Yoga, an activity that has over 300 million people doing it globally, is more than just a series of poses… it’s a holistic approach to health that combines physical postures, breathing exercises, and meditation.
While often associated with relaxation and stress reduction, yoga can also be an effective form of physical exercise that burns calories and helps with weight management.
This article explores the calorie-burning potential of yoga, comparing it with other forms of exercise, as well as providing estimates on how many calories you might burn in different types of yoga workouts.
- The total calories burned during yoga varies wildly depending on factors like individual metabolism, workout length, type of yoga and intensity.
- On average, a yoga routine might burn somewhere between 3-10 calories per minute, so a 30 minute class might burn between 90-300 calories.
- Although yoga typically burns fewer calories than activities like running/HIIT, it offers unique benefits that can make a significant impact on your physical and mental health.
Average Calories Burned During Yoga
Yoga, a practice often associated with stretching and meditation, does also burn calories.
The number of calories burned during yoga varies greatly, depending on the style of yoga, the intensity and duration of the session, and the individual’s body weight and composition.
On average, a 160-pound person can burn about 180 calories in a 60-minute basic Hatha yoga session.
This equates to approximately 3 calories per minute.
However, more intense styles like Bikram (hot) or power yoga can burn up to 600 calories per hour, which is about 10 calories per minute.
So, the average calories burned during yoga can be seen as somewhere between 3-10 calories per minute… on average.
Calories Burned Averages
Calories Burned During Different Yoga Session Lengths
A 5-minute yoga session, while short, can still burn some calories, especially if it involves a series of different poses.
If we consider the average burn rate of 3 calories per minute for a basic Hatha yoga session, a 5-minute session would burn approximately 15 calories.
For more intense styles like Bikram or power yoga, you could burn up to 50 calories in 5 minutes.
A 10-minute yoga session can burn more calories, especially if it involves more poses held for longer periods.
Based on the calculation that you can burn around 3 calories per minute, in a basic Hatha yoga session, you could burn around 30 calories in 10 minutes. For more intense styles like Bikram or power yoga, this could increase to around 100 calories.
A 30-minute yoga session can burn somewhere between 90-300 calories.
Based on the calculation that you can burn around 3 calories per minute, in a basic Hatha yoga session, you could burn around 90 calories in 30 minutes. For more intense styles like Bikram or power yoga, this could increase to around 300 calories.
A 45-minute yoga session can burn somewhere between 135-450 calories.
Based on the calculation that you can burn around 3 calories per minute, in a basic Hatha yoga session, you could burn around 135 calories in 45 minutes. For more intense styles like Bikram or power yoga, this could increase to around 450 calories.
A 60-minute yoga session can burn somewhere between 180-600 calories.
Based on the calculation that you can burn around 3 calories per minute, in a basic Hatha yoga session, you could burn around 180 calories in 60 minutes. For more intense styles like Bikram or power yoga, this could increase to around 600 calories.
Yoga routines that involve more movement are likely to burn more calories, as a general guideline to help you understand how effective certain yoga classes might be for burning calories.
Yoga for Weight Loss
Type of Yoga and Calories Burned
Different styles of yoga burn different amounts of calories. The intensity of the movements, the pace of the class, and the physical demands of the specific poses all contribute to the total calorie burn.
Below, we explore some of the major types of yoga and why they burn the amount of calories they do.
Hatha yoga is often considered a foundational style of yoga, encompassing many of the basic poses. It’s typically slower-paced and less intense than some other styles, focusing on holding poses for longer periods. This style of yoga is excellent for beginners and those looking for a more relaxed, meditative practice.
Because Hatha yoga is less intense and involves slower movements, it tends to burn fewer calories than more vigorous styles. On average, a 160-pound person can burn about 180 calories in a 60-minute Hatha yoga session. This equates to approximately 3 calories per minute.
This is quite comparable to a gentle walk.
Vinyasa yoga is a more dynamic style of yoga that involves flowing from one pose to the next in sync with your breath. This style is more demanding from a cardiovascular perspective than Hatha yoga due to the continuous movement, which keeps your heart rate elevated throughout the session.
The constant movement in Vinyasa yoga, combined with the occasional inclusion of more challenging poses, can lead to a higher calorie burn compared to Hatha yoga.
However, the exact number of calories burned can vary greatly depending on the pace of the class and the individual’s effort level, but as a rough estimate, this type of yoga might burn closer to 5 calories per minute.
Ashtanga, or power yoga, is a highly structured version of Vinyasa. It follows a traditional series of postures that is more or less the same every time. This style of yoga is physically demanding and requires strength and stamina, making it a great choice for those looking to burn more calories.
Ashtanga yoga can provide a rigorous, sweaty workout that burns a significant number of calories. However, because the sequence of poses is always the same, your body can become accustomed to the workout over time, potentially leading to a plateau in calorie burn.
To avoid this, it’s important to continually challenge yourself within the poses, such as by deepening your lunges or holding poses for longer periods.
This means Ashtanga yoga might burn between 6-8 calories per minute.
Bikram yoga, also known as hot yoga, is performed in a room heated to around 105 degrees Fahrenheit with 40% humidity. The class follows a set sequence of 26 poses and two breathing exercises. The heat and humidity increase your heart rate and metabolism, helping you burn more calories.
The combination of the heat, the challenging sequence of poses, and the class’s 90-minute duration can result in a significant calorie burn.
