Is hot yoga good for weight loss?
The short answer is yes, hot yoga does benefit weight loss
Hot yoga can definitely help with weight loss but there are some caveats. You won’t lose anything with any activity if you only do it once or twice a week. That goes for any form of exercise, and hot yoga isn’t any different. The inches aren’t going to melt off just from the mere fact that you’re sweating and exercising in the hot room. The good news is that over the years I’ve borne witness to many a hot yoga loser, weight loser, that is. I’ve seen people transformed over a few months in both Bikram and Moksha yoga. Still, if you’re expecting an easy weight loss solution, this isn’t it. Sorry to burst your bubble. However, hot yoga does benefit weight loss, and I can personally attest to that.
About my hot yoga weight loss story
Here’s my experience of weight loss with hot yoga. When I first began practicing yoga 8 years ago it was at a local studio nearby. I was working full time at a high stress job at the time and started to notice that my waistline was, well, disappearing. I had gained about 5 pounds per year for about 3 years in a row, which put me at 15 lbs more than what I was used to weighing. I have to guess that my ideal weight was always around 120 lbs @ 5’2″. I don’t believe in scales and I’ve never owned one. At the beginning yoga was purely an oasis for me. I didn’t consider yoga to be any kind of aerobic exercise or a “proper” work out. Except for the hot classes, they really got my heart going. Although I gravitated to the hot classes straight away, they didn’t have them every day and they weren’t always compatible with my schedule so I could only squeeze in 1, maximum 2 hot classes per week, even though I tried to go to yoga every other day. I also continued to go to step aerobics and cardio box classes at the community centre during my first two years practicing mostly non-heated yoga. I didn’t lose any weight during the first 2 years of practicing mostly non-heated yoga interspersed with the once or twice a week hot yoga class, topped up with aerobics classes at least once a week.
Talk about starting hot yoga with a bang
The deal was 30 days for 30 bucks at Bikram Yoga, so I jumped in with both feet. You can read a detailed review of Bikram yoga here. I had never been in a 90 minute class before, and certainly never practiced in such a hot room, plus the humidity was a brand new component. Funny thing is the first 7 days were relatively easy but every day after that was not easy. Maybe because it was July and somedays felt as hot outside as it did in the “Bikram torture chamber” but every day after the first week took a will of steel to get myself to the class. I’m glad I did because if I hadn’t of completed those 30 days I wouldn’t have gotten the final results. One very interesting surprise was that after every 90 minute class, I discovered I wasn’t hungry at all. Thirsty yes, but absolutely no desire to scarf back the nearest burrito which is how I usually felt after any 60 minute aerobics class. Taking into account you can’t really eat anything up to 2 hours before any yoga class (because you turn upside down quite a bit), I was thrown for a loop by my lack of munchies after the class. I did google this and found many blogs and chats that corroborated what I was experiencing. I also noticed a rise in my energy level and around day 10 the weight loss became noticeable.
Regular or hot yoga for weight loss – what’s the verdict?
I had not expected to lose any weight at all when I switched from regular to all hot yoga classes because I hadn’t lost any weight from my previous 2 years of practicing non-heated yoga. I had not expected hot yoga to be much different, only harder. But for me the hot yoga had a very different effect my body and I began to lose weight after the first week of daily classes. By the end of 30 days at Bikram yoga I lost approximately 10 lbs. Remember, I don’t own a scale, but even my stretchy pants were bagged out on me. My double chin took a vacation and my love handles did actually seem to melt. Important to note that during these 30 days of hot yoga I didn’t do any other kind of exercise at all. Firstly because the hot yoga took everything out of me and secondly 90 minutes in class, plus travel time to and from, then shower time added up to nearly 3 hours of my day. I had more than used up my “me” time that month. Once I had finished my 30 day “trial by fire” I got curious as to why I had lost weight in hot yoga and never lost any weight in 2 years of non-heated practice. One fact I researched was:
How many calories are burned in a Bikram class?
There are conflicting statistics on how many calories are burned in a Bikram class. The answer is somewhere between 600 and 1000 calories, dependent on the individual exertion rate, age, fitness level and other factors. I certainly felt like I burned a 1000 calories a class but even if it was only 600, my weight loss was the proof I needed to continue the practice indefinitely. That, and the way I felt after each class, which was simply fantastic. Scroll to the bottom of this post to see a comparison table of calories burned performing a variety of different activities.
After my initial 30 days of Bikram I settled into a regular practice of 2-3 Bikram classes for the next 4 years. I didn’t lose any more weight, but I did maintained the ten pounds I lost. Then, last year I stopped practicing yoga due to an injury (unrelated to yoga) and I gained back the 10 lbs over several months of a lower than usual level of activity.
