This is a very common question and considering what we have reported above, the answer would at first seem to be that it is not a useful tool for weight loss.
So, how many calories does yoga burn per hour? Yoga can burn around 250 Calories an hour, if you are working hard and pushing yourself.
In terms of the exercise alone, attending a yoga class once or twice a week will not help you to lose any significant amount of weight. Even if you do a very intensive yoga class, such as Ashtanga, which involves performing the Sun Salutation over and over in-between more static asanas (postures), you are only going to be burning a few hundred calories a couple of times a week.
To make a real change in terms of body fat you need to be burning additional calories every single day. You also need to tackle your diet, which is essentially the root cause of weight gain.
However, when people start to make yoga a part of their daily routine, weight loss and improved fitness is possible. There are two reasons why this may occur:
- As you develop your interest and experience in yoga you start to do longer routines every day. This does burn additional calories and helps you to increase your daily calorie deficit.
- Yoga can become a greater lifestyle choice. To get good at yoga you need to work hard to develop your body and mindset. Most importantly, you need to adjust your diet to allow yourself to improve.
This may seem a little backward, but it really is the case. For example, if you look at an athletes fridge you will notice that it is not full of food. Athletes have a reputation for performing hours of intensive training and requiring many calories every day.
However, this does not mean that they fill their homes with food – they are too busy training for that. They eat only as much as they need, when they need it. Only healthy food is consumed and only at the set meal times. The rest of the day they are dedicated to their training. The key is, to become a better athlete you need to control your diet. The same is true for yoga.
Once you become more immersed in your training you may start to take more control of your diet and lifestyle choices too. This simply means that you start to eat less. Not because you are “on a diet” but simply because you make the decision to adjust your eating habits to allow yourself to develop your yoga skills further. Many people say that they do not have time to exercise – but they still have time to prepare food and then sit in front of the television to eat it!
Becoming more active has many more advantages than just burning calories. As you become fitter and stronger you improve the health of your whole body, its internal organs and your mind too. Fitter people tend to have improved mental health with less incidence of depression and improved self-esteem.
Yoga is a great way to be fit and healthy. Whether your goals are simply to lose some of your excess fat or just to lose weight in general, yoga can help you achieve these goals. But it is not a magic bullet. Attending a single class each week and then doing nothing else to improve yourself will hardly make a dent. It is the whole lifestyle choice that is important. If you wish to take full advantage of yoga it should be a part of your daily routine.