Bikram yoga, otherwise known as ‘hot yoga’, has emerged as one of the latest fitness trends thanks to celebrity endorsements and coverage in various women’s magazines. We’re very pro-yoga – it’s a great way to improve your flexibility and strength, it’s fairly relaxing and really makes you feel invigorated after a good session.
It’s also a pretty good calorie burner, with many of the challenging poses getting the heart rate up and can end up quite a sweaty workout. This is particularly true for Bikram yoga, but how many calories does hot yoga burn and is it more effective than other styles of yoga when it comes to burning calories?
The first thing to note when answering this question is that every person will burn calories at a different rate. A 250lb man with a decent amount of muscle will burn considerably more calories in an hour-long hot yoga session than a 120lb woman. To get a more accurate picture of the calories you’ve burned it’s best to get a monitor such as a Fitbit, as it will incorporate as many factors as possible and give you a more accurate reading.
Broadly speaking, a hot yoga session will burn between 400-600 calories in an hour – a similar amount to 60 minutes of light cardio. While calorie burn isn’t really the main aim of yoga, this is still a decent burn and it’s a great low impact way to get the heart rate up.
As for Bikram yoga being better for burning calories than other forms of yoga, what little evidence there is so far suggests that there’s little (if any) benefit in doing yoga in high temperatures.
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse monitored two classes, one Bikram and one normal yoga class, and found no difference in heart rate or core temperature between both groups. While this is a pretty small sample size, it found that there’s no calorie-burning benefit to cranking up the thermometer in yoga class!