While you can definitely shed pounds doing yoga regularly, adding yoga to your workout routine isn't a guarantee you'll lose weight. Whether or not you lose weight doing yoga depends on your total daily caloric expenditure and the number of calories you eat daily.
Calories Burned Doing Yoga
The number of calories you'll expend doing yoga is based on your body weight and workout duration. If you weigh 125 pounds, you'll burn about 120 calories, and if you weigh 185 pounds you'll expend 178 calories in 30 minutes doing yoga, according to Harvard Health Publications. Bump up your workout duration to one hour and you'll burn about twice as many calories. Therefore, if your caloric intake stays constant and you add one hour of yoga to your daily routine, you should start to slowly shed pounds.
Calories Needed for Weight Loss
The number of calories you ingest is just as important, if not more so, as the number of calories you burn doing yoga. To effectively lose weight, you must burn more calories than you eat. The American Heart Association suggests that a healthy rate of weight loss is 1 pound per week, which most people can accomplish by burning off 500 more calories than they eat daily. For example, you could reduce your caloric intake by 200 calories and burn an extra 300 calories daily doing yoga for one hour, to lose about 1 pound weekly.
Yoga vs. Other Exercises
While you can lose weight by doing yoga and carefully controlling your caloric intake, you'll burn calories more quickly by choosing other forms of exercise. For example, a 155-pound person expends 149 calories doing yoga for 30 minutes, but can burn 409 calories running at a pace of 6.7 miles per hour or swimming the crawl stroke for 30 minutes, notes Harvard Health Publications. However, just because you perform higher calorie-burning workouts doesn't mean you'll lose more weight, especially if you're eating too many calories.
Best Weight-Loss Workouts
Regardless of which workout you choose, the best way to effectively lose weight and keep it off is to pick a regimen you can stick with long term. Include yoga in your weight-loss program if you wish, but switch up your workout routine regularly to include a variety of cardiovascular and strength-training exercises. The American Heart Association suggests participating in 30 to 60 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise daily and strength-training workouts at least two days a week for effective weight loss.
Reducing your caloric intake is a key component of successful weight loss, especially if yoga is your primary source of exercise. Strategies to help with calorie control include drinking water before meals, eating plenty of vegetables with each meal, keeping a food journal, and boosting your intake of healthy protein-rich foods, such as egg whites, grilled chicken breast, seafood, very lean beef, low-fat milk or soy milk, nonfat Greek yogurt, low-fat cottage cheese and legumes.
An experienced health, nutrition and fitness writer, Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian and holds a dietetics degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She also has worked as a clinical dietitian and health educator in outpatient settings. Erin's work is published on popular health websites, such as TheNest.com and JillianMichaels.com.