How Many Calories Does Yoga Really Burn?

How Many Calories Does Yoga Really Burn?   

This is a question that I have been asked many times, and I have always felt a bit stumped as to how to answer it comprehensively, as it seems there is not a clear-cut view on this. So, I have researched a bit and come up with the following viewpoints which I, for one, found quite enlightening, and I’m sure you will too.

When reading below, it’s worth bearing in mind that the classes that I teach are arguably a combination of Vinyasa flow and what is termed below as ‘Hatha yoga’ (although all yoga is Hatha yoga) – as any of you that have attended one of my classes will know, we work slowly, with lots of awareness on breath and body, and we work deeply into the muscles, not just stretching. My classes are diverse – we never follow one sequence but build upon a basic set of asanas or do something different in each class.  Each class is different, but intense.

If one of your favourite classes isn’t a top burner, Jill Lawson, founder of Jill Lawson Yoga, has a few tips to get more bang for your buck.

“We will burn more calories when we engage the larger muscles of the body, so deepening our warrior poses, yoga squats and chair poses will increase the demand on our large muscles, therefore burning more calories.”  So, for example, in our class this week at Yoga With Nicci, as we moved through Chandra Namaskar (Moon Salutation), with many squats, Trikonasana etc, you would definitely have been working into the larger muscles of the body, through a flowing sequence of asanas.

If you ask any avid yogi why they love yoga so much, weight-loss and calorie burn would probably be pretty far down the list. While you don’t want to take away from the mind/body connection people flock to yoga to experience—admit it—you are a little curious how many calories your favourite yoga class is scorching. And if you are on a weight-loss plan, being informed on just how many calories you are expending can be the key to your success.

There is no way around it. Yoga is as an amazing full-body workout— but the intensity can vary based on which class you take, from gentle and relaxing Hatha yoga to sweat-dripping-off-your-nose hot Bikram. So which classes burn the most (and the least) amount of calories? The answers may surprise you.

“If the method to test caloric expenditure was only based on heart rate, then Bikram and other hot yoga classes might top the charts as the styles of yoga that burn the most calories,” explains Jill Lawson, founder of Jill Lawson Yoga. “But while a higher heart rate does correlate with a higher calorie burn, other factors can play a role in increased heart rate without the corresponding caloric expenditure.”

Calories Burned in Yoga: Class by Class

Gasp! Bikram is not the be all, end all of fat-melting, slipping in puddles of expended calories in yoga class? Of course, active yoga styles such as Ashtanga, Vinyasa Flow and Power Yoga burn more calories than passive styles such as Restorative or Hatha yoga, but let’s really see how each form stacks up.

Caloric expenditure in yoga is said be anywhere from approximately 100 to 450 calories per hour, depending on the person, and the practice. According to HealthStatus.com, one hour of the following varieties of yoga performed by a 150-pound person will reap the following rewards:

Hatha Yoga: 189 calories. Hatha yoga is an umbrella term for what Westerners consider yoga. In truth, Hatha yoga is the actual physical practice of yoga postures, plain and simple. This is the basic, run-of-the-mill yoga class you may find at your gym or local studio if not noted otherwise. While part of the class may contain constant movement, a lot of it is also holding balance poses. Hatha classes are perfect for those who want to dip their toes in the yoga pool and get a great, relaxing flexibility workout.

Ashtanga Yoga (or Power Yoga): 351 calories. Ashtanga yoga is often referred to as Power Yoga because of its dynamic system that combines breathing and movement into a series of postures. It is both cardiovascular and meditative, and relies on the strength of your own muscles to perform the movements. Unlike many styles of yoga where the classes are choreographed differently, in Ashtanga Yoga classes, the postures performed are always the same and are done in a specific order. Ashtanga yoga is meant to purify the body by cultivating an “internal heat,” which burns off toxins. It also builds strength, flexibility and reduces stress.

Bikram or Hot Yoga: 477 calories. Hot yoga, which is performed in a room heated to around 105 degrees and usually lasts around 90 minutes, is probably the most misunderstood form of yoga. “When the body is working hard to cool itself, as in a hot yoga class, heart rate does increase, but that does not necessarily mean there is a higher physical demand on the working muscles,” explains Lawson. “We might expect to lose anywhere from 1 to 3 pounds of water weight in a hot yoga class, but that is likely to be replaced when we rehydrate.”

