Following a sequence of 26 yoga poses, Bikram yoga is performed in a room heated to approximately 105 degrees F. Although many of the poses used in the sequence are relatively challenging, the heat allows the body to move easier and stretch more fully. Although Bikram yoga can be used to help you achieve your weight-loss goals, some people might notice a bit of weight gain as they begin a Bikram practice.
During Bikram yoga, you will use your own body weight to strengthen and tone your muscles. Similar to any strength-training workout, regular Bikram yoga sessions result in increased muscle tone throughout your body. Because muscle weighs more than fat, you might find that your weight increases as you develop this new muscle density. In fact, the Bikram Yoga Richmond website explains that your scale does not necessarily provide a good reflection of your weight loss efforts. Because you will almost certainly gain muscle during regular Bikram yoga sessions, the number on your scale might stay the same or increase slightly. However, you should notice that your clothes fit better around your slimmer, more toned body.
Calories In vs. Calories Out
To successfully lose weight, you must burn more calories than you take in on a regular basis. One pound of weight equals 3,500 calories. To lose 1 lb. of weight per week, you must burn 3,500 calories more than you consume by the end of the week. According to the HealthStatus website, 30 minutes of Bikram yoga burns approximately 190 calories for a 120-pound person, 250 calories for a 160-pound person and 320 calories for a 200 pound person. Because most Bikram yoga classes last 60 to 90 minutes, most people can burn 400 to 900 calories per session. Although this certainly can contribute to a calorie deficit, it will not result in weight loss if you consume more calories than you burn each day.
After a hot, sweaty Bikram yoga session, your appetite is probably suppressed and nearly nonexistent. But once your body begins to cool down, you might find a ravenous appetite suddenly emerges. In fact, vigorous exercise can increase your appetite. Eating extremely large meals after a Bikram yoga session can counteract the weight loss benefits of the session. Vigorous exercise might also give you a new sense of entitlement when it comes to selecting meals and snacks. Since you just burned so many calories in Bikram yoga, you might feel entitled to enjoy a high-calorie treat. But if that double chocolate muffin packs a whopping 500 calories, it could erase every bit of effort you gave in the gym.
Bikram yoga is an extremely vigorous form of exercise that causes intense sweating. To avoid dehydration, drink plenty of water before, during and after your workout. If you weigh yourself immediately after Bikram, you might see a smaller number on the scale. However, any weight lost during the session is entirely water weight and it should be returned to your body quickly. Even if you are on a quest to lose weight, you should never avoid drinking water or eating regular meals and snacks to achieve your goals.
- Bikram's Yoga College of India Santa Fe: Frequently Asked Questions
- Bikram Yoga Richmond: FAQ & Policies
- TIME; Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin; John Cloud; August 2009
- CBS News; Can Exercise Make You Gain Weight?; Keri Glassman; August 2009
- TeensHealth: Why Do I Gain Weight When I Exercise?
- HealthStatus: Calories Burned Estimator