Does Yoga Continue to Burn Calories After Practice?

Does Yoga Continue to Burn Calories After Practice?

Yoga works wonders in practitioners, including physical, emotional and mental health benefits, but yoga’s use as a calorie burner is debatable. Intense physical exercise that works the heart and lungs is required to burn calories and to continue the burn after you stop exercising. According to the American Council on Exercise, the “afterburn” effect of aerobic exercise is very small and depends on the intensity of the workout, but it is possible for your metabolic rate to remain elevated for up to 24 hours.

Your metabolic rate goes up after intense workouts because your heart and lungs are demanding more oxygen, which keeps the burn going. The key to burning calories comes from this cardiorespiratory effect of exercise, which means that you need to get your heart rate up and keep it up for a period of time. For an exercise to be considered aerobic, you must use the large muscles of the body in a continuous, rhythmic way, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. The more fast-paced styles of yoga can do that, but it all depends on your level of intensity and how long you practice.

Many yoga classes are designed with relaxation and stress-management in mind, but if you’re looking to burn the most calories possible from a yoga session, you should focus on high-intensity styles such as Vinyasa, Bikram, Power or Ashtanga. Mayo Clinic preventive medicine specialist Donald Hensrud, M.D., points out that slower-style yoga classes only help you burn about 240 calories an hour as opposed to 360 calories from an aerobics class. So while you may continue to burn some calories after an intense yoga practice, if you have this as your main goal, you may be disappointed with your results.

The meaning of yoga is union, or to acquire a deeper sense of balance among all the different parts of yourself. Feeling good about your body image is important, too, and yoga can help you to experience that regardless of how many calories you burn. A dedicated yoga practice will help you think differently about your body and self, which will help you in all aspects of your life. Simple lifestyle changes are a natural result of a dedicated yoga practice.

Developing better nutrition habits and a healthier relationship between body and mind may have an even bigger effect on your health than mere calorie burning. Other benefits that come from yoga include improved balance, flexibility and strength. As you become more mindful of the tremendous power that comes from the mind-body connection inherent in a yoga practice, you will naturally live a more active and healthy life, which will have you burning more calories as you move energetically through your day.