Yoga for Weight Loss
The benefits of yoga for weight loss are widely known and recognized. Even the amount of people that practice it is growing each year as more people try it out and help spread the word to others. There are three main reasons why people end up in their doctor’s office complaining about weight gain—they don’t pay attention to what they eat, they don’t move enough and they spend a lot of time sitting in front of the TV or the computer. If you have ever complained about being overweight then this list should be taken into account when it comes to your next decision regarding exercise.
Yoga, like other forms of exercise, can be a tremendous component of a weight loss program. Weight loss is the sum of 20% physical activity, 75% healthy eating, and 5% everything else. In this article, I will discuss why Yoga is a good choice for everyone.
Yoga and calorie burning
While yoga isn’t traditionally considered an aerobic exercise, there are certain types of yoga that are more physical than others.
Active, intense styles of yoga help you burn the most calories. This may help prevent weight gain. Ashtanga, vinyasa, and power yoga are examples of more physical types of yoga.
Vinyasa and power yoga are usually offered at hot yoga studios. These types of yoga keep you moving almost constantly, which helps you to burn calories.
Practicing yoga may also help you develop muscle tone and improve your metabolism.
While restorative yoga isn’t an especially physical type of yoga, it still may help in weight loss. One study found that restorative yoga was effective in helping overweight women to lose weight, including abdominal fat.
These findings are especially promising for people whose body weight may make more vigorous forms of yoga difficult.
Yoga may beTrusted Source a promising way to help with behavioral change, weight loss, and maintenance by burning calories, heightening mindfulness, and reducing stress. These factors may help you reduce food intake and become aware of the effects of overeating.
More in-depth studies are needed to expand on these findings.
How often should you do yoga to lose weight?
Practice yoga as often as possible in order to lose weight. You can do a more active, intense practice at least 3 to 5 times per week for at least 1 hour.
On the other days, balance out your practice with a more relaxing, gentle class. Hatha, yin, and restorative yoga classes are great options.
If you’re a beginner, start slowly — start with a 20-minute practice and build up from there. This allows you to build strength and flexibility and prevent injuries. Allow yourself 1 full day of rest each week.
Combine your yoga practice with activities such as walking, cycling, or swimming for added cardiovascular benefits.
As part of your routine, avoid weighing yourself directly after a yoga class, especially hot yoga, since you may lose water weight during the class. Instead, weigh yourself at the same time each day.
Is it possible to lose weight by practising yoga?
Short answer, yes. Regular movement and being in a nutrient-focused calorie deficit is the key to healthy weight loss and yoga can absolutely play a part in that. However, it’s a much more holistic process than just calories in calories out: ‘It creates a deeper awareness of your physical and mental state, linking the breath to the movement of the poses (asanas),’ explains yoga teacher Alexandra Baldi, founder of Compass Chelsea.
How to lose body fat in a healthy, sustainable wayHow to Lose Belly Fat Safely & SustainablyOK, This is How to Calculate a Calorie Deficit
And the science backs Baldi up: The stress hormone cortisol can be a major inhibitor to weight loss, as shown by a 2016 study of overweight women, published in the American Journal of Managed Care. The research showed that restorative sessions, or Yin yoga, can produce the same weight loss results over 12-weeks as other forms of yoga.
But how? Well, by lowering cortisol levels by regularly unwinding through a consistent yoga practice, the women were able to successfully lose body fat.
Keen to calm down? This 9-move relaxing yoga flow oughta do the trick. Read what happened when WH Health Editor Claudia Canavan took on her own yoga challenge.
How often should you practice yoga to lose weight?
When it comes to how frequently you need to be getting down to your yoga mat, we’re taking our lead from Fi Clarke, head of yoga at FLY LDN, whose approach takes into account actual real life. Hallelujah.
‘If you’re on a mission to lose weight it’s best to thinking holistically about your lifestyle – that includes stress levels, diet, alcohol consumption and work-life balance. Your yoga practice should be considered as a way to switch off, connect with yourself and give you time to gain headspace and perspective. Once your nervous system is soothed and cortisol levels are low, your body is in a much better position to organically lose weight.’
That cortisol word again, hey. Seems our nervous systems have a huge role to play in healthy and sustainable weight loss. But, if you’re already in a place where you feel ready to incorporate regular movement into your life, what’s a good benchmark to aim for?
