People today practice Vinyasa yoga for lots of reasons – to experience a spiritual awakening, to stretch and lengthen muscles, to relax. However, did you know that you can also use yoga to burn calories? If you practice Vinyasa yoga, then you can actually burn about the same number of calories in one hour as running 5 miles. That’s right. Vinyasa yoga burns calories. In order to determine the exact number of calories that you burn, you need to factor in your weight, familiarity with the moves, and level of intensity.
For example, if you are a 150-pound woman, then you can possibly burn approximately 584 calories in an hour of yoga. These statistics are according to the Health Status calculator, but its calculations only account for practicing yoga the entire time and not when you’re doing poses such as Savasana and the Child’s pose.
A Look at Vinyasa
This particular type of yoga links posture with your breath as you move from one pose to another. There are different types of Vinyasa yoga such as power, Ashtanga, and flow.
The more intense the flow is, the more calories you will burn. So, a class that has a slow flow is still Vinyasa yoga, however, it burns fewer calories than a more active yoga class. A more active yoga class would include moves such as handstands, Sun Salutations, lunges, jump throughs, Chaturangas, etc.
Your Experience with Yoga Practice
Your experience level also determines your caloric burn. A person who is new to yoga will burn many more calories than an experienced practitioner. When you are new to yoga, you are less familiar with each move and it requires more effort on your part to the moves well and flows from one pose to the next. An experienced yogi, on the other hand, knows each pose quite well and has developed muscle memory, which means they are more efficient while practicing yoga and it requires less effort to execute each pose. Additionally, they are able to move easily between poses such as the Warrior I to the Triangle, etc.
Most Vinyasa yoga classes tend to start up slowly with breath work and a couple of seated moves until it slowly evolves into more advanced moves and postures that tend to burn a lot of calories. As the class slows down, yogis are required to hold specific poses for longer periods of time such as the Seated Forward Fold and poses with static movement don’t allow you to burn a lot of calories. The yoga class typically ends with a couple of minutes of Savasana in which yogis are lying in a very still pose which helps to calm the nervous system and the entire mind but doesn’t burn many calories.
As a result, a one-hour class typically has between 20 to 40 minutes of intense movements and flow which aids in burning calories. So, while the potential to burn 500+ calories exists as the calculators indicate, each class is different and the actual burn during a Vinyasa yoga class will vary.
A person who weighs more than the average weight of a person their height and age will burn more calories during any type of yoga practice. Basically, a 220-pound man will burn many more calories than a woman who weighs a mere 120 pounds.
Tips for Increasing Caloric Burn
For anyone interested in burning additional calories during a yoga class, try some of these hints for success:
- Increase the number of yoga postures that require you to balance or stand such as the Dancer and Warrior III.
- Participate in Power Vinyasa Yoga or Ashtanga style classes
- Substitute various resting type poses, such as the child’s pose, with more active poses such as the downward facing dog.
- When linking various yoga postures, be sure to include the Swift Ujjayi Breath. Simply inhale for 2 seconds and then exhale for only 2 seconds rather than lingering with a slow inhale and exhale.