Practicing yoga for weight loss is becoming very common nowadays. With the emergence and popularization of active yoga forms like Ashtanga, Vinyasa, and several others, yoga is no longer regarded as only a passive form of movement. In fact, some forms of yoga poses can assist in weight loss and burning of body fat.
However, the main purpose of yoga is to bring your breath, mind, and body in balance, so if you would like to practice yoga for weight loss, however, you will have to know a few important things.
Yoga and weight loss myths
First of all, the weight loss will not happen overnight—you cannot expect to see results after only a few sessions. Consistency and persistence are very important in order to see results.
Secondly, active forms of yoga will give results faster than the more passive forms of yoga. However, active forms of yoga are best practiced only when you have a thorough understanding of the basics of yoga practice.
However, know that yoga also will not have the same fat-burning effects as aerobic exercises—an hour of intense yoga will burn about 150 calories, while an hour of aerobics will burn double that.
Just how does yoga help in losing weight?
Yoga is credited with inducing a relaxed state of mind and enhancing the production of the feel-good hormone serotonin. By lowering the level of the stress hormone in the body and increasing the sensitivity of the insulin, the body is signaled to start breaking food down.
This is why you feel energized and can take up other forms of exercise immediately after a yoga session: as metabolism is enhanced, your body burns food and releases energy. When you make yoga a regular part of your daily routine, there will be no fat storage in the body.
Yoga also enhances the production of feel-good hormones, which then reduces any chances of stress-induced eating—the cause of weight gain in many people.
So which yoga moves can lead to weight-loss?
The best form of yoga moves for weight loss that we are going to discuss here are best performed regularly, mostly three times per week. If you do it right, you will notice positive results in as little as 3 weeks!
When practiced repeatedly and at a steady pace, this flow of movements tones and flexes the body in all possible directions. It is a great sequence to increase the flexibility of the joints and strengthen the leg, shoulder, arm and back muscles. Practicing the sun salutation in combination with Uyaj breathing (also known as full yogic breath) also cleanses the body.
Yogis performing the sun salutation. Image: Kaya Peters
The wind-releasing pose is great for the abs! Just lie on your back on your mat and bring your knees together towards your chest. Clasping your arms over your knees to hold them in place, get your head from the floor, moving it towards the knees. Keep breathing deeply. You want to stretch your abs to the limit. Repeat this several times or as advised by your instructor.
The bow pose is great for burning fat as well as toning your arms and legs. Lie on your stomach, bend your knees, and reach your arms behind you to hold your feet. Extend your feet upwards and raise your upper body at the same time, pulling your stomach in. Breathe deeply a few times and then break the pose.
Warrior I pose
This pose works on the arms, thighs and the abs. It is very effective in strengthening the legs and building muscle in the lower part of the body. Stand straight and lift your left foot straight to the left, about four or five feet. Rotate your body to the left. Bend the left knee over your toes and keep the right leg straight. Raise your arms straight above your head, with fingertips pointing straight up.
And what yoga styles are most effective for weight loss?
The yoga style that takes the lead here is no doubt Vinyasa yoga, with its many intensive sun salutation moves. You will transition from one move to another fast, increasing your heart rate and enhancing the breakdown of stored fat for energy.
Another yoga style great for weight loss is Power yoga, especially as it combines cardiovascular workouts with different poses. The poses follow each other fast, leaving little or no rest time in between. Ashtanga yoga is also known for its high intensity and ability to burn body fat.
However, anyone who wants to take up yoga for weight loss should realize that the basics need to be learned first in order to practice more vigorous forms of yoga. If the foundations are not correct, other practices might lead to pain and injury.
Healthy eating is also an important part of weight loss. Image: Kaya Peters
Other benefits of yoga
Other than weight loss, regular yoga practice lowers your stress hormones, eliminating any stress-induced weight gain, and offers clarity of mind, increased alertness and productivity at work, elevated mood and energy, and increased breathing capacity.
In the end, any kind of yoga practice will result in weight loss if you make it a lifestyle rather than a one-off thing or a pastime that you attend to only when you have free time. What's best is that you don’t need any equipment to practice yoga—you just need minimal space, a mat or a carpet.
If you're really serious about losing weight through yoga, you should get expert advice from a qualified yoga teacher and prepare a regular practice routine. A good diet and clean eating is recommended on top of a regular yoga practice.
What other benefits of yoga can you think of? Have you noticed any difference in your metabolism after you started practicing yoga? If not, sign yourself up for a yoga retreat where certified professionals will help you to use yoga as an effective way to achieve weight loss!