Back to the drawing board
Or should I say back to the torture chamber. As my injury was healing, I decided to go back to Bikram and picked up my routine of 2-3 classes per week. I felt good but the 10 regained pounds would not budge. At around this time a friend of mine recommended two books for me to read, Thinner This Year and Younger Next Year. I read these books with interest and got 2 important takeaways. The author, Chris Crowley imposes a theory that strenuous aerobic exercise 2-4 times a week is not enough to offset any kind of weight gain in people over the age of 40. He is insistent that exercising 5-6 times a week is the only way to maintain youth, vitality and stave off the weight gain that begins after 40. Yup, 5-6 times a week, you read that right. The author goes on to back his theory with scientific data presented by two doctor/co-authors. Ok, are you with me here? First takeaway, exercise hard, 6 times a week if you are over 40 and want http://any chance of staying young and fit. Next is the theory that sitting still (i.e. in front of a computer or TV) for long periods of time sends a signal to your brain that it’s time to go into hibernation. Depression is tool of survival that enables you to be still, sleep and store fat over for the winter months. When you exercise you send a signal to your brain that you are in hunting and gathering mode, which is also happy spring mode. So, the second takeaway is either your body is in hunting mode moving forward or in hibernation mode storing fat getting ready for the famine. Again, all backed up by the doctor written chapters with scientific data. Those books got me thinking, I recommend you give them a read. I’m not in agreement with everything in these books and the style of writing is a little on the preachy side but they definitely challenged me to find out if there was some validity to what they presented. Canadians → CLICK HERE ← to buy
What does this have to do with hot yoga effects on weight loss?
A lot, because I decided to increase my hot yoga practice to 5 times a week. Taking into account the takeaways from the two books by Chris Crowley and his doctor/co-authors, I was going to test out their theories with my hot yoga practice and try to kick start my weight loss efforts again. But logistically, I could not manage 5 x 90 minute classes every week. I worked full time, and like many busy women out there also have a home and family to take care of. The lack of shorter class options at Bikram meant I had to find an alternative.
Enter Moksha Yoga
I was apprehensive but excited to start a different type of hot yoga practice at Moksha Yoga but their introductory offer of $40 for a whole month of unlimited classes made it a no-risk option for me. The first month went by quickly, and I took full advantage of that month. I tried every type of class they had to offer. I attended 20 classes in the introductory month and then signed on for a monthly membership. To read more Moksha please click to my review of Moksha Yoga. http://In fact, I was enjoying myself so much at Moksha that I forgot about my resolve to lose the 10 lbs I’d lost and regained. I continued to practice and hit my goal of 5 times a week easily because there were many more time slots available than had previously been offered at Bikram. I had a lot more fun practicing hot yoga than ever before, and the weight loss slipped from the top of my mind. Until one day I put on a pair of jeans I had stuffed in the back of the cupboard (you can guess why) and they slid on and buttoned up. Didn’t even have to lay on the bed. I still don’t own a scale but now after 7 months of practicing hot yoga 5 times a week I have had to buy quite a few new pairs of pants that hug me better. Of course, then I had to know…
How many calories are burned in a Moksha class?
The amount of calories burned in Moksha classes differ. Most classes are 60 minutes, but they also offer 75 and 90 minute classes. Calories burned for a 60 minute class averages 440 and for a 90 minute class is 700. Again, depending on the individual, fitness level, age, and other factors. So, if Bikram (supposedly) burns more calories why when I was attending 2-3 classes per week didn’t I see any weight loss? Only when I did 30 days in a row did I initially lose. This brings me back to the theories in the Thinner This Year and Younger Next Year books. I wasn’t invested in those theories at all but like a curious bunny I had to try it out and see if it worked for me. It did work for me, and I am now a believer. The standard 2-3 times a week most people work out after the age of 40 just doesn’t cut it if you are looking to stay fit and functional ’til the very end, which you know I am.
How do I maximize the benefits of hot yoga for weight loss?
To maximize the benefits of hot yoga for weight loss you need to do more than just show up. The term “work to your edge” means just what it sounds like. Exert to the maximum extent of power you have by engaging all the muscles, moving that limb the extra inch to get into the edge of every pose. Holding the pose until you almost can’t. I see participants who barely break a sweat in class. If their goal is not to lose any weight but to simply enjoy the breathing and the communal feeling of the class then they are doing perfectly fine. But if your goal is weight loss in hot yoga, then you have to work it. If that sounds harsh, I don’t mean it to be. I do attend restorative and Yin classes periodically and I take full advantage of that time to relax and let go, but that’s not why I do hot yoga. Know your purpose and know what you have to do to achieve it. If it’s weight loss, that doesn’t just happen without setting a specific intention.
How exactly do I lose weight with hot yoga?
- Practice more than 3 times a week (preferably 5, especially if you’re over 40)
- Work at your edge during class
- Stay hydrated (ok that doesn’t make you lose weight but it keeps you healthy)
Finally, if you made it down this far, here’s an interesting table so you can compare calories burned by engaging in a wide assortment of sports.
Maybe hot yoga isn’t the way you want to lose weight
Fair enough, if you don’t enjoy hot yoga the way I do, it may sound like just plain hard work. Different strokes for different folks, especially if you think doing yoga in a room heated up over 100° sounds like it might GIVE you a stroke. Maybe give it a pass. But there’s more than one way. Take a look at this video, I’ve seen the product and it’s a very well thought out plan, simple to follow and effective way to tackle weight loss involving yoga, but not related to hot yoga at all. Fair warning, do not click on this unless you have a good 20 minutes to spend watching it. I found it a little repetitive but watch it to the end for the full effect → Click Here ← for a non-hot yoga weight loss plan.
