Can I lose weight by doing yoga?

Author: Herbalife Nutrition

Sweating through a body-twisting yoga pose is what millions of people will do every day: but how many calories are they burning? And can you actually lose weight doing yoga?

The answer is yes.

But, understanding the broader picture allows you to better understand yoga’s relationship to weight loss.

Yes, yoga can burn calories and therefore could play a role in weight loss.

This advice from Sreyashi Moitra, a member of Herbalife’s Dietetic Advisory Board, India, is definitely worth noting.

‘Before falling for any social influence, remember the goal should not be only to lose weight, but to change your lifestyle for good with a healthy balanced diet and adequate physical activity.’

Yoga’s holistic and mindful approach to body and mind can also, potentially, help you lose weight, making this ancient practice quite unique in the weight-loss space.


Yoga’s focus on body and mind (and how this can help with weight loss)


Yoga began with the dawn of civilization. [i]

Research points to yoga’s ancient beliefs and philosophy, promoting a spiritual discipline, self-reflection and focus on harmony between mind and body. [BB1] [AO2]

As such, yoga can help promote a more self-reflective approach to weight loss beyond the actual calories burned. [ii]

Improved clarity, focus, and discipline, for instance.

‘Yoga can increase one's mindfulness and the way one relates to their body,” says Beth A. Lewis, Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota School of Kinesiology.[BB3] [AO4] [iii]

‘So, individuals will become more aware of what they are eating and make better food choices.”

What’s more, in a UK survey, the vast majority of respondents agreed that yoga had improved their physical and mental health, stress levels, strength and flexibility. [iv]

Studies have also shown that the yoga community and its positive culture is influential in an individual’s weight loss. [v]

Positive role models in terms of healthy living choices play an important role in losing weight.

And if you’re training regularly, certain yoga styles are popular among athletes and fitness enthusiasts for injury prevention and recovery benefits. [vi]

Calories and yoga: it’s not all the same


Aside from the mindfulness of yoga, if taking yoga classes helps you burn enough calories each day to be in a daily calorie deficit, then you will lose weight over time.

One health resource suggests a 500-calorie deficit per day for weight loss over time.[vii]

This will help you lose about 0.45 kg of body weight per week, which is almost 2kgs a month and around 12 kgs over six months.

Yoga may not burn calories as intensely as explosive activities such as HIIT and other high-intensity training, but you will burn calories. [viii]

How many calories you burn is contextual to the type of yoga you choose, how long the classes are, as well as your gender and your daily caloric intake.

A yoga session can burn anywhere from 180 to 460 calories depending on the length of class, your gender and type of yoga class. [ix]

For instance, more active yoga styles (such as Ashtanga, Vinyasa and power yoga) will burn more calories.


Yoga’s growing appeal


Within the broad practice of yoga is a myriad of styles and types from classical to modern yoga.

There is Ashtanga yoga, Kundalini, Vinyasa, Iyengar and Hatha, to name just five. [x]

Not only that, there are so many different asanas (poses).

So do your research before choosing the yoga type that’s right for you.

Or just try a few different yoga styles to see what feels best.

The yoga and pilates studio market size in Australia is estimated to be worth $567.5 million. [xi]

And the global yoga market size is forecast to reach $66.2 billion by 2027 with a forecast CAGR of 9.6% from 2021 to 2027.[xii]

But guess what?

Herbalife trainers have some amazing yoga classes online. And it’s free!

As one research paper in 2010 concluded: ‘The findings of this study imply that yoga may offer diverse psychological, physical, and social effects that may make it a useful tool for healthy, sustained weight loss.’ [xiii]

With any luck, you may come away from your warrior, bridge and tree poses feeling renewed physically, with greater mindfulness and mental clarity.

And if that helps you to a calorie deficit every day, then that’s a neat bonus for your weight-loss journey.