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Low-intensity exercise like yoga burns more fat than high-intensity exercise, according to a study published in Evidence-Based Complimentary and Alternative Medicine.
Sixty percent of the calories you burn by doing yoga are from fat. Compare this with doing high-intensity workouts, such as sweating it out on the elliptical machine, where only 35 percent of the calories you burn are from fat.
To do yoga for weight loss, start going to yoga classes or watch yoga videos. The amount of fat you burn with yoga moves depends on how many calories you burn overall during the session. Here are some of the most popular Hatha yoga moves that burn the most calories.
*All calorie calculations in this article are for a 140-pound person. People who weigh more burn more calories doing the same exercise than those who weight less (typically).
Yoga Moves that Burn 2 Calories per Minute
These yoga poses burn about 2 calories per minute with 1.2 of those calories from fat:
- Seated Forward Bend / Paschimottanasana: During a seated forward bend you sit on your mat with extended legs and reach for your toes.
- Sleeping Thunderbolt Pose / Supta Vajrasana (see feature photo at the top of the page): To perform the sleeping thunderbolt pose, kneel on your mat with your heels on the outside of your hips and lean back to lie on the floor.
- Cow Face Pose / Gomukakhasana: To do the cow face pose, sit with your right knee stacked on top of your left, then clasp your hands together behind your back so your right elbow points up and your left elbow points down; repeat with the left side to complete one round.
Yoga Moves that Burn 3 Calories per Minute
These yoga poses burn about 3 calories per minute, with 1.6 calories from fat:
- Leg-lock Pose: Do leg-lock pose by lying on your back, hugging your knees into your chest and lifting your head so your forehead touches your knees.
- Shoulder Stand: Perform shoulder stand by lying on your back, lifting your hips and extended legs into the air, and placing your palms on your lower back for support.
- Plow Pose I (also known as, Sarvangasana and Halasana I). Get into plow pose I from shoulder stand by reaching with your toes to touch the floor behind your head.
*All calorie calculations are for a 140-pound person.
Yoga Moves that Burn 4 Calories per Minute
These yoga poses burn 4 calories per minute:
- Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar):Sun Salutation is a series of several yoga moves done at the beginning of many yoga classes. This series burns about 4 calories per minute, according to the same study, with 2.38 calories from fat.
- Plow Pose II (Halasana II): Plow Pose II and the bow pose both burn about 3 calories per minute with 1.8 calories from fat. To perform plow pose II, get into Plow Pose I and reach your hands behind your head to touch your toes.
- Bow Pose (Dhanurasana): To perform the Bow Pose, lay on your stomach and then reach behind you to grab your feet while gently pulling your feet toward your head as you lift your legs and torso off the mat.
Yoga Burns More Fat than High-Intensity Exercise
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.