A yoga session can burn between 180 and 460 calories depending on several factors, including:

  • the type of yoga you’re doing
  • the length and intensity of the class
  • whether you’re male or female

For example, a 160-pound person will burn 183 calories in a 60-minute Hatha (basic) yoga class, according to the Mayo Clinic.

In comparison, here are the approximate calories burned for other activities, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA):

ActivityCalories burned
golf (walking and carrying clubs) for an hour 330 calories
aerobics for an hour480 calories
swimming laps (slow freestyle) for an hour 510 calories
running at 5 mph for an hour590 calories

The primary health benefit of yoga is not burning calories, but you will burn calories during a yoga class. How many calories you burn depends on a number of variables, such as:

  • style of yoga
  • level of the class
  • length of class
  • pace and intensity of the class

For example, the number of calories burned during Hatha yoga — a basic style of yoga usually taught at a slightly slower pace — will vary from the number burned in Bikram yoga, also known as hot yoga.

Keep reading to learn more about yoga and how it may benefit weight loss.

Bikram yoga is performed in a room heated to 105°F at 40 percent humidity. It typically consists of a 90-minute session featuring 26 postures and two breathing exercises.

Many of the postures require strength, flexibility, and balance. A 2014 study from Colorado State University found that, on average, men burned 460 calories and women burned 330 calories per Bikram session.

Weight loss is achieved by either burning more calories with physical activity or consuming fewer calories. The majority of people who lose weight and keep it off use both methods.

Many activities burn more calories than yoga. But a 2016 study suggested yoga may offer diverse effects that could make it a useful option for sustained, healthy weight loss.

For people trying to lose weight, the yoga community provides social support and role modeling. The researchers also suggested that developing mindfulness through yoga may help people:

  • resist unhealthy foods
  • resist comfort eating
  • resist stress eating
  • be more in tune with their body so they’re aware when they’re full
  • have fewer cravings
  • have a reduced appetite
  • have improved self-esteem and mood
  • reduce back or joint pain that had been prohibiting additional exercise

Yoga, sleep, and fat loss

According to the National Sleep Foundation, yoga can help you sleep better. For people with insomnia, practicing yoga daily helps them:

  • fall asleep faster
  • sleep longer
  • return to sleep faster if they wake up during the night

A 2018 study compared one group of people following normal sleep patterns to another group with restricted sleep five times per week. When both groups limited their caloric intake, the group with restricted sleep lost less fat. This suggests that sleep loss negatively impacts body composition, including the loss of fat.

If good sleep helps you lose fat and yoga helps you sleep well, it’s reasonable that yoga can help people lose fat.

A 2005 study of 15,500 middle-aged women and men funded by the National Cancer Institute found that people who were of normal weight at the age of 45 and regularly practiced yoga had gained about 3 pounds less than the average person by the time they reached 55.

The study also indicated that overweight people who practiced yoga lost about 5 pounds during the 10-year period of age 45 to 55 compared to the 14 pounds gained by people who did not do yoga from age 45 to 55.

The researchers concluded that these results were likely due to a more mindful approach to eating by those who practiced yoga.

To lose weight, you must burn more calories than you consume. You will burn calories in yoga class, but there are other physical activities that will burn more calories in the same time period.

That said, yoga may be able to help you lose weight and keep it off with mindfulness and better sleep.