Yoga is an effective activity to incorporate into your exercise routine for many reasons. Yoga not only helps to improve overall body strength, balance, flexibility, and stability; it is also a great way to reduce stress.

Many seek out yoga classes to help clear the mind and to increase peace in their daily lives. Yoga isn’t known for an intense calorie burning workout but, if you chose a higher level class that is more intense and faster moving you can achieve a great workout that burns some major calories.

There are different types of yoga classes such as power yoga, Hatha Yoga, Bikram Yoga. Typical yoga classes will last around 45 minutes. Choosing a yoga class that is right for your fitness level yet physically challenging is the key. Listed are a few tips to incorporate to get the most out of your next yoga class.


Choose a More Challenging, Intense Style

Choosing a faster-paced class with a more intense style such as, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, or Jivamukti where you spend most of the class doing standing postures will surely burn more calories vs a  restorative yoga classes such as Kripalu-style where you spend most of your time lying on the mat.

Make sure you inquire at your yoga studio how they rate the levels of the yoga classes to ensure you are choosing the class that will provide the maximum benefit. Remember, the more you move, the more calories you will be burning.

Add More to Down Dog

In many classes, you’ll find yourself spending a lot of time in Down Dog. While it is a challenging pose on its own, you can make it harder (and burn more calories) by doing variations like Quarter Dog with your forearms resting on the mat (this also gives tired wrists a break), Three-legged Dog with one leg in the air, or get all fancy and do Down dog dancer with one leg in the air and bent at the knee while the same side arm extends up to grab your foot.

All these variations require more balance and upper body strength, so you’re exerting more energy to hold them.

Limit Your Rest Between Postures

You will most likely be instructed to take a quick break in between poses with Child’s Pose but,  if you feel like a break isn’t required burn more calories by doing a vinyasa instead.

Add Some Extra Time

The longer your yoga class, the more calorie burning yoga poses you can squeeze in and the more calories you’ll likely burn. Typically in a 90 minute class, one may burn about 403 calories, in a 60 minute class about 269 calories and in a 45 minute class about 202 calories. Studios generally offer longer classes compared to a gym.

The Longer You Hold a Pose the Better

Usually poses are held for 5 breaths but, if time allows and you feel strong enough, hold the pose longer. By increasing the duration of each pose, it engages your muscles much more and helps to increase your overall strength and burn more calories.

Do You Feel Challenged?

Just like any workout, if you continue to do the same thing over and over, your body will become accustomed to the routine. When poses feel easy, your body work less hard, and in turn you will burn fewer calories. Don’t forget to challenge your muscles by trying out new or more difficult poses to place new demands on your muscles.

When you feel your arms and abs shake in an arm balance like Four-Limbed Staff Pose, you’ll know you’re working hard and burning more calories in the process. However, only do poses your body is ready for and don’t be afraid to ask your instructor for safety tips.

Here are five calorie burning yoga poses that will leave you feeling more calm, yet invigorated. Enjoy your next yoga session knowing that you will really feel the burn with these calorie burning yoga poses that we love!

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Cobra Pose

A great pose that can firm the buttocks and tone the abs

– Lie face-down on the floor, with the tops of your feet flat against the ground.
– Press your legs and hips down. Place your hands under your shoulders, palms down and fingers spread apart.
– Press into your hands, lifting your head, chest and upper back off the mat. Keep your gaze forward and up and your shoulder blades down and back.
– Push back your shoulders and feel the stretch spread evenly along the length of your spine.
– After a few deep breaths, relax to a prone position on an exhale.

Wind-Releasing Pose

Targets your abdominal area.

– Lie down on the floor and bring your knees up to your chest with your ankles together.
– Clasp your arms together over your knees as you bring your head up off the floor.
– Breathe deep as you feel the stretch work your abs, then relax slowly.

Bow Pose

A fat burning advanced yoga pose that tones the arms, legs, and abdominals

– Lie down on your stomach; bend your knees and reach around to grab your feet.
– Pull in your stomach and extend your feet upward, raising your upper body at the same time. Keep your shoulder blades down and back.
– Hold for several breaths and then relax.

Side-Stretch Pose

Increases your heart-rate and burns calories

– Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip width apart.
– Rotate your torso and turn both your feet to the right. Keeping legs straight, exhale and hinge over your right leg until your torso is parallel to the floor, reaching your hands to the ground (if you can’t touch the floor, you can rest them on a block).
– Hinge further with each exhale, moving your torso closer to your right thigh.

Remember to keep breathing, then relax, and repeat in the opposite direction.

Warrior I Pose

Works your abs, thighs and arms, and is most effective if used as part of a sequence such as Sun Salutation

– Standing straight, step your left leg 4-5 feet to the left, and then rotate both feet as well as your torso toward the left.
– Keeping your right leg straight, bend your left knee over your toes.
– Raise both arms high above your head with your fingertips pointing upward, looking up at your hands.

Images by Joel Nilsson Nelson

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