Yoga to Burn Calories: Surya Namaskar

November 2012 by

Yoga to Burn Calories: Surya Namaskar



If you want to do Hatha yoga to burn calories, Surya Namaskar should be the start of your yoga session. Also known as sun salutation, this series of yoga poses burns calories more calories than other yoga poses because it is a cardiovascular exercise. After the first round of Surya Namaskar , your heartbeat rises to between 80 and 90 percent of age-predicted maximal heart rate, called HRMAX. Sun salutation is suitable Hatha yoga series for all levels. In fact, yoga beginners need minimal training in Surya Namaskar to receive maximum benefits.


What is Surya Namaskar?

What is Surya Namaskar? The classic version is a series of 12 yoga poses you perform rhythmically one after the other in synchronicity with your breath at the beginning of Hatha yoga session. Modern variations of Surya Namaskar may have more or less than 12 yoga poses. Surya Namaskar is not just yoga to burn calories. Benefits of sun salutation include strengthening your back, upper body and quadriceps as well as improving your flexibility, increasing your respiratory capacity and stimulating your digestive system.


How Many Calories Burned with Surya Namaskar?

If you want to do yoga to burn calories, you’re probably asking, “How many calories burned with Surya Namaskar?” The answer is Surya Namaskar burns about 3.79 calories per minute, according to a study by the Defense Institute of Physiology and Allied Science in India published in the Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology. The researchers found one round of Surya Namaskar takes an average of 3 minutes and 40 seconds, which means one round of Surya Namaskar burns about 13.91 calories for a person weighing 138 pounds.


How to Use Surya Namaskar for Weight Loss?

Before you  start any weight loss program, you should know there are about 3,500 calories in 1 pound of fat. So, you need to reduce your daily calories by 250 to 500 in order to achieve ½ to 1 pound of weight loss per week. Using the numbers from this yoga study, a 138-pound person needs to do Surya Namaskar for about 67 minutes to burn 250 calories and about 95 minutes to burn 350 calories. Your results may vary and people who weigh more will burn more calories in the same amount of time.


Weight Loss Tip:

If you weigh more than 138 pounds, you will burn even more calories per minute when you do Surya Namaskar. If you weigh less than 138 pounds you will burn less calories per minute during Surya Namasker.

References for Yoga to Burn Calories: Surya Namaskar

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

2) Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies; Acute Effects of Surya Namaskar on the Cardiovascular and Metabolic System; B.S. Mody.

3) State of Vermont Division of Disability and Aging Services; Calories Count!

4) Asana, Pranayama, Mudra, Bandha, by Swami Satyananda Saraswati.

“Yoga to Burn Calories: Surya Namaskar” written by Victoria Weinblatt M.S.Ed., B.S., RYT-200, CMT.
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  1. Just what exactly genuinely moved u to create “Yoga
    to Burn Calories: Surya Namaskar | YogaHathaYoga.

    com”? I personally, honestly liked it! Many thanks -Mamie

    • Victoria

      Hello Maimie,

      My motivation for writing this article was to help people lose weight with yoga.

      Thank you for asking, Victoria

  2. Likith

    when they say one round of Surya Namaskar takes an average of 3 minutes and 40 seconds, do they mean two sets of 12 postures(left and right)?

    • Victoria

      Thank you for your question, which I am sure many others are asking themselves. In one study, the average time it took to do one round of Surya Namaskar was 3 minutes and 40 seconds. This means two sets of 12 postures, both the left side and the right side. It’s typical to start with the right side.

      In yoga, many two-sided poses start on the right side to help you have regular bowel movements. This is because the bulk contained in your large intestine moves from right to left.

      Namaste, Victoria

  3. Minesh

    Hello Victoria:

    The number looks little disintegrated.

    i.e if 1 round of Surya namaskar burns 13.91 calories which takes around 3.4 minutes.

    With the above maths:

    40 minutes of suryan amaskar around 10 rounds ( 20 cycles ) should only burn 139.1 calories and not 500 calories as you mentioned.

    Kindly please clarify and confirm .

    • Victoria


      Thank you for bringing this error to my attention. I have made the correction. Please double-check it for me, but mind the note below for your calculations.

      BTW: 3.4 minutes does not equal 3 minutes and 40 seconds

      Thanks again, Victoria

      • Minesh

        sure I got your point of 3 minutes 40 seconds is not eaual to 3.40 Minutes , it must be eaual to around 3.66 Minutes . Cheers.

        Enjoy suryanamaskar and Yoga

  4. Sanj

    Hi Victoria,

    Glad to come across some data around surya namaskar as most places only talk about the effects of it, which is great but I need help to calculate how many surya namaskars I must be doing everyday for 5 days to loose 15-17 kg weight. I’m 27 yrs old and weigh 72 kilos/158 pounds as of now with most of the fat around the core and legs.

    I’m on a healthy diet and avoid oil, sugar, fat or have in very minimal portions if out with friends. I am working out, but not regularly. But even with what I have done, I don’t seem to be loosing weight or gaining muscle and a toned body AT ALL, not even a bit.

    I’m medically fit and do not have thyroid etc.

    Having a goal could certainly help. Please provide me a good input based on your immense knowledge and research facts.

    Thanks in advance!!

    • Victoria


      Congratulations on changing your diet and exercising to improve your health and lose weight!

      Let’s break your questions/situation down:
      1. How many Surya Namaskars must you do five days per week to lose 15 to 17 kilograms (approx. 33 to 38 pounds)? — How much weight you can lose in a week depends on your caloric deficit, your metabolic rate and the type of food you eat (natural vs. processed), as well as many other factors. Please see the last section of the article for the numbers you need to make the calculation.

