How effective is yoga for weight loss?

Avatar for Mish Khot By in diet, fitness, weight loss, yoga on 16/11/2020
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Yoga for weight loss sounds too good to be true. A slow-paced, mild practice that helps you lose weight? Sign us up! While fast-paced HIIT or strength training sessions are usually the most highly recommended methods for weight loss for beginners, yoga can be a good option too.

For those who don’t like intense workout sessions, a yoga session works offers a completely different experience. Instead of feeling drained and sore as you would after a vigorous workout, yoga leaves you rejuvenated and limber. While most other practices are ideal for quick weight loss, they are also not possible for everyone to do. Yoga for weight loss is a form of exercise that anyone can do and it offers myriad other benefits as well.

regular yoga practice

How effective is yoga for weight loss?

You may doubt yoga’s value as a form of exercise or question whether yoga can help with weight loss. This is a valid question because we are accustomed to thinking of weight loss as “sweating the fat out” or “no pain no gain” and yoga doesn’t seem so energetic.

The answer is that yoga can help with weight loss for beginners but it will take longer to show results than a more active form of exercise. However yoga is a holistic form of fitness that has long-term benefits on your health, weight, and your own relationship with your body.

Weight loss for beginners should be about more than just exercise. A comprehensive program should focus on diet and exercise, making healthy choices, and the importance of being healthy for life. Yoga covers all these aspects and also works extensively on mental stability and mindfulness which can be helpful for anyone who binge-eats or has eating disorders.

There are many other benefits to choosing yoga for weight loss as a beginner:

  • A beginner may feel less intimidated by a yoga class than an HIIT workout
  • Yoga is a low-impact gentle way to start working out if you are a complete beginner
  • It is a form of exercise that can be practiced at home with no equipment and in small spaces
  • It builds flexibility and strength gradually, allowing beginners to move to more intense workouts when ready

What is the best form of yoga for weight loss?

There are three forms of yoga which stand out amongst the many types when it comes to yoga for weight loss:

Ashtanga Yoga

This form of yoga focuses on repetitions and mastery of poses to improve blood circulation, muscle strength and endurance. The discipline builds qualities like awareness and mental fortitude which can be powerful tools in the journey of weight loss for beginners. A typical Ashtanga class, burns 350 to 550 calories per hour.

Vinyasa Yoga

This is one of the most recommended forms of yoga by experts especially when it comes to weight loss for beginners. Vinyasa yoga is a flowing form of yoga that takes you through a number of and movements fairly quickly while focussing on core and muscle strengthening poses. It is faster paced than Ashtanga Yoga and burns even more calories.

Power Yoga

Power yoga is a modern form of yoga that uses poses to provide a cardio-heavy workout. It can be quite intense and is most suited for those who are experienced with yoga and in good physical condition. Power yoga focusses less on the mindful aspects of yoga and more on physical movement. A session of power yoga can really get your heart pumping and sweat dripping, making it ideal for weight loss.

The physical benefits of yoga for weight loss

Yoga is an amalgamation of cardio, mindfulness and muscle strengthening, all of which contribute in their own ways to aid weight loss. A yoga session is usually about an hour long but may be longer in some cases. This includes a warm-up and cool-down poses.

yoga practice for weight loss

Any form of yoga shows results but the more vigorous forms recommended above are most suitable because they boost the heart rate to weight loss range. Not all yoga poses get your heart going but will still improve the muscular and cardiovascular strength that are necessary for weight loss.

Yoga for weight loss offers benefits like increased muscle power and development. When your muscles are working more effectively, your metabolic rate increases. This means you’re burning fat throughout the day even when you’re not working out. Yoga also increases lung capacity and aids weight loss through detoxification on a cellular level.

The emotional and mental benefits of yoga for weight loss

Besides the physical aspect, there is a mental component to weight loss. This may be the part that beginners struggle with the most. For anyone thinking about weight loss, one has to reconsider their relationship with food, stress management and lifestyle, their body image and reasons for wanting to lose weight, and their ability to maintain a workout regime.

Over time, yogic practice lowers stress hormones which can cascade into a whole raft of changes in the body. It also creates a mindset of mindfulness and discipline by pushing you to focus on every pose (asana), bringing you in tune with the mind-body and increasing awareness of the body throughout the day.

yoga for a calmer you

When you are more aware of your body, you will be less likely to eat unhealthy processed food or continue lifestyle choices that are bad for your overall wellbeing. A yoga practice makes it easier to lead a healthier lifestyle by improving diet, getting more sleep, choosing a more active lifestyle, managing stress better.

The secret benefit of yoga for weight loss

There is one lesser-known benefit that yoga offers for weight loss: detoxification. Yoga helps clean out toxins from the body like carbon gases, lymph fluid and lactic acid. It purifies the liver, digestive system and kidneys over time and with regular practice.

yoga classes for weight loss

Nearly every yoga pose or asana deals with detoxification by purifying the mind or the body. The twists and turns of the poses squeezes and massages the internal organs to help them eliminate toxins. As the body gets rid of toxins, metabolism is boosted and excess weight begins to drop.

Making better diet choices with yoga

A study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity found that a regular yoga practice encourages healthier eating practices and a more active lifestyle. The survey was conducted with 1800 young adults. Those who practiced yoga said they eat more fruits and vegetables, eat less fast food and sweetened beverages, and have higher levels of activity than those who don’t.

healthier choices for diet

By reducing cravings and increasing your discipline, yoga can help you make healthier choices and lose weight naturally.

What are the best poses in yoga for weight loss?

Every asana or pose in yoga is effective in its own way, but there are some which are better than others when it comes to weight loss for beginners:

Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog): Apart from burning calories, this pose helps stretch the entire body, strengthens the core and arms, improves posture, and aligns spine.

Navasana (Boat Pose): Stimulates the digestive organs, tones your abs, strengthens the spine and hips, and improves digestive problems.

Virabhadrasana II (Warrior 2 Pose): Builds confidence and mental fortitude, stimulates all organs in your stomach, and eliminates toxins through improved circulation.

Utkatasana (Chair pose): Stimulates digestive processes, strengthens lower back and hips, tones leg and thigh muscles, improves flexibility in joints.

How long will it take to see results?

For weight loss for beginners, it is recommended that you start with 3 classes per week. Give yourself two weeks to allow yourself to settle into the new regimen and then begin to increase the intensity and duration of your yoga sessions.

You should expect to start seeing results 3-4 weeks into your sessions, depending on other weight loss measures you take. You’ll feel the difference a lot earlier – a week of yoga classes will make you feel lighter and more flexible.

yoga for weight loss

With practice, yoga lights a fire within you. As this fire burns, it illuminates and brings about changes in other aspects of your life as well. Many people ascribe a number of life changes to yoga, including a renewed sense of purpose, greater confidence and more life satisfaction. With a disciplined practice you will start to lead a healthier lifestyle improving your physical and mental wellbeing and losing the excess weight without even trying hard.

If you would like to find a yoga class near you, Avaana can help you.

Avatar for Mish Khot

Mishana Khot is a fiction author and co-founder of The Great Next, an adventure travel company. She has been featured in National Geographic, Forbes magazine, and other publications, and has over 15 years of experience with health, travel, and lifestyle brands.

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