On average, a Bikram yoga class can burn up to 600 calories per hour, equating to 10 calories per minute.
However, it’s worth noting that Bikram yoga is intense and may not be suitable for everyone, particularly those with certain health conditions.
Yoga Vs Other Activities
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) typically burns more calories than yoga due to its high-intensity nature.
The averages will vary even more with HIIT because these types of workouts can include so many different movements, but you might burn somewhere around 20 calories per minute during a 20 minute HIIT workout (400 in total).
HIIT involves short bursts of intense exercise followed by brief periods of rest or lower-intensity exercise. This style of workout is known for its ability to burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time. Les Mills+ workouts would be a good example of this.
But, while HIIT workouts can lead to greater calorie burn, they also require more recovery time. On the other hand, yoga, particularly gentler styles, can be done more frequently without the need for extended recovery periods. Yoga also offers benefits such as improved flexibility and stress reduction, which are less emphasized in HIIT workouts.
Running generally burns more calories than yoga.
For example, running for 30 minutes at 6mph burns, on average, 295 calories for a 125-pound person, 360 calories for a 155-pound person, and 420 calories for a 185-pound person.
Certain types of running, such as hill sprints, will also burn more calories too.
Running is an excellent cardiovascular exercise that strengthens the heart and lungs, improves bone density, and boosts mood.
But, it can be hard on the joints and may lead to injuries if not done with proper form or without adequate recovery. Yoga can complement running by improving flexibility, balance, and strength, particularly in the core and lower body.
Cycling or spin classes also tend to burn more calories than yoga.
For instance, 30 minutes of moderate-intensity stationary biking burns about 210 calories for a 125-pound person, 252 calories for a 155-pound person, and 292 calories for a 185-pound person.
Cycling is a low-impact exercise that is easy on the joints and can be adapted to various fitness levels. It’s an excellent way to improve cardiovascular fitness and lower body strength. Yoga can complement cycling by improving flexibility, particularly in the hip flexors and hamstrings, and core strength, which can enhance cycling performance.
Lifting weights also burns more calories than a typical yoga class, with a caloric expenditure of about 1.5 times that of yoga.
Weightlifting is excellent for building muscle mass, which can increase your resting metabolic rate and help you burn more calories even when you’re not exercising.
Weightlifting primarily focuses on physical strength, while yoga provides a more holistic approach that includes flexibility, balance, and mindfulness.
Incorporating yoga into a weightlifting routine can help improve flexibility, reduce the risk of injury, and enhance mind-muscle connection.
Some weightlifting apps will provide estimates on calories burned during your workouts to give you better insights.
Pilates, like yoga, focuses on flexibility, balance, and core strength. The number of calories burned in Pilates can vary, depending on the intensity of the workout and the individual’s weight and muscle mass.
A moderate-intensity Pilates workout can burn more calories than a gentle yoga session but may burn fewer calories than a vigorous yoga class.
Pilates is excellent for improving core strength, posture, and body awareness. Like yoga, it also emphasizes the mind-body connection. The two practices can complement each other well, with Pilates focusing more on core strength and stability and yoga focusing more on flexibility and balance.
Comparing Apples with Oranges
Is Yoga Good for Weight Loss/Management?
While yoga may not burn as many calories as some other forms of exercise, it can still be an effective tool for weight loss and management. The key lies in yoga’s holistic approach to health and wellbeing.
Firstly, yoga can increase your mind-body connection, which can lead to better awareness of your body’s hunger and satiety cues. This increased mindfulness can help you make healthier food choices and avoid overeating.
Secondly, yoga can help reduce stress and improve mood. Chronic stress has been linked to weight gain and difficulty losing weight, as it can lead to hormonal imbalances and promote behaviors like emotional eating. By helping to manage stress, yoga can support healthier eating habits and weight management.
Thirdly, yoga can contribute to a more active lifestyle and help increase your overall daily calorie burn. Even gentler styles of yoga can help improve strength, flexibility, and balance, which can enhance your performance in other physical activities.
Beyond Calories – Benefits of Yoga
While calorie burn is an important aspect of weight management and overall health, yoga offers a multitude of benefits that extend beyond calorie burning.
One of the key benefits of yoga is its ability to improve flexibility and balance. Regular yoga practice can help lengthen and stretch your muscles, increase your range of motion, and improve your balance, which can help prevent injuries and improve performance in other physical activities.
Yoga is also known for its stress-reducing benefits. The practice encourages mindfulness and present-moment awareness, which can help reduce anxiety and promote a sense of calm. This can have positive effects on mental health and overall quality of life.
Furthermore, yoga can help improve strength, particularly core strength. Many yoga poses require you to engage your core muscles, which can lead to improved posture and reduced back pain.
Yoga can also have positive effects on cardiovascular health. While it may not be as cardio-intensive as running or cycling, certain styles of yoga, like Vinyasa or Ashtanga, can get your heart rate up and contribute to cardiovascular fitness.
Yoga, while not the most calorie-intensive exercise, offers a holistic approach to health and fitness.
The calories burned during yoga vary based on the style, intensity, duration, and the individual’s weight. More vigorous styles like Vinyasa, Ashtanga, or Bikram can burn significantly more calories than gentler styles like Hatha.
While yoga may burn fewer calories than activities like HIIT, running, or cycling, it offers unique benefits such as improved flexibility, balance, and stress reduction.
Regular yoga practice can support weight loss and management by promoting mindfulness, reducing stress, and contributing to a more active lifestyle.