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Do You Burn More Calories With Yoga or Pilates?

author image Sarah Barnes
Sarah Barnes has been a professional writer and editor since 2004. She has been published in newspapers and regional magazines in the Wichita, Kansas area. Barnes holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from a Midwestern university.
Do You Burn More Calories With Yoga or Pilates?
A woman is practicing pilates. Photo Credit: Satyrenko/iStock/Getty Images

It's hard to say exactly how many calories you burn doing yoga versus Pilates. Although the routines are different, Yoga and Pilates have a lot in common, namely their emphasis on mind over matter. Although neither activity is easy, they're both generally considered low- or moderate-intensity, meaning they don't burn as many calories as cardiovascular exercise.

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Varying Yoga Styles

The number of calories burned in a yoga workout varies widely based on the type of yoga being practiced. Most yoga classes involve holding various poses and "flowing" between them; the "flow," or vinyasa, is where the most aerobic activity takes place. "Gentle flow" classes, Yin Yoga and other slow-paced varieties are less strenuous, whereas "Power Yoga" or Ashtanga classes are more aerobically challenging. Bikram Yoga, a class in which the room is heated to 100 degrees or more, involves less vinyasa flow but still burns calories.

Toning With Pilates

Pilates is similar to yoga, with a mental/meditative component to the moves performed, but it includes more toning exercises and targeting of your core area. The structure of a Pilates class will vary based on the instructor and the equipment available; you might use straps, balls, Pilates machines or other accessories to perform the exercises.

Burning Calories

How many calories you burn doing a particular physical activity depends on how much you weigh and how intensely you perform the exercise. The average person burns between 120 and 220 calories per half-hour doing Pilates or yoga; however, these numbers will vary significantly based on the type of yoga or Pilates you do.

Challenging Your Body

Low-impact or low-intensity exercises burn fewer calories than high-impact activities like running, hiking, aerobics classes and sports. Consider mixing a few high-impact activities into your workout schedule if you want to burn more calories. To amp up the calorie burn in yoga and Pilates classes, try a more challenging class, do more repetitions of moves and poses, and challenge yourself to do moves and poses without modifications.

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