If you want to do Hatha yoga to burn calories and lose weight, you should start each yoga session with surya namaskar, aka sun salutation.
The Surya Namaskar series burns more calories than other yoga asanas because it is a cardiovascular exercise. After the first round of Surya Namaskar, your heartbeat rises to between 80 and 90 percent of age-predicted maximal heart rate, called HRMAX.
Sun Salutation is suitable Hatha yoga series for all levels. Yoga beginners need minimal training in Surya Namaskar to receive maximum benefits.
What Is Surya Namaskar?
The classic version of Surya Namaskar is a series of 12 yoga poses you perform rhythmically one after the other in synchronicity with your breath at the beginning of your Hatha yoga session. Modern variations of Surya Namaskar may have more or less than 12 yoga poses.
Sun Salutation offers more than just burning calories. The health benefits of Surya Namaskar include:
- strengthening your back, upper body, and quadriceps
- improving your flexibility
- increasing your respiratory capacity
- stimulating your digestive system
How Many Calories Burned with Surya Namaskar?
If you want to do yoga to burn calories, you’re probably asking, “How many calories burned with Surya Namaskar?” The answer is Surya Namaskar burns about 3.79 calories per minute, according to a study by the Indian Defense Institute of Physiology and Allied Science and published in the Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology.
The researchers found one round of Surya Namaskar takes an average of 3 minutes and 40 seconds, which means one round of Surya Namaskar burns about 13.91 calories for a person weighing 138 pounds. (If you weigh more you will burn more calories and if you weigh less you will burn fewer calories. This is true for all yoga asanas.)
How to Use Surya Namaskar for Weight Loss?
Before you start any weight loss program, you should know there are about 3,500 calories in 1 pound of fat. So, you need to reduce your daily calories by 250 to 500 in order to achieve ½ to 1 pound of weight loss per week. You can do this by exercising more and/or eating fewer calories. Experts advise that the most effective way to lose weight is to do both.
Using the numbers from this yoga study, a 138-pound person needs to do Surya Namaskar for about 67 minutes to burn 250 calories and about 95 minutes to burn 350 calories. Your results may vary.
Weight Loss Tip:
References for Yoga to Burn Calories: Surya Namaskar
1) Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology; Energy Cost and Cardiorespiratory Changes During the Practice of Surya Namaskar; B. Sinha, et al.
2) Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies; Acute Effects of Surya Namaskar on the Cardiovascular and Metabolic System; B.S. Mody.
3) State of Vermont Division of Disability and Aging Services; Calories Count!
4) Asana, Pranayama, Mudra, Bandha, by Swami Satyananda Saraswati.