Bikram yoga involves a sequence of 26 postures and two breathing exercises performed in the same order, no matter where you take your class. Hot yoga can involve any type of postures but is still performed in a heated classroom. You will sweat profusely, thereby ridding the body of toxins and the intense heat enhances flexibility in your muscles.

Vinyasa Yoga (Flow Yoga): 594 calories. Vinyasa yoga, often referred to as Flow because of the smooth way the poses run together, tops the list of calorie burners because of the constant movement. If you choose a Flow class, expect lots of burning muscles, not just stretching. Many love Vinyasa because of its diversity. There is no single sequence that teachers follow, so every class will be different, but intense.

If one of your favourite classes isn’t a top burner, Lawson has a few tips to get more bang for your buck.

“We will burn more calories when we engage the larger muscles of the body, so deepening our warrior poses, yoga squats and chair poses will increase the demand on our large muscles, therefore burning more calories.”

However, if calorie-burning is your main goal, she does not recommend yoga as your sole means of exercise. ”Other types of activities such as cycling, running or vigorous dancing burn a lot more calories per hour as compared with yoga.”

Yoga does have its unique weight-loss abilities though. Yoga teaches us to listen to our bodies, take care better care of ourselves and naturally avoid unhealthy behaviours. The more we practice, the more connected we become with our bodies.

“Calorie-counting is one way to be more conscious of our diet and exercise balance,” says Lawson, “However, obsessing about it definitely takes away from the joy we gain from the time we spend on the yoga mat.”

And then another article:

Is Yoga Effective for Fat Burning?

First of all: What is fat burning?

Fat burning has become a popular catch phrase in marketing classes at the gym and exercise videos. Most people who are seduced by the idea of burning fat just want to lose weight or tone their bodies. When it comes to weight loss it really doesn’t matter if your body is burning fat or carbs: what matters is that you are burning more calories than you consume. About.com exercise guide Paige Waehner recommends that you exercise consistently and vary your workout routine if your goal is to burn fat. Yoga can be an effective part of both these strategies.

Is yoga effective for fat burning?

The answer depends on what kind of yoga you do and how often you do it. There are a lot of claims that yoga will not help you lose weight. This is true of the most gentle types of asana practice which include light stretching and seated meditation. However, if losing weight is a priority, there are many of more cardiovascular types of yoga available that will raise your heart rate and help you lose weight assuming you are also watching what you eat. Yoga is also great for building muscle definition, making you look more toned.

What types of yoga are best for fat burning?

If you want to lose weight using yoga as your primary workout, you are going to need to commit to a fast-paced practice, ideally every day. Ashtanga yoga is a great choice since daily practice is encouraged, but power yoga, some hot yoga and some vinyasa yoga may also do the trick. Another option is to use yoga as part of your overall weight loss plan but not count on getting the bulk of your cardio at yoga class. Yoga combined with walking, running, or biking is a great choice.

Which yoga poses are the best for burning fat?

No individual yoga pose is going to make the pounds melt off your thighs. It doesn’t really matter what yoga poses you do, as long as you do a regular, vigorous practice.

Hope that helps answer any questions you may have had, but shout if you have more!  

Thanks to Kelly Turner at Fit Bottomed Girls: http://www.opposingviews.com/i/health/wonder-how-many-calories-are-burned-different-yoga-classes-we-have-answers and Ann Pizer at About.com Guide http://yoga.about.com/od/yogafa1/a/Yoga-And-Fat-Burning.htm

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Do’s and Don’ts of Yoga: Some Basic Etiquette in Class

Yoga is all about tuning into the breath and moving onto a higher level than just the ‘here and now’. In theory, this should mean the ability to rise above, or at the very least, not be overly bothered by, little things like people stepping on your mat – planting their big, sweaty foot exactly where you like to rest your forehead when you are resting in Balasana – but unfortunately, we are not all that far advanced in our practice yet, and these ‘little things’ do irk.

