Bikram Calories?

Claire Moloney's picture
Claire Moloney
July 29, 2014

Hi, thanks for the post on the course in healthy and physical activity in green buildings. Random question, but do you know how many calories are burned in an hour of Bikram yoga? I've read that it burns 1,000 calories, which is a LOT.

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Rob Freeman's picture
August 14
0 users voted0 users voted
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Hi Claire, thanks for your question. The number of calories burned will vary considerably from person to person. There's no one answer for everyone, such as, "Bikram burns 1,000 calories per 90 minute session" or something like that... However, you'll always see some number quoted.

The sweat factor makes it seem as though you are burning a lot of calories, but I think it's much less than 1,000 calories on average, even if the person is a large male. Since Bikram is not aerobic activity, it should have a lower calorie burn than, say, running at 6 MPH (10 minute mile), which for a 200 lb man would burn 908 calories according to http://calories-burned.findthebest.com/l/491/Running-6-mph-10-min-mile

When counting calories I believe it's better to err on the side of under-estimating how many calories are burned rather than overestimating.
Some sites say that Vinyasa Yoga is the top calorie burner in terms of yoga: http://www.udemy.com/blog/how-many-calories-does-hot-yoga-burn/ -- weighing in at 900 calories per 90 minutes, and that Bikram comes in 2nd at around 712 calories per 90 minutes.

Conflicting this, a New York Times article from Tuesday, August 12th, 2014 referencing a study of metabolic rates in hatha yoga found that in general (it didn't specify which type) only burns the equivalent of strolling/walking leisurely along at a 2 mph pace, which would "not meet the recommendations for levels of physical activity for improving or maintaining health or cardiovascular fitness."

According to Calories Per Hour walking 2 mph for 1 mile burns 113 calories, or the equivalent of 339 calories per 90 minutes... So this should be considered the low end.

The actual burn for Bikram is probably somewhere in between 339-1,000 calories per 90 minutes.

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