Calories Burned Various Activities
|125 pound person||155 pound person||185 pound person|
|Weight Lifting: general||90||112||133|
|Stretching, Hatha Yoga||120||149||178|
|Riders: general (ie., HealthRider)||150||186||222|
|Aerobics: low impact||165||205||244|
|Stair Step Machine: general||180||223||266|
|Weight Lifting: vigorous||180||223||266|
|Aerobics, Step: low impact||210||260||311|
|Aerobics: high impact||210||260||311|
|Bicycling, Stationary: moderate||210||260||311|
|Rowing, Stationary: moderate||210||260||311|
|Circuit Training: general||240||298||355|
|Rowing, Stationary: vigorous||255||316||377|
|Elliptical Trainer: general||270||335||400|
|Ski Machine: general||285||353||422|
|Aerobics, Step: high impact||300||372||444|
|Bicycling, Stationary: vigorous||315||391||466|
|Training and Sport Activities|
|Dancing: slow, waltz, foxtrot||90||112||133|
|Volleyball: non-competitive, general play||90||112||133|
|Golf: using cart||105||130||155|
|Horseback Riding: general||120||149||178|
|Volleyball: competitive, gymnasium play||120||149||178|
|Walking: 3.5 mph (17 min/mi)||120||149||178|
|Walking: 4 mph (15 min/mi)||135||167||200|
|Softball: general play||150||186||222|
|Walking: 4.5 mph (13 min/mi)||150||186||222|
|Whitewater: rafting, kayaking||150||186||222|
|Dancing: disco, ballroom, square||165||205||244|
|Golf: carrying clubs||165||205||244|
|Dancing: Fast, ballet, twist||180||223||266|
|Walk/Jog: jog <10 min.||180||223||266|
|Ice Skating: general||210||260||311|
|Racquetball: casual, general||210||260||311|
|Scuba or skin diving||210||260||311|
|Sledding, luge, toboggan||210||260||311|
|Basketball: playing a game||240||298||355|
|Bicycling: 12-13.9 mph||240||298||355|
|Football: touch, flag, general||240||298||355|
|Hockey: field & ice||240||298||355|
|Rock Climbing: rappelling||240||298||355|
|Running: 5 mph (12 min/mile)||240||298||355|
|Running: pushing wheelchair, marathon wheeling||240||298||355|
|Bicycling: BMX or mountain||255||316||377|
|Running: 5.2 mph (11.5 min/mile)||270||335||400|
|Bicycling: 14-15.9 mph||300||372||444|
|Martial Arts: judo, karate, kickbox||300||372||444|
|Running: 6 mph (10 min/mile)||300||372||444|
|Swimming: laps, vigorous||300||372||444|
|Swimming: treading, vigorous||300||372||444|
|Rock Climbing: ascending||330||409||488|
|Running: 6.7 mph (9 min/mile)||330||409||488|
|Bicycling: 16-19 mph||360||446||533|
|Running: 7.5 mph (8 min/mile)||375||465||555|
|Running: 8.6 mph (7 min/mile)||435||539||644|
|Bicycling: > 20 mph||495||614||733|
|Running: 10 mph (6 min/mile)||495||614||733|
|Planting seedlings, shrubs||120||149||178|
|Sacking grass or leaves||120||149||178|
|Mowing Lawn: push, power||135||167||200|
|Operate Snow Blower: walking||135||167||200|
|Carrying & stacking wood||150||186||222|
|Digging, spading dirt||150||186||222|
|Laying sod / crushed rock||150||186||222|
|Mowing Lawn: push, hand||165||205||244|
|Chopping & splitting wood||180||223||266|
|Shoveling Snow: by hand||180||223||266|
|Home & Daily Life Activities|
|Standing in line||38||47||56|
|Child-care: bathing, feeding, etc.||105||130||155|
|Food Shopping: with cart||105||130||155|
|Playing w/kids: moderate effort||120||149||178|
|Heavy Cleaning: wash car, windows||135||167||200|
|Child games: hop-scotch, jacks, etc.||150||186||222|
|Playing w/kids: vigorous effort||150||186||222|
|Moving: household furniture||180||223||266|
|Moving: carrying boxes||210||260||311|
|Wiring and Plumbing||90||112||133|
|Carpentry: refinish furniture||135||167||200|
|Lay or remove carpet/tile||135||167||200|
|Paint, paper, remodel: inside||135||167||200|
|Cleaning rain gutters||150||186||222|
|Hanging storm windows||150||186||222|
|Paint house: outside||150||186||222|
|Light Office Work||45||56||67|
|Sitting in Meetings||49||60||72|
|Sitting in Class||53||65||78|
|Truck Driving: sitting||60||74||89|
|Heavy Equip. Operator||75||93||111|
|Heavy Tools, not power||240||298||355|
|Steel Mill: general||240||298||355|
Comments are welcome, please leave them in the box below, Cheerio, Connie.