I have no doubt that many of these travesties come from an innocent place – one of inexperience, rather than the intent to offend, but as the saying goes: ‘Ignorantia juris non excusat’ ignorance of the law excuses no one.

So, I have put together a list of some basic do’s and don’ts regarding yoga, based on my experiences at my own yoga studio in Stellenbosch as well as others across the world. I hope that these tips help you to get the most out of the class you attend, and also that they help you to feel more comfortable and familiar if a yoga studio environment is a new one to you.  Some of these tips are basic common sense and, if you are already a considerate, aware kind of person, you probably do them without even thinking; others are less obvious and more specific to a yoga environment.

DO arrive early. Getting to class about 10 minutes early can help you settle in and align your attitude with the purpose of the class. While you’re waiting you can practice a pose, do a few stretches, or just sit or lie quietly, breathe, and get centred.

DON’T eat for two or three hours before class. If you practice yoga on a full stomach, you might experience cramps, nausea, or vomiting, especially in twists, deep forward bends, and inversions. Digesting food also takes energy that can make you lethargic.

DO let your teacher know – before the class starts – about injuries or conditions that might affect your practice. If you are injured or tired, feel free to skip poses you can’t or shouldn’t do, or try a modified version.

DO listen to your body. I must bore my students to tears with this one. It doesn’t matter how many times you have come to my class, or how well I have got to know you and your body – no one knows it better than you do, so please tune inwards and listen carefully to what it is saying to you. My cardinal rule is ‘NO PAIN’ so if you are getting close to that, rather back off and take a break.

DO create an intention before you start your practice. I often invite my students to do this, as I find that it can be helpful in giving one a point of focus. This might be to keep bringing your awareness to your breath, to practice ‘ahimsa’ (non-violence) or to focus on your alignment during the class. Or it could be more general – to become more aware and understanding, more loving and compassionate, or healthier, stronger, and more skillful. Or it might be for the benefit of a friend, a cause—or even yourself.

DO be quiet. It’s great to share a class with people you know, but it can be distracting to yourself and others to have an extended or loud conversation. And more often than not, people are coming to yoga specifically to tune out and experience some peace and quiet.  I feel this one is especially important after a class, when most students are feeling very peaceful and still after Savasana. It is respectful to give them the opportunity to carry this feeling away from the studio with them, rather than crashing back to earth by initiating a loud conversation directly after class.

DO bring a towel or your own mat if you sweat a lot, and arrive clean and free of scents that might distract or offend others.

DON’T push it. Instead of trying to go as deeply or completely into a pose as others might be able to do, do what you can without straining or injuring yourself. You’ll go farther faster if you take a loving attitude toward yourself and work from where you are, not from where you think you should be.

DO pick up and neatly put away any props you use, including rolling up and packing away your mat if you borrowed one.

DO take time afterwards to think about what you did in class, so you can retain what you learned. Review the poses you practiced, and note any instructions that particularly made sense. Even if you remember just one thing from each class, you’ll soon have a lot of information that can deepen your own personal practice.

DO take your shoes off outside the studio. Many yoga studios have a place for your shoes by the front door. Since people will be walking around the studio barefoot, it is most hygienic if everyone takes off their outdoor shoes first thing. And make sure you don’t walk over other people’s mats! And speaking of feet, it is considered polite to have clean ones.

DO turn off your phone.  Make a habit of doing this as soon as you get to the yoga studio. You will be quite embarrassed if your phone rings during class, or if an alarm sounds halfway through. If this happens (and it has happened to me), I advocate owning up and going to turn the thing off immediately, unless your teacher prefers that it just be ignored and let you know of their preference.

DO go to the loo during rest poses. It is fine to leave class for a few minutes to go to the bathroom: there is no need to ask the teacher’s permission. The best time to go is when there is a period of rest, either in Child’s Pose or Downward Dog. You will not earn your teacher’s respect if you routinely dodge out during difficult poses or skip part of Savasana.

DON’T skip Savasana!  Your final relaxation in Savasana is an important part of your practice. Don’t plan to leave class early – it can also be extremely disruptive to the other students.  If you must, tell the teacher in advance and take a short Savasana before you go. Don’t make a habit of this.

