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Do You Burn More Calories With Yoga or Pilates?

By Sarah Barnes

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.

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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