Does Yoga Help You Lose Weight?

yoga and weight loss

Can yoga help you lose weight? Since yoga first gained mainstream popularity, there have been many health benefits associated with the practice, including everything from increased flexibility to reduced stress. However, can yoga also help you lose weight?

When social media is flooded with celebrities with great abs and yoga gurus posing on the best mats, it’s easy to assume it can help with weight loss (opens in a new tab). However, is there any science-based evidence that yoga is good for you (opens in a new tab) and that it can help you lose weight? After all, there are plenty of cardio-based workouts that work; treadmills, exercise bikes, and rowing machines all help with weight loss (opens in a new tab).

In this article, we will explore the types of yoga, how yoga can help you lose weight and what yoga poses you can do.

Types of Yoga 

Yoga is a set of physical, mental and spiritual exercises that help participants focus on their breath and feel more connected to their bodies.

Yoga involves a high emphasis on turning your attention inward, and the breath is always part of fitness, but in yoga you really emphasize a certain type of breathing that you associate with body position and posture.

There are many different types of yoga, and while they all work to connect the breath to movement, some types are better suited to certain goals.

  • Yoga Nidra. This practice is similar to restorative yoga in that it focuses on relaxation, but also incorporates the use of props, such as bolsters or blankets, to increase comfort and deepen relaxation. Meditative yoga focuses primarily on meditation and relaxation and has been shown to reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety and improve sleep. This type of yoga does not burn many calories, but can enhance self-awareness and positive thinking, which can have a positive impact on your health and help with your weight loss goals.
  • Vinyasa or “power” yoga. This type of yoga flows from one pose to another, linking the body’s movement to the breath. Flow yoga can be fun for those who like fast movement and more poses. This type of yoga is more aerobic than Nidra and may burn more calories and have a more direct effect on weight loss. 
  • Bikram or “hot” yoga. This style features 26 postures and associated breathing exercises performed in the exact same order in each class. The room in which Bikram is practiced is set to 105 degrees Fahrenheit and 40 percent humidity. For those who like to sweat and want to be more predictable in their practice, this style can be fun as they can perfect their postural performance. These classes are 90 minutes long and can burn between 300 and 500 calories, so this style is a good option for those looking to use yoga to lose weight. 

Yoga and Calorie Burning

yoga and fat burning

Although yoga is not traditionally considered aerobic, there are certain types of yoga that are more physical than others.

An active, intense style of yoga helps you burn the most calories. This may help prevent weight gain. Ashtanga, flow yoga (Vinyasa) and power yoga are examples of more physical types of yoga.

Flow yoga and power yoga are usually offered in hot yoga studios. These types of yoga keep you in almost constant motion, which helps you burn calories.

Practicing yoga may also help you develop muscle and improve your metabolism.

Although restorative yoga is not a particular type of yoga for the body, it may still help with weight loss. One study found that restorative yoga was effective in helping overweight women lose weight, including belly fat.

These findings are particularly promising for those whose weight may make more intense forms of yoga difficult.

Yoga may be a promising way to help with behavior change, weight loss and maintenance by burning calories, improving mindfulness and reducing stress. These factors may help you reduce your food intake and become aware of the effects of overeating.

7 Yoga Poses to Try at Home

Yoga is a series of poses strung together to help create an experience, but some poses are more beneficial than others for building muscle and losing weight. We suggest adding the following to the mix to help you.

  • Downward dog. Downward dog pose has you bend your body into a V-shape with your feet on the ground, toes facing forward, and hands on the floor in front of you. Holding this pose will help exercise your arms, legs and abs.
  • Plank. The pose involves keeping your body in a straight horizontal line with your hands and toes on the floor. Holding this pose will activate your core.
  • Side plank. Side push-ups are similar to “normal” push-ups, except that one arm and leg are on the floor while the other arm and leg are balanced on top. It also activates your core, as well as some of your lateral oblique muscles.
  • Chair pose. Start standing, then bend your knees while pushing your butt back as if you were sitting in an invisible chair. You’ll get great hip and quad activation.
  • Warrior 1. This involves standing with your feet rooted to the ground. Your back leg is behind your front leg, and your back foot is angled outward as your front foot points forward. Your front knee should be bent, while your back leg is straight. Your upper body should be straight with your head and torso pointing in front of you. Your arms and hands are raised above you. All warrior poses are a great way to activate your legs and core.
  • Warrior 2. The Warrior 2 stance is similar to Warrior 1. However, your arms should be on a straight horizontal line and your torso should be open to the side.
  • Warrior 3. Warrior 3 consists of shifting your weight forward from Warrior 1 so that you are balanced on a straight leg. Your arms are usually straight out in front of you, level with the ground.

Again, if you’re interested in trying yoga for weight loss, it’s usually best to pair it with another form of exercise, such as HIIT. but adding yoga to the mix can help you lose weight and gain a healthier mindset in the process.

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