How many calories does yoga burn?

In short answer, who cares. It would depend on the style of yoga, your sex, fitness level, age, and a myriad of other things. But these are things you might care about on the gym floor or in a HIIT class. Yoga is about connecting with the inner self and leaving the ego at the door. Yes, yoga burns calories and yes, it is fitness; however, the more you count calories in yoga the less you might actually get out of yoga. So leave the fitness tracker devices behind and just enjoy the solace of being on the mat with no real goals. Yoga will absolutely make you a stronger person not only physically, but spiritually and mentally (which may be of more value to you, you just don’t know it yet).

Yoga can be classified as exercise, but let’s drop that label for now. Exercise conjures up the image of a lot of repetitive movements with goals. Running to lose weight, lifting to gain muscle, swimming to burn calories, biking for a personal record time. All of these things are moving to get better, faster, stronger. Yoga is letting go of the notion of moving up and to the right. It’s about finding a place of stillness within us all and just resting there. Resting there in Warrior 1, resting in child’s pose, and connecting with the breath throughout your practice. Yoga can be a lifelong practice that changes with time.

Yoga won’t interfere with your calorie counting, but calorie counting will interfere with your yoga. I used to be obsessed with the scale. I would weigh myself every day and watch the needle move. I would get on all the cardio machines at the gym and just get my time in so I could burn whatever extra calories I might be holding onto. I was just mindlessly playing a game of body image and exercise. The cliché would be that I found yoga and it changed overnight. That did not happen. I did start practicing yoga, but it took at least 10 years to let go of the exercise madness of it all. (Also, growing a little older helps put things in perspective but yoga definitely pushed it along a little faster.) I still like exercise, because it is so beneficial to our overall health. I just don’t care anymore how many calories I burn. What matters more is how it makes you feel. If you get lost in the numbers, you could lose track of the bigger picture.

Yoga may not be without goals though. Just because yoga is about connecting mind, body, and breath doesn’t mean you can’t practice with an intention or a goal. Your goal could be qualitative such as finding space to love, or it could be more quantitative like bakasana (crow) pose. Just be willing to experience a few steps forward and a couple of steps back and understand each day brings us a different body to work with. We evolve continuously. With consistent practice these “goals” will manifest themselves.

Yoga is an exercise, but it’s so much more. Grab your mat and find out for yourself. You could read yoga blogs and books, but the best way to learn about yoga is to do yoga.

Practice where you are. Namaste.