If you want to make yoga your primary form of exercise, you may be wondering if the calories burned during a typical session are enough to guarantee weight loss. Most yoga practitioners use yoga for its obvious benefits, such as muscle tone and core stability improvement, strength building and stress reduction. They then use another form of cardio activity, such as swimming, cycling or walking, as their primary form of cardio exercise.
The amount of calories you burn in a typical yoga session can vary widely, depending upon what form of yoga you choose to practice. Fortunately, most gyms offer an exciting array of yoga classes that will improve your fitness and add variety to your routine. Here are a few of the most popular forms, and the average amount of calories you may burn during a 60-minute class:
Hatha yoga is the most familiar form of yoga for Westerners, and the kind usually taught in beginner-level classes. Hatha yoga emphasizes breath control and flowing postures. You can expect to burn 175 calories per hour, or the same amount of calories you would burn by walking 2 miles in 1 hour.
Ashtanga yoga is a little more intense than Hatha yoga, but still places emphasis on breath control and flowing postures. The typical class has a series of 6 poses that increase in difficulty. A typical Ashtanga class will burn 300 calories in 1 hour, or the same as walking 4 miles in 1 hour.
Power yoga is a Westernized form of Ashtanga yoga, which moves quickly between poses to increase your heart rate. Because of this, most classes typically last 30 to 45 minutes, rather than 60. The calories burned are approximately the same as a full 60 minute Ashtanga class.
Vinyasa yoga is usually combined with the Ashtanga form to create one dynamic class. The emphasis is placed on flowing from one pose to the next, particularly during the sun salutation. Vinyasa classes typically burn 445 calories per hour, or the same amount as jogging at a slow pace for 60 minutes.
Bikram or Hot Yoga
Bikram yoga, also known as "hot yoga," is performed in a room heated to 105 degrees and with a humidity of 40%. This guarantees that you will sweat a lot as you perform the 26 postures in a typical class. One session of bikram yoga burns 630 calories per hour, or the same as swimming the butterfly stroke for an hour.
Most practitioners who use yoga as their primary form of cardio opt for the higher-intensity classes and aim for making it to class 3 times a week, for a 90 minute session. If you want to burn calories while doing yoga, go for the more intense classes and work on "growing" or stretching into each pose constantly throughout the class.
Studies show that people who find an exercise they enjoy will stick with it and make it a part of their routines more readily than people who feel forced into exercise they don't like. If yoga is your favorite form of exercise, find ways to increase your calories burned and then make it your primary cardio routine. You will reap the added benefits of increased muscle tone, core stability and decreased stress as well as a vigorous cardio workout.