A regular yoga practice alone will not cause you to lose weight. To lose weight you need to expend more calories than you take in, and yoga can help you do that, but at a much slower pace than more intense aerobic exercise like running. Certain types of yoga have higher calorie burn rates than meditative Hatha yoga.
Calorie Burn for Traditional Yoga
A 150-pound person expends 189 calories in an hour of traditional Hatha yoga. That's not enough to make a serious dent in your weight loss, according to fitness expert Bob Greenfield. To lose weight quickly, you need to create a situation where your body has a calorie deficit. The general rule of thumb is that 1 pound of fat is worth 3,500 calories. To lose 1 pound per week, you need to cut out or burn off about 500 calories per day, and Hatha yoga won't help you get there fast.
More Intense Yoga
Other forms of yoga offer a higher calorie burn, like Power yoga, Bikram and Vinyasa classes. In a one-hour class, a 150-pound person burns 351 calories, 477 calories and 594 calories doing Power yoga, Bikram yoga and Vinyasa yoga, respectively. Bikram yoga, a series of 26 never-changing poses, is always performed in a hot room at 105 degrees, and sometimes the other styles are as well. Both Power yoga and Vinyasa yoga feature constant motion, flowing from one pose to the next with little rest.
Mind Over Matter
Many people who begin a yoga practice report an increased feeling of well-being and relaxation. In "Yoga Journal," yoga guru Dr. Baxter Bell suggests that yoga helps those struggling with body image to reconnect with themselves, get to know their bodies again and see themselves in a more positive light. The overall mindfulness you gain from yoga may help you take better care of yourself and make better choices about food and lifestyle, states Beth A. Lewis, associate professor at the University of Minnesota School of Kinesiology says on Live Science's MyHealthNewsDaily. Thus yoga can be a complement to an overall weight-loss plan.
You Are What You Eat
If you want weight loss, you have to focus on the diet more than exercise alone, whether it be yoga or another workout. A landmark obesity study published in the journal "PLoS One" in 2012 confirmed what many researchers have known, that it’s easier to lose weight by dieting than by exercise and that exercise alone won't make you slim. So go ahead and keep up your yoga practice, but know that you have to eat less to lose weight.