Yoga isn’t a weight loss plan regardless of what anyone says. It’s a physical and mental practice that focuses the mind and body toward a state of well-being and balance. With balance comes physical stability.
Calories in Yoga Practice
Many people want to know how many calories can be burned by practicing yoga. Elysium yoga, a yoga website, estimates Hatha yoga can compare to an easy walk at 175 calories an hour. On the other hand, Ashtanga, the athletic yoga, can burn up to 300 calories an hour. Power yoga is in the same calorie class as Ashtanga. Bikram is estimated to burn a whopping 630 calories in an hour. The heat might help since the class isn’t necessarily strenuous the way a spin class might be. Or the numbers might be skewed.
Free Internet Calculators for Yoga Calories
There are calorie counters online to help determine how many calories are burned by activity or by weight and height of the individual. Just participating at a low level of energy expenditure in hot yoga will not burn the 600 plus calories described. Likewise, putting total effort into Hatha yoga may burn far more than the typical 175 calories estimated. For ballpark figures, check out these calorie counters.
- Calorie counter for yoga activity by class
- About.com exercise calorie counter
- A similar calculator, if not the same, is offered by Glamor.com/health-fitness
- Quickfit Yoga offers a calculator for some types of yoga
- Calorie counter including classical Hatha yoga
Yoga Breath and Weight Loss
Proper breathing plays a pivotal role in the practice of yoga. The breath of fire utilizes the metabolism and the core abdominal muscles to burn oxygen and fat and tighten the waist and (abds) abdominal muscles. The diaphragm and abd muscles are forcing air out. The intake of air is lesser and lighter. The breath of fire balances the 3rd chakra that in turn balances the body. The technique (not for pregnant women) is as follows:
- Puff the abdomen outward with inhalation.
- On the out breath, draw the abdomen back in toward the backbone but also up toward the diaphragm.
- Make a forceful vocal “huh” sound with the exhalation.
- Breathing in should be the same amount and forcefulness as out breathing. Thus the balance is created. Internal heat is generated.
- Ease of this type of breathing comes with practice. This can be done a few minutes a day for effective results in a few weeks.
Kundalini yoga practices the breath of fire, leading to physical and mental detoxing and clarity.
Yoga Postures, Asanas, that Help Weight Loss
Any activity helps promote a stable weight. Yoga is no different purely from the physical side or for sheer stamina, but the following poses are described due to the yogic principles behind them.
Poses that massage the thyroid: The thyroid has a role in metabolism and a sluggish thyroid produces fatigue and minor weight gain. Optimal thyroid function is a goal in such poses as bridge, where the pelvis is raised from a position lying on the back as you inhale, with the legs bent at the knees. The upward pressure of the lower body presses against the neck and massages the thyroid among other things. Inhale upward; exhale into the pose and hold.
Fish Pose does the same but is a more energetic pose, stretching the abdominal wall in a similar manner but from the head downward.
Poses that massage fatty tissue: The seated forward bend is the floor variation of the standing forward bend where the arms lift upward to fall down toward the floor as the head bends into the knees and the palms touch the floor. Seated, the torso extends and bends over the thighs pressing the abd onto the legs and the hands reach toward the toes.
Yoga for weight loss is not the same as yoga for weight control. Practicing yoga can put the body in harmony with the desires of the mind and thus control diet. Read about the Yoga Diet.
- Paul, P.(2007 ). When Yoga Hurts, Time Magazine, accessed 2/20/2011
- Nayak & Shankar,(2004). Yoga, a Therapeutic Approach, Phys Med Rehabil Clin N Am 15 783–798