Yoga has a reputation for being a gentle way to stretch your muscles and help your mind and body unwind. While this perception is well deserved -- and one of the reasons that is often cited for doing yoga in the first place -- it also begs the question: does yoga burn calories? 

For all the yoga lovers out there who are also concerned about counting calories, you'll be happy to hear the answer. In short, yes, yoga does burn calories. The number of calories, however, depends on a host of factors that are detailed below.

Your body weight

Your body weight has a great deal to do with how many calories you burn during different activities -- and yoga is no exception. In fact, Harvard Health Publications noted that is yoga practitioners will burn about 120 calories doing yoga for 30 minutes if they weigh 125 pounds. 

In contrast, if your weight is closer to 185 pounds, you burn about 178 calories doing the same time period. 

Type of yoga

In addition to your body weight and the duration of your workout being factors in the number of calories you burn during yoga, different types of the practice encourage the different amounts of calories burned. 

  • Hatha yoga is billed as a gentle intro to yoga. As such, you can expect to expend between 175 and 298 calories for each hour long.

  • Iyengar yoga has a particular focus on alignment and placement. This precise type of yoga does not involve a great deal of movement. In addition, people who take part in Iyengar yoga are encouraged to use blocks and other props to facilitate their movements and to help them get into the proper position. This type of yoga only expends about 175 calories for each hour long class. 

  • Vinyasa yoga is a form of yoga where you aim to coordinate each of your movements to your breath. It involves a great deal of movement as you flow seamlessly from one pose to another. Many people find that they can burn about 550 calories each hour. 

  • Ashtanga yoga is often referred to as power yoga. It is designed to be performed using specific poses while also coordinating your breath to those movements. For this reason, ashtanga yoga is more strenuous which means you can burn between 450 and 550 calories for each hour that you engage in a yoga class or workout. 

  • Bikram yoga is also known as hot yoga. This is because it is performed in a hot room. It involves a particular series of 26 poses that are moved through in a set order. In most cases, the classes for hot yoga run about 90 minutes long and expend about 330 calories. 

A crucial element that cannot be overlooked is the fact that you must also regulate your caloric intake to help you lose or maintain your weight. A weight loss of about a pound a week is considered to be a healthy rate. This equates to burning about 500 more calories than you take in. 

One strategy is to cut your daily caloric intake by 200 calories and practice an active form of yoga for about an hour to burn off the other 300 calories.