Burning over 3 but less than 4 calories per minute is about the maximum number of calories you can burn doing a yoga pose, according to a study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Which Yoga Poses Burn the Most Calories?

Three Yoga Poses Burn the Most Calories

To create a yoga sequence for weight loss, the calories burned doing yoga should be as high as possible, depending on your ability. According to the study, the 3 Hatha yoga poses that burn the most calories per minute are

  1. Sun Salutation, or Surya Namaskar
  2. Plow Pose or Halasana II, an intermediate-level variation
  3. Bow Pose, Upward Wheel, or Dhanurasana

Surya Namaskar Burns the Most Calories: 3.79 per Minute

The yoga series Sun Salutation, or Surya Namaskar, burns 3.79 calories per minute or 13.9 calories per round. What is Surya Namaskar? Admittedly is is not a single pose but a series of 12 Hatha yoga poses performed in rhythmic sequence and in sync with your breath. And because this series burns the most calories, doing surya namaskar for weight loss is an option.

Beginners. To burn 55 calories, you complete 4 rounds.

Intermediate and Advanced. To burn between 83 and 139 calories, you complete 6 to 10 rounds.

Contraindications for Surya Namaskar include but are not limited to

  • being pregnant for 12 weeks or more
  • back conditions
  • coronary artery diseases

Plow Pose II Burns the Most Calories: 3.05 per Minute

The plow pose variation hands-to-toes, also known as halasana II, is a Hatha yoga inversion pose. This inversion pose burns approximately 3.05 calories per minute.

To perform plow pose II, first, master a stable and strong halasana pose. Then, reach your hands back to grasp your toes, instead of using your them to support your back.

Plow Pose 2, Halasana Version 2 for 3.05 calories burned doing yoga
Plow Pose 2, Halasana Version 2

For yoga beginners, perform Halasana II from 15 seconds to 1 minute. For intermediate and advanced level yoga practitioners, hold this pose for 10 minutes or more. Achieve 10 yoga calories burned for every 3.5 minutes you hold plow pose II.

Contraindications for Halasana II include but are not limited to

  • sciatica
  • high blood pressure
  • arthritis of the neck

Bow Pose Burns the Most Calories: 3.03 per Minute

Bow pose, also known as upward wheel or dhanurasana, is a backbending yoga pose that burns approximately 3.03 calories per minute. Thus, it’s another great addition to a yoga-for-weight-loss class sequence.

Bow Pose, Upward Wheel, Dhanurasana to maximize calories burned during yoga
Bow Pose, Upward Wheel, Dhanurasana

Asana, Pranayama, Mudra, Bandha recommends repeating Bow Pose 3 to 5 times and holding the pose for “as long as is comfortable.” If you repeat Bow Pose 5 times and hold it for 1 minute each time, about 10 to 12 breaths, you would achieve approximately 15 yoga calories burned.

Contraindications for Bow Pose include but are not be limited to

  • a weak heart
  • a hernia
  • ulcers

*As a general rule, people who weigh more burn more calories during a given exercise than people who weigh less. Therefore, your calories burned during yoga may vary.

References for 3 Hatha Yoga Poses that Burn the Most Calories

1. Ray, U. S., Pathak, A., & Tomer, O. S. (2011). Hatha yoga practices: Energy expenditure, respiratory changes, and intensity of exercise. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine,2011, 1–12.

2. Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology; Energy Cost and Cardiorespiratory Changes During the Practice of Surya Namaskar; B. Sinha, et al.

3. Asana, Pranayama, Mudra, Bandha, by Swami Satyananda Saraswati.