How Many Calories Does Hot Yoga Burn? You Decide.

YogaI don’t mean to preach, but you should probably be worrying more about your yoga technique than how many calories you’re burning.  Still, it’s an irresistible question, and surely there’s something to be said for taking a scientific approach to exercise and well-being.  The answer, unfortunately, is the one that nobody wants to hear: it depends.  Burning calories, from hot yoga to jogging, is completely relative and dependent on a number of factors.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t make an accurate approximation, which is exactly what this article will help you do.  How many calories does hot yoga burn?  Keep reading, and if the results are making you manic, try this yoga for stress.

Theory of Relativity

Calorie burning is relative, yes, but what are the big players in this game?  The two main contenders are gender (males burn more than females) and weight (the larger you are, the more you burn).  But other variables factor into the equation, such as what type of body your gene pool created, present state of fitness, and the intensity you bring to your hot yoga class, among others.  It’s difficult to say exactly how many calories you burn, but being off by ten, twenty, even fifty calories isn’t the end of the world.  Weight loss is only one of many benefits of yoga, and you will burn more calories throughout the week due to the increase in metabolism that yoga stimulates, so keep that in mind, too.

Long Live Bikram

Bikram yoga, or “hot” yoga, is one of the yoga kings when it comes to burning calories.  The ideal conditions for bikram are forty percent humidity, in conjunction with a one-hundred-five degree temperature.  The heat serves several purposes.  According to established bikram yogis, the heat drastically increases the body’s energy demands (in other words, its need to burn calories).  The heat loosens your muscles, as well, allowing more flexible and more intense movements.  Finally, you have the standard bikram program, consisting of 26 yoga postures.  The mental discipline involved in bikram yoga probably supersedes the physical element for most people.  All of these factors together help create a cardiovascular workout on par with any aerobic workout out there.

Consistency will also help you burn more calories each session.  Someone who practices bikram yoga three times a week is going to burn more calories each session than someone who only practices once a week.  Of course, leading a healthy lifestyle (eating well, staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, etc.) will help you burn more calories, too.  But if this process sounds too long-winded, take the fast track with this 14 day yoga detox and empowerment course.

Let’s Talk Numbers

First, I want to put the awesome calorie burning power of bikram yoga into perspective.  Your standard yoga class is probably teaching you Hartha yoga, the physical practice of yoga postures.  While it comes in last in terms of calories burned, Hartha yoga is no walk in the park, averaging 180 calories burned over the course of an hour.

Next up is power yoga, properly referred to as Ashtanga yoga.  Ashtanga yoga involves more continuous movement than Hartha yoga, and for this reason it nearly doubles the caloric destruction: 350 calories per hour.  As awesome as that sounds, I bet you’d love to know how to TRIPLE your numbers.  Allow me to answer your prayers: triple your results with wall yoga for your whole body.

And the first runner up is…Bikram yoga.  That’s right, hot yoga is actually the second most effective type of yoga when it comes to burning calories, averaging 475 per hour.  So your typical bikram session, running ninety minutes, is going to burn 712 calories.  That is some dead-serious calorie burning, my friends.  To help you grapple with this figure, it’s roughly the same number you would burn if you did the butterfly stroke for an hour.  Yogis claim that expert Bikram practitioners, who are as intense as they come, can burn over 1,000 calories in a single session.  One Harvard study even suggests that Bikram yoga, due to its emphasis on weight-bearing positions, burns more calories than previously expected.  But if you hop on the scale directly following a bikram workout, you’re likely to be deceived.  You lose 1-3 pounds of water weight per session, and of course you gain that right back when drink a liter of water.  And yes, you need to stay hydrated.  Trying to lose weight by drinking less is extremely dangerous.

So…I know you’re dying to know…which yoga burns the most calories?  Vinyasa yoga!  This is known colloquially as Flow Yoga because of the constant, smooth movement used to transition from one pose to the next.  The constant movement, and emphasis on muscle use (rather than just stretching), makes Vinyasa yoga the top calorie burner, weighing in at almost 600 calories per hour.  One of the great things about Vinyasa yoga is that instructors have more leeway structuring the class than they do with Bikram yoga.  But any class is going to burn serious calories.

Healthy Mind, Healthy Body

Here’s an interesting tid-bit.  Yoga has a unique weight-loss quality.  As you develop through yoga, the connection with your mind and body is strengthened.  I mentioned this in another article I wrote on yoga, too, but people who practice yoga begin to show natural tendencies toward living healthier lives, from eating better to sleeping more regularly.

Studies also show that people who enjoy how they exercise are more successful.  While activities such as cycling and running often burn more calories, you have to love what you do.  So if you love yoga, you can always burn more calories by adding Bikram or Vinyasa yoga to your weekly routine.  You can also check out this yoga weight loss class, which will teach you how to create heat in your body, lower stress hormones, increase insulin sensitivity, and boost your metabolism while burning fat.  Yoga also has the benefit of being a full-body workout; maybe you burn less calories, but your working towards toning your entire body.  That’s a fair trade, if you ask me.