Hold up — yoga’s supposed to be relaxing, right? Sometimes, sure. But it can also be a fat-torching workout.
Take a deep breath and dive in.
How many calories does yoga burn?
A single yoga session torches anywhere from 180 to 460 calories, depending on:
- the type of yoga
- the level of intensity
- the class length
- whether it’s a fast or slow flow
- personal health factors (metabolism, height, weight, genetics, etc.)
Here’s how many that same person would burn doing other things:
|Activity (1 hour)||Calories burned|
|sitting at a computer||108|
|walking casually (2 miles per hour)||145|
|jogging (5 miles per hour)||653|
Yoga is brimming with health perks (more on that later), but it’s not exactly designed for weight loss.
Interested in which types of yoga will help you feel the burn? Let’s get down to the details.
Technically, “Bikram yoga” refers to just one type of hot yoga. Yoga done in a hellishly hot room isn’t always Bikram.
True Bikram yoga is a series of 26 poses done in a room heated to 105°F at 40 percent humidity. The session lasts 90 minutes.
Bikram postures test your balance, flexibility, and strength. And the sauna-like environment makes it feel more challenging than it is.
A small 2014 study found that men burned about 460 calories during a Bikram session and women burned around 330 calories. That’s an *average* of 4.4 calories per minute for humans in general.
In Vinyasa yoga, you transition smoothly from one pose to another in coordination with your breathing. Just remember to take one breath per movement.
Vinyasa flow yoga is a hot workout but without the atmosphere of a furnace. The combo of motion and bodyweight poses (planks, planks, did we mention planks?) will have you breaking a sweat.
According to the American Council on Exercise, people burn an average of 144 calories in a 50-minute Hatha or Vinyasa class. And a power yoga class burns an average of 237 calories.
In a small 2017 study, researchers found that folks burned slightly *fewer* calories during 1 hour of Vinyasa yoga than they did during an hour of brisk walking.
Technically speaking, any yoga involving movement could be considered Hatha. But when most people say “Hatha,” they mean gentle flow yoga.
Hatha yoga classes usually involve a slow sequence of poses and stretches. This style of yoga is breath-based like Vinyasa but with more than one breath per movement.
A 155-pound person burns about 149 calories in a 30-minute Hatha yoga class. That’s about 5 calories per minute.
If a 150-pound person lies down quietly for an hour (aka restorative yoga), they’d burn about 68 calories. That’s 1.1 calories per minute.
Our comparisons are a bit imperfect since some studies break down calorie counts for men and women whereas others break them down by body weight.
Take it with a grain of salt, but here’s a chart for the visual learners.
|Yoga type + time||Calories burned|
|Bikram, 1 hr||220 (women) / 307 (men)|
|Bikram, 30 min||110 (women) / 153 (men)|
|Vinyasa or Ashtanga, 1 hr||412|
|Vinyasa or Ashtanga, 30 min||206|
|Hatha, 1 hr||298|
|Hatha, 30 min||149|
|Restorative, 1 hr||68|
|Restorative, 30 min||34|
People lose weight by creating a calorie deficit. So, to lose weight, you need to either burn more calories or eat fewer calories (or both).
But there is something magical about yoga: the mindfulness factor.
Researchers in a 2016 study found that folks who practiced yoga tended to do less stress-eating and be more mindful at mealtime. That’s because yoga helps relieve stress and anxiety. Yoga classes also tend to foster supportive communities.
So if you’re trying to lose weight, picking up a yoga practice could help you:
- say no to unhealthy foods
- avoid using eating as a coping method for stress or other emotions
- get more in tune with your body, including when you’re hungry vs. when you’re just craving a snack
- feel better about yourself in general
- soothe back or joint pain that kept you from trying more vigorous workouts
Yoga = better sleep = fat loss
And weirdly enough, your sleep habits can influence your ability to lose or gain weight.
One study compared a group of people allowed to sleep naturally with a group not allowed to sleep fully for 5 days out of the week. When researchers limited both groups’ calorie intake, the folks who slept well lost more fat.
Lack of sleep seems to make your body hang on to fat longer.
A population-based research study in 2017 suggested that folks who practice yoga tend to have less weight gain over time than the general population.
The researchers concluded that yoga could be a practical way to maintain your weight and prevent weight gain as you get older.
Ommm, yes! There are so many incredible health benefits of yoga:
If you want to lose weight, you need to use up more calories than you take in. Yoga is just one of many ways to burn those calories.
In the end, the workout plan you stick with is the best workout plan for you. Have fun!