      2. “most of the fat around the core and legs” – Your body chooses where it burns fat and spot reduction is a weight loss myth. For example, you can burn calories by doing biceps curls and your body can decide to take the fat from your legs, not your arms.

      3. I’m on a healthy diet and avoid oil, sugar, fat…& I don’t seem to be loosing weight or gaining muscle… — Low-fat diets are not effective for some people. “In fact, dozens of studies have found that low-fat diets are no better for health than moderate-or high-fat diets—and for many people, they may be worse,” according to Harvard Health News. Read more…

      4. “I am working out, but not regularly.” – Try working out regularly for best weight loss and muscle toning results.

      Thanks for your questions, Victoria

  5. Minesh

    Hello Victoria:

    So yes slow round of 1 suryanamaskar ie 2 cycles ( around 3 minutes 40 seconds ) burns around = 13.91 calories .

    a.) What are the stats for fast suryanamaskar i.e 1 round of suryanamaskar ( i.e 2 cycles )in just around 1 minutes 25 seconds and so on. Here we assume suryanamaskar for 30 minutes with the speed mention.

    b.) Further could you also explain still more super fast suryanamaskar i.e 1 round ( i.e 2 cycles ) in just 40 seconds. Same here we assume suryanamaskar as its fast minimum 20 minutes.

    with the above scenario a.) and b.) where suryanamaskar will be done with aerobic dynamics and fast could you guide to the calories burnt here.

    Looking forward to hear from you,

    Best ,


  6. Rupi

    Hi Victoria,

    I do 50 SuryaNamaskar in a day, 5 times a week. My question is I mostly do a quick round of suryanamaskar i.e. about 4 suryanamaskar in 1 minute. Is it right or wrong…


    • Namaste Rupi,

      I’m impressed with your Surya Namaskar schedule and you ask an excellent question answered by a study reported in a 2011 issue of the International Journal of Yoga examining the difference between doing fast and slow Surya Namaskar. Slow Surya Namaskar significantly decreased diastolic blood pressure – the bottom number of your blood pressure reading –, while fast Surya Namaskar significantly increased systolic blood pressure – the top number of your blood pressure reading. Both groups experienced an improvement in grip strength and grip endurance, as well as improved inhalation and exhalation, but fast Surya Namaskar produced significantly more improvement than slow Surya Namaskar.

      I hope this helps to answer your question, Victoria

      • Rupi

        Thanks Victoria for your answer :)

        • srini

          Dear Victoria,

          Continuing on Rupi’s question, I follow a similar routine to her, namely 50-60 surya namaskar’s about 5 days a week. The average time I take is little less than Rupsi’s – approx. 25 min to complete 60 cycles of SN. I would really appreciate an idea of the calorie count I am to assume for my workout. If you go ny minutes, it is hardly 75 cal but I am sure we cannot take 60 times 13.29 calories either! Please help. The website you indicated only talked about the similarities and differences between SSN and FSN… No calorie counts?!

          Thanks in advance,

  7. Vibha

    My question is quite similar to Minesh’s.
    If 1round=2 cycles in 3.40min will burn 13.9 Cal. I do suryanamaskar at the rate of 1round in 1.5 min. By the end of 10min I will start sweating. How to calculate calories burnt for doing suryanamaskar at this rate?

    Please do answer my question as it will greatly help me in planning my workout and diet. I tried to search all over Internet there is no proper answer with regards to my concern. Thank you.

    • Hi vibha

      I did figured out my question and in general scenarios can be below:

      So the more faster you do say the in total you lose more kcalories but individually per cycle score goes around 5kcal or even 4kcal( if you do real faster) . so in 10 minutes if you are doing 1 round in 1.5 minutes and say you do for 11 minutes…i.e 7 rounds = 14 cyles * 4.5kcal = 63 Kcal …..

      the more faster you do in general it burns more no of calories viz a viz slow SN in same time… in 11 minutes with slow SN ( 1 Round @ 3.5 minute ) you loose around 14 * 3 Rounds = 52 Kcal….

      To keep it interesting I vary Suryanamskar speed from V.V.V.Slow ( around 20 minutes for 1 round, yes I do vary slowly enjoying the stretch and meditative effects of it ) to V.Fast ( 80 Seconds = 1 Round )and varying speed time between them to keep enjoying SN daily and enjoying the bliss…..

      Keep on Enjoying SuryaNamaskar…..Cheers

  8. priyanka shukla

    i perform 50 suryanamkar daily, my question is that i have heard that surynamaskar doesn’t help in weight lose i want to lose 20kg as i am overwieght i weigh 73kg and my age is 25yr, am a thyroid patient too, plz guide is performing suryanmaskar with healthy diet hepl me to lose weight.

    • Namaste Shukla,

      Congratulations for having the discipline to do 50 suryanamaskar per day! You’re burning a lot of calories, which should help promote weight loss if you’ve reduced your calorie consumption by eating healthier foods. However, your medical condition might be working against your weight loss efforts. Your health care professional should have more information on how to control weight for people with your condition.

      Keep doing yoga,


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  10. stuti

    I do 55 sets of surya namaskar daily and I plan to lose 20 kgs of weight.At what pace should I do it.Is it alright to perform it at a fast pace.

  11. Harshita

    Hi Victoria! I am an 18-year old female suffering from irregular periods. I hv recently lost weight to 51 kg and my height is arnd 165cm. there is a bulge on my lower belly coz i think i don’t get my periods for more than 3 months. Could u pls tell me if i hv made the correct hypothesis? Can surya namaskar help me get rid of that bulge? And on an end note, for how many seconds should i hold a pose during surya namaskar? THANKS A LOT????

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