. Couple constant motion with intense bodyweight exercises, and you’ll be breaking a sweat in no time.
The American Council on Exercise states that for every 50 minutes of a Vinyasa yoga class, people burn an average of 144 calories. This is the same for Hatha yoga (more on that in a bit), and in a power yoga session, the average calories burned equals 237 calories.
Technically, any yoga style that doesn’t involve stillness and holding poses for long periods can be considered Hatha. However, when you hear people talk about Hatha, they mean soft and slow flow yoga.
Hatha classes comprise a series of slow movements and stretches. Like Vinyasa, in this yoga style, you must be attentive to your breathing, but as opposed to one breath per pose, you’re allowed to breathe more freely.
As mentioned initially, restorative yoga is meant for therapy, healing from injury, or simple relaxation. Therefore, it’d be silly to expect restorative yoga to burn through your fat like the other hot yoga styles listed above.
If you’re still intrigued, an hour-long session will allow a 150-pound person to burn 68 calories— an average of 1.1 calories each minute.
Yoga for Weight Loss?
Cool, now that you know how many calories each yoga style burns, you may be asking, “will yoga help me lose weight?”
The principle of weight loss is simple: the calories you burn should be more than the calories you consume, thereby creating a calorie deficit. Ever heard the phrase calories in versus calories out thrown around; this is what it means.
So eating fewer calories, burning more calories, or doing both, will help you lose weight.
Admittedly, other exercises can be more efficient for weight loss than yoga, such as strength training, high-intensity interval training, cardio dancing (e.g., Zumba), etc.
However, many of these workouts lack yoga’s meditative and mindful qualities.
In a study conducted in 2016, researchers discovered that frequent yoga practitioners were less likely to stress eat and displayed more mindfulness at mealtimes. This was accredited to reduced stress and anxiety through regularly practicing yoga.
Another plus for yoga: you’ll be able to find loving and supportive communities that will cheer you on your weight loss journey and make it that much easier.
So if losing weight is a goal you’re working toward, practicing yoga will help you lose weight by:
- steering you away from unhealthy foods
- helping you find better ways of coping with stress or other negative emotions
- helping you connect with your body so that you can distinguish hunger from mere cravings
- alleviating chronic pain, especially in the joints, that might have held you back from trying other exercises
- boosting your overall health and well-being
Yoga Leads to Better Sleep, and Better Sleep Promotes Fat Loss
A survey from 2013 which questioned over 1000 Americans who regularly practiced yoga revealed that 68.5 % of the participants vouched for improved sleep after bedtime yoga.
This empirical evidence suggests that sleep deprivation makes your body store fat for longer.
Yoga and Weight Maintenance
Weight management is arguably simpler than weight loss— as long as you keep up an active lifestyle, you’ll be able to keep in shape, and your heart will be in good health. So do whatever exercise you enjoy, as long as you stay consistently active.
Given how it’s both relaxing yet challenging and burns some serious calories, Yoga can be a practical way to prevent weight gain as you age.
To sum it all up, yoga can make for some extreme fat-torching workouts depending on what style you opt for. It can also be incorporated into your fitness routine, and its benefits can most definitely reap weight loss.
Out of the many yoga styles we mentioned in this list, Bikram yoga burns the most calories in one session. Vinyasa is a close second. Restorative yoga burns calories, but that’s not what it’s meant for, so don’t expect to see quick results.
If you’re looking to lose weight through yoga, remember that you must burn more calories than you consume. Some other workouts might be more energy-consuming than yoga, but the latter is still a good alternative.
Finally, the fitness routine that is best for you is the one you stick to; consistency is the key, and if you work hard and stay focused, you’ll see results in no time. Good Luck!