DO feel free to quietly ask your yoga teacher for help if you don’t have enough room to practice or if you are having trouble doing something. A quick mention to the teacher can be the difference between having a horrible time and being comfortable enough to focus on your practice.

DON’T compete! First and foremost yoga is non-competitive. This wonderful quality often attracts people from many levels to the same classroom. Nobody is watching or judging you. Progress is personal and more about being mindful than doing the best pose.

DO wear comfortable, form-fitting clothes—something that allows free movement of all joints without being too baggy.

DO remember to be present. Be patient. Keep your focus on your own mat and try not to be self-critical. Your body may feel different from day to day. That’s okay. You do not have to keep up with the class. Unlike aerobics and other exercise classes, nobody will blink an eye if you sit down on your mat and rest a bit. Again, yoga is non-competitive. Just listen to your body and respect that every step forward takes time.

DO smile! Yoga can simultaneously be serious and light-hearted. As you face small challenges, keep your energy in a positive place so the overall experience is fun and enriching.

DO keep yoga in your life, even when you’re not on the mat. It may soon become part of your daily philosophy of health and well-being. If you can’t make it to class, consider doing some asanas (yoga postures) at home or work to promote strength, flexibility and peace of mind. Hold good posture while sitting at your desk or driving the car. Focus on deep, conscious breathing to alleviate stress and refresh your brain.

Have I missed any? Let me know if you have any pet peeves or tips to add. It may just make me feel less intolerant!

Namaste.

More coverage about my studio in Yoga Awakening Africa

New studio open in Stellenbosch

DECEMBER 1, 2011
Beautiful new studio has now opened in Stellenbosch
 

Yoga with Nicci.

This studio is situated 16 Die Laan, Stellenbosch.  Nicci has a beautiful studio in the wonderfully historic area of Stellenbosch where she teaches Hatha Yoga in the Integral Vinyasa style.
She teaches a gentle style of yoga with a lot of emphasis on warming up the body thoroughly before and throughout the practice, so the risk of injury is minimal. Whilst you enjoy all the benefits of a wonderful physical workout, the emphasis is on mindfulness and constantly bringing the awareness back to the breath: the focus of the practice is to bring mind, body and spirit into a state of balance and harmony. Every class ends with a period of relaxation, which is one of the most important elements of the class.

Beginners are welcome.
All levels of yoga are taught
Pre-natal (pregnancy yoga) classes.
There is ample, free parking and a separate, private changing / shower area.

Be sure to visit this beautiful new studio the next time you are in Stellenbosch

Contact Nicci for class times and rates | nicci@yogawithnicci.co.za |             +27 78 56 38 152       | www.yogawithnicci.co.za

 
 

Some more coverage! About my yoga studio in Stellenbosch

So for some reason the photos won’t display, so I am attempting to post them to a gallery here, or you can check out the original bit by clicking on http://yoganewsletters.wordpress.com/2011/12/01/studio-news-3/ (my short links aren’t working tonight and I can’t be bothered to fight with them).

Beautiful new studio has now opened in Stellenbosch
Yoga with Nicci.
This studio is situated 16 Die Laan, StellenboschNicci has a beautiful studio in the wonderfully historic area of Stellenbosch where she teaches Hatha Yoga in the Integral Vinyasa style.
She teaches a gentle style of yoga with a lot of emphasis on warming up the body thoroughly before and throughout the practice, so the risk of injury is minimal. Whilst you enjoy all the benefits of a wonderful physical workout, the emphasis is on mindfulness and constantly bringing the awareness back to the breath: the focus of the practice is to bring mind, body and spirit into a state of balance and harmony. Every class ends with a period of relaxation, which is one of the most important elements of the class.
Beginners are welcome.
All levels of yoga are taught
Pre-natal (pregnancy yoga) classes.
There is ample, free parking and a separate, private changing / shower area.

Be sure to visit this beautiful new studio the next time you are in Stellenbosch

Contact Nicci for class times and rates | nicci@yogawithnicci.co.za | +27 78 56 38 152 | www.yogawithnicci.co.za