‘My suggestion would be to practice between 3-5 times a week and within that, incorporate at least one restorative yoga practice,’ says Clarke. ‘Try to ensure you’re taking daily walks to help stay mobile and to give you time around nature, as this will also positively affect your mindset and nervous system, too.’
However, and this is good to remember – depending on what type of yoga you’re practising, your body’s ability to endure it regularly will be different.
For example, if power or rocket yoga is your jam, you might only be able to hack two or three classes a week due to the intense nature of the sessions. Yin yoga, on the other hand, depending on time restraints, you could probably do every single day without feeling strung out, sore or knackered.
‘Stronger practices require a tremendous amount of body strength and enable you to stretch and move your body in ways that develop stronger and more defined muscles – as well as causing fatigue,’ Baldi explains. ‘So, for more intense styles, like Ashtanga or Power Yoga – which burn greater amounts of calories – I recommend three to four times a week.
Which styles of yoga are best for fat loss?
According to Baldi, focusing on dynamic practices such as Ashtanga and Power Vinyasa will help you burn calories efficiently as you work towards your healthy body composition goals.
‘Ashtanga yoga is a dynamic and physically demanding practice that follows a set sequence of 26 poses designed to purify the body by generating heat,’ she explains. ‘Power Vinyasa Flow on the other hand is a fast-moving practice that creates deep internal heat whilst paying close attention to proper alignment with thoughtful and creative sequencing. The continuous aerobic flow and pace of the practice are what creates more calorie burn.’
And if you’re a complete beginner?
According to Nike Master Trainer and yoga-extraordinaire, Leah Kim, sun salutations are the best place to begin as they’re novice-friendly and stimulate the entire cardiovascular system. Brilliant.
‘Sun Salutations are cycles of flowing postures, and you can increase the intensity and number of cycles to increase the physical challenge. Just make sure you’re breathing as you’re moving,’ she advises.
Is there anyone who shouldn’t practice yoga?
As there are so many different types of yoga, there isn’t anyone specifically who shouldn’t practice yoga. However, there might be some mitigating factors that help you decide what’s best for you and your body.
‘If you’re pregnant or have recently given birth, it’s important to practice specific pre/post-natal yoga that ensure your body isn’t in any compromising positions,’ advises Clark. ‘If you’re returning from an injury or operation or you suffer from a condition that affects your blood pressure, it’s important to take it slowly with any exercise as your body needs time to adjust, so something like Yin would be advisable over a more powerful practice.’
4 benefits of practising yoga regularly
1. Increase in strength
From the outside, it may seem to be mindful breathing and pigeon pose but you can make some serious yogi-strength gains too. Chaturanga – a key sequence in Vinyasa builds upper body and core strength with frequent planks and press-up movements, while downward dog puts your shoulders to the test and chair pose sets your glutes on fire.
Maintain mind to muscle connection and move with intention to really ramp up the muscle strength.
2. Mental health support
Making some time for yourself amongst everything going on in your life could be just the break you and your mental health need. From being a space to release suppressed emotions, let go of the day or calm your nervous system and stress response down, the mental clarity found on your yoga mat could be the thing to keep you feeling stable amidst stormy seas.
‘Practising breath and breath with movement will soothe your nervous system. We all seem to be in a state of hyperarousal, so, to function at our optimal, we need to balance the active state with rest – yoga will help you to do that, says yoga teacher and founder of The Human Method, Nahid de Belgeonne.
‘Yoga cultivates your awareness and studies have shown again and again that when you are fully engaged in something you are more likely to enjoy higher levels of contentment; it also helps you to reduce stress and increase your feelings of wellbeing and that leads to better sleep.’
So, to feel calmer, more in control, sleep better and more deeply, think about incorporating some daily zen into your life.
3. Improved mobility
Yoga can help with mobility issues, lengthening and loosening fascia and allowing you to sink more deeply into movements than you’ve ever been able to before. Mobility improvements will depend on which style you choose to practice – but, as Clarke recommends, try and switch up your vigorous flows with more calming styles too.
4. Whole-body health
‘A regular yoga practice will pull you out of your habitual posture, giving you a lean silhouette,’ says de Belgeonne.
