Yoga to Lose Weight – Does it Work?

One of the most common questions about yoga is “can it help me lose weight?” The answer isn’t always simple. In this article, Adam takes you through the pros and cons for yoga for weight loss, along with some popular types of yoga for shedding fat.

When most people take up yoga, they want to get a certain result. That might simply be to feel more relaxed or to get more flexible. Some people – usually women – want to develop that “yoga bum” that’s so sought after.

A common goal is to try and lose weight. But can yoga really help you burn fat – especially in comparison to cardio such as running or playing sports? And are there additional benefits to yoga that you don’t get with other options? That’s what we’re going to find out in this post.

Burning Calories the Yoga Way

In some ways, losing weight is simple. If your body receives fewer calories than you burn over an extended period of time, you’ll lose weight. To tip the balance in the favour of weight loss you either need to eat less or do more exercise to increase your calorie burn.

An active class of yoga WILL burn more calories than if you’re just sitting. It’s estimated that the average woman weighing 150 pounds will burn between 300-400 calories in an hour of Power yoga. This is a vigorous type of yoga though – less intense forms will burn much less. On the other hand, certain types of hot yoga may burn even more.

There is a downside though. When you’re doing some intense yoga, you’ll burn calories. But during periods when you’re “resting” in long pose holds such as Pigeon of Child’s pose, you won’t burn many calories.

Also, as you can see from the numbers above, doing 2-3 classes of yoga per week isn’t going to help you lose weight unless you also look at your diet. This is the same with any form of exercise though – to lose weight you need to combine calorie burning with a restricted intake.

Yoga has Additional Benefits

You gain a lot more from yoga than just burning calories though. One of the great things about yoga practice is that you learn how to manage your stress and be more mindful. Studies have shown that this is why yoga is better for fat loss than simple stretching, as the latter doesn’t teach stress management.

To gain the stress-busting benefits of yoga, you need to practice on a daily basis. Yoga for relaxation doesn’t need to be long or arduous though.

An additional benefit is that you’ll become more mindful and aware of your actions. This can help prevent binge eating, as you’ll have greater awareness of your eating habits. Many of the calories we eat are on “auto pilot,” so this can make a big difference to weight gain.

The bottom line is clear : vigorous forms of yoga can help you lose weight by allowing you to burn more calories and be more mindful. The next question is which is the most effective type?

Which Type of Yoga?

We’ve already found out that any type of yoga can help you lose weight by improving your mindfulness and reducing stress. If you want to burn calories directly from yoga though, you’ll need to pick a type that keeps you active throughout the session. These are some of the best types of yoga for fat loss:

  • Bikram yoga
  • Power yoga
  • Fat loss programs such as Yoga Burn (click here for the review I used to find out more about this program)


People who say yoga can’t help you lose weight are simply wrong. While many types of yoga won’t burn as many calories as vigorous cardiovascular exercise, practice will improve your mindfulness and reduce stress levels. This can have a positive effect on weight loss. In addition, yoga is proven to have a range of other health benefits.

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