Surya Namaskar weight loss is effective because it’s a cardiovascular exercise, according to a study from San Jose State University published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies.

Surya Namaskar Weight Loss

Surya Namaskar Weight Loss

Surya Namaskar weight loss works because it’s a cardiovascular exercise that burns a significant amount of calories. This classic yoga series is also known as Sun Salutation and:

  • stretches and tones your muscles
  • relaxes your mind
  • keeps your internal organs healthy

What is Surya Namaskar?

Surya Namaskar is a series of Hatha yoga poses. Hatha and Sivananda Yoga practitioners typically perform this series of 12 asanas at the beginning of every session.

To complete one round of Sun Salutation, you cycle through the asanas leading with your right foot and then the left. It’s important to move rhythmically from one pose to the next in sync with your breath. Yoga beginners typically start with three rounds of Surya Namaskar and gradually increase to eight to 10 rounds.

Contraindications for Surya Namaskar include, but are not limited to:

  • high blood pressure
  • prior stroke
  • coronary artery disease

Surya Namaskar as Cardiovascular Exercise

Surya Namaskar is a cardiovascular exercise, which is why Surya Namaskar weight loss works even though you perform slow controlled body movements. The results of this study demonstrate that:

  • During the first round of Surya Namaskar, your heart rate increases to 80% of your age-predicted maximum heart rate, also known as HRmax.
  • During the fourth round, your heart rate increases to 90% of your age-predicted HRmax.
  • Your heart rate reaches its peak during the eighth step of Surya Namaskar when you do downward dog for the second time.

Calories Burned, Surya Namaskar and Gentle Hatha Yoga

Here are some calorie counts for doing Surya Namaskar, gentle Hatha yoga, and a combination of the two — by weight. As a general rule, the more you weigh the more calories you burn during activities. But those who weigh less, typically burn more while resting.

— A person weighing:

  • 132 pounds burns 230 calories doing 30 minutes of Surya Namaskar
  • 155 pounds burns 298 calories doing 60 minutes of gentle Hatha yoga
  • 155 pounds burns 470 calories doing a 90-minute Hatha yoga class that starts with 30 minutes of Surya Namaskar
  • 185 pounds burns 356 calories doing 60 minutes of gentle Hatha yoga


Quick Facts: Weight Loss Basics

1. One pound of fat contains about 3,500 calories. A simple calculation shows dieters need to burn 250 to 500 calories every day to lose between half-a-pound and 1 pound per week, which is a healthy rate of weight loss for most people.

2. Recent research on Biggest Loser alumni shows losing weight is more complex than simple calorie reduction.

References for Surya Namaskar Weight Loss

 1. Asana, Pranayama, Mudra, Bandha; Yoga Publications Trust; 2008

2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Balancing Calories; 2011
3. Mayo Clinic; Can Yoga Help Me Lose Weight?; Donald Hensrud, M.D.; 2010
4. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies; Acute Effects of Surya Namaskar on the Cardiovascular and Metabolic System; B.S. Mody; July 2011
Photo credit: Diamond Mountain