‘It strengthens your muscles and keeps your joints healthy and mobile. It also pulls your internal organs, nerve system, lymph system and connective tissue into multi-dimensions to keep them resilient and efficient.’ Whole-body health and all down to a little movement every day. We’re into it.
6 Yoga Moves That Burn Fat Faster Than You Can Say “Om”
Whoever said you couldn’t use yoga to lose weight never tried these moves…
Sure, if you want to lose weight you need a diet that works for you (and eh hem, your lifestyle) and regular bouts of exercise. But that doesn’t mean you need to be going all-out every single day with sweat-dripping cardio or heavy weight-lifting to see results. Research shows that yoga can help in a weight-loss routine because it can boost flexibility, increase mental focus, and yes, burn fat. If you’re just getting started, try the “start with” moves to help you get in the groove. Once you feel comfortable with those, give yourself a challenge with the “make it harder” exercises. And don’t be surprised if you feel inclined to start showing off your new skills on Instagram soon—hey, if you’ve got it, flaunt it.
1. START WITH: CHAIR POSE
Start with feet slightly apart, inhale, and raise your arms straight overhead so your palms face in and your triceps are next to your ears. Exhale and bend your knees, pushing your butt back and lowering toward the floor as though sitting in a chair. Your torso will naturally lean slightly forward over the thighs; try to keep your shoulders down and back. Continue to take deep inhales and exhales; work your way up to holding the position for five breaths.
Works your: thighs, butt, abs, hips, arms
2. MAKE IT HARDER: CHAIR POSE WITH A TWIST
Hold chair pose, but rather than keeping arms straight overhead, lower them to chest level as you lower your legs. Then, bring your hands together as if they’re in prayer, and twist your upper body to the right so that your left elbow comes to rest gently on your right thigh. Keep abs tight, continue to take deep inhales and exhales; work your way up to holding the position for five breaths. Inhale and straighten your knees to return to start, then switch sides.
Works your: thighs, butt, abs, obliques, hips, shoulders, upper back
3. START WITH: DOWNWARD-FACING DOG
Start on the floor on your hands and knees, knees hip-width apart and hands directly under the shoulders. Spread your fingers wide and press your weight firmly across your hands and into the mat. Exhale as you tuck your toes and lift your knees off the floor. Reaching your pelvis up toward the ceiling and pushing your butt to the wall behind you, slowly straighten your legs (without locking your knees). Push your chest back toward the wall behind you, relax your neck, and let your heels drop as close to the floor as they can get. Continue to take deep inhales and exhales; work your way up to holding for 5 or more breaths.
Works your: legs, arms, shoulders, upper back, abs
4. MAKE IT HARDER: DOWN-DOG SPLIT, KNEE-TO-NOSE
From downward-facing dog, inhale and lift your left leg as high as you can behind you while keeping your hips square. Exhale and slowly bring your left knee to your nose, drawing your belly in toward your spine. On your next inhale, lift your leg back up to down-dog split. Repeat 5 times, then switch sides and repeat.
Works your: legs, arms, shoulders, upper back, abs, butt
5. START WITH: WARRIOR I
Start in downward-facing dog, then step your right foot forward between your hands so that you are in a low runner’s lunge. Turn your left heel slightly outward (so the toes point to your other leg), drawing left hip forward and right hip back so they stay square. Engage your abs and lift up into a high lunge, while lifting arms up, palms facing or touching. Continue to take deep inhales and exhales; work your way up to holding for five breaths. Return to downward-facing dog; switch legs and repeat.
Works your: legs, hips, butt, arms, shoulders, chest, abs, back
6. MAKE IT HARDER: WARRIOR III
From Warrior I, keep your abs tight and lower chest toward your right knee (placing your weight in the right leg), and lift left leg to bring your body parallel with the ground. Extend your arms out in front, shoulders away from the ears, with palms facing or touching (you can also rest your hands on your hips). Look down and point the crown of your head forward and the heel of your foot back, as if you were pushing against a wall. Continue to take deep inhales and exhales; work your way up to holding for five breaths. Lower your left leg and return to Warrior I; switch legs and repeat. Pro tip: if you need help with balance, practice with a chair in front of you that you can lightly hold whenever you need.
Works your: ankles, legs, arms, shoulders, back, abs, hips