Yoga isn’t exactly known for being a strenuous, high intensity workout. Sure, it’s a great stretch, and can help improve your flexibility, but does it really burn calories. The answer is yes, yoga does burn calories, but before we get into the hows and whys we first need to understand what yoga actually is.
What is Yoga?
Yoga comes in many different forms, but overall it is a way to use different stretches to develop balance, gain strength, improve flexibility, and relax the body by using a series of different poses and postures, and movement all while focusing on your breathing pattern. Different kinds of yoga are going to require different things from the body which I will get into in a minute, but the main goal is to move the body from one posture to another while using focused breaths.
Hatha is any yoga practice that combines poses, also known as asanas, with specific breathing techniques, called pranayamas. The ultimate goal of hata is to develop your flexibility and balance. This is a very relaxing form of yoga, and can be a great stress reliever.
Vinyasa is a fast-pace yoga style that can sometimes be known as power yoga. This practice requires you to be constantly moving. One well-known sequence used in vinyasa is the sun salutation where you move your body through a series of lunges, while bending and stretching the body. It involves many standing and seated poses as well as inversions, where the feet are above the head, such as an headstand.
Iyengar is a style developed by B.K.S Iyengar in the 1930s. This yoga guru wanted the method to use proper alignment to strengthen muscles in the body and support joints. This style used props such as blocks and straps to assist in certain poses. This kind of yoga flows through standing, seated, inversions, and backbends.
Bikram yoga was founded by Bikram Choudhury in the 1970s. This is what is also known as “hot yoga.” Yoga studios are heated to around 105 degrees to mimic the climate in Choudhury’s home in northern India. There is also a 40 percent humidity level during a Bikram session. The heat hleps to loosen muscles to deepen your stretch.
Kundalini is used to create a spiritual experience. This form of yoga calms the mind while building energy in the body by movement, breathing, and mantra chants. The session is uses 50 percent exercise, 20 percent breathing, 20 percent meditation, and 10 percent relaxation. The ultimate goal is to release energy stored in the base of the spin.
Ashtanga is probably the most physically challenging form of yoga. It has a lot of movement and poses involved in it. Each sessions will have about 70 poses which includes 10 sun salutations, backbends, and inversions. This form of yoga is for a seasoned yogi.
Calories Burned in Popular Exercises
We know that yoga, burns calories, but what is the comparison to other exercises. The burning of calories is a major factor in weight loss, but in reality, the amount of calories burned from person to person is extremely different depending on different factors. For example, a person who is overweight is going to burn more calories because they have more weight to carry around. People with a high metabolism are also going to burn more calories than someone who does not have a high metabolism. Even so, we can get a general idea of how many calories one will burn during a workout session. Here is a look at some of the most popular exercises and how many calories they burn.
At rest, a person can burn 1 to 1.5 calories per minute or 45 to 68 in 45 minutes.
A person walking at a leisurely pace of 2 miles per hour will burn between 2 to 5 calories per minute or 90 to 225 in 45 minutes.
A brisk walk at 4 miles per hour will burn 4.6 to 10 calories per minute, or 207 to 450 in 45 minutes.
Running at a pace of 6.7 miles per hour will burn 9 to 19 calories per minute, or 406 to 855 in an hour.
Burning Calories in Yoga
In a gym, a normal yoga class will last approximately 45 minutes. If you wanted to burn 800 calories in that 45 minutes, the exercise would have to be as difficult and strenuous as running at 6.7 miles per hour. Chances are that is not the case, but let’s look at some research. In 2005 and 2007, two different studies were done to measure the metabolic rate of people in a beginner’s yoga class. It was found that peopled burned between 2.3 and 3.2 calories per minute, which is about the same as a slow walk.
However, this is a beginning yoga class. As discussed earlier there are varying degrees of difficulty where Hatha is for beginners and Ashtanga is for the experienced. There is also Bikram, where people are exposed to a much higher temperature while doing yoga. Another study done in 2007 measured the heart rates of people doing Ashtanga yoga. In this study, it was found that the heart rate increases by over 30 beats from the resting heart rate, while a beginning yoga class only raises it by 15. It has also been concluded that Bikram yoga can help with caloric burn simply because of the increased temperature during the class.
While it is not the highest calorie burning exercise out there, doing yoga does burn calories. Whether or not the amount of calories burned will help with significant weight loss is different for every person, however the act of doing yoga can help with the motivation the doing other forms of exercise and live an overall healthier life.