You can do yoga to burn calories by adding yoga poses that burn over two calories per minute to your yoga class or home routine.
Thanks to a study by the Defence Institute of Physiology and Allied Science published in a 2011 issue of the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, we now know which yoga poses burn the most calories per minute. If you want to burn more calories during your yoga practice, add some of the following poses to your sequence. To learn which yoga poses burn even more calories, click here.
Paschimottanasana — Seated Forward Bend
Burn 2.08 calories per minute, plus or minus 0.61 calories, when you do the Hatha yoga pose paschimottanasana, also known as seated forward bend or back stretching pose. This is the classic, seated forward bend you do by sitting with both legs extended in front of you, reaching for your toes and bringing your nose to your knees. As recommended in the book Asana, Pranayama, Mudra, Bandha, intermediate and advanced yoga practitioners can hold paschimottanasana for up to five minutes, which would burn 20.8 calories, plus or minus 6.1 calories. Contraindications for paschimottanasana include slipped disc, sciatica and hernia.
Supta Vajrasana — Sleeping Thunderbolt Pose
Burn 2.09 calories per minute, plus or minus 0.54 calories, when you do the Hatha yoga pose supta vajrasana, also known as sleeping thunderbolt pose. To perform this common seated asana, start by kneeling on your mat with your buttocks resting between your heels. Then, lean back as far as possible with the goal of relaxing your head and shoulders on the mat behind you. As you can see in the picture above, I cannot do this pose perfectly and my back should be resting on the ground. Yoga beginners should hold sputa vajrasana for a few seconds and work their way up to one minute. Contraindications for supta vajrasana include knee complaints, neck problems and sciatica.
Gomukhasana — Cow Face Pose
Cow face pose is a simple, seated yoga pose classified as a back bend. This is the pose where you clasp your hands together behind your back – the top elbow is behind your head – while seated with one knee on top of the other in a pose called dhyana veerasana (see the picture below). According to the yoga study, you burn 2.02, plus or minus 0.50 calories, on the right side and 2.45 calories, plus or minus 0.49 calories, on the left. The difference in yoga calories burned between sides, despite doing the same pose, may have something to do with your heart rate going up while doing the first side and not that the left side is the special calorie burning side. Asana, Pranayama, Mudra, Bandha recommends holding cow face pose up to 10 minutes on each side, which would burn 44.7 calories, plus or minus 9.9 calories. You can easily do this pose and watch a video at the same time.