Yoga for Weight Loss: How Yoga Helps You Get In Shape
Yoga enthusiasts swear by the mental and spiritual benefits gained from practicing this art. The good news is, aside from these areas, yoga may also be effective in helping you lose weight.
While there are detractors saying that it’s not strenuous enough to help a practitioner get in shape, enthusiasts explain that it’s not solely about the physical side of it that helps you burn calories, but more so on how it affects mental processes.
Deep breathing and slow poses may not seem like an intense workout for many of us, but health experts are convinced that yoga can seriously trim and tone the body, while at the same time making your mind and spirit healthier as well.
- Relieving stress aids in losing weight naturally.
The keyword here is stress. When you are stressed, the body releases the hormone cortisol, as a response to the stressful event. This hormone is also responsible for weight gain. Lowering your cortisol allows you to lose weight faster and more effectively.
Since yoga is one activity that greatly reduces stress, it can actually help lower your cortisol levels.
- Mindfulness helps curb certain impulses.
Yoga centers on your mental and spiritual focus, or practicing mindfulness. The very act of mindfulness heightens your consciousness, which can translate to your behavior towards food.
For instance, a 2016 study showed that people who practiced mindfulness through yoga were able to resist comfort eating and binging on junk foods. This may be due to a more attuned sense of self, which can help one make better choices with food and other aspects of life.
- Yoga burns calories.
While yoga is not considered as an aerobic exercise, there are physical gains when you do yoga. Calories burned during a session can vary – from 180 to 360 per hour – depending on the type of yoga you practice.
Active, intense styles like ashtanga, vinyasa and power yoga are just some of the examples which help you burn a lot of calories, as they require a lot of complex movements that stretch and tone your body.
Meanwhile, restorative yoga may not be as intense as the aforementioned styles, it can still help in the weight loss process.
Be it an intense or meditative type of yoga, its impact on behavioral change and heightening mindfulness contributes to reducing food intake, less stress, and ultimately weight loss success.
- Yoga improves sleep, which is associated with weight loss.
Getting quality sleep is often linked to weight loss, as the hormones responsible for metabolism and hunger levels become stabilized when you get at least 6 to 9 hours of deep sleep.
Regular yoga sessions help improve sleep patterns, since you learn how to calm your thoughts and go into relaxed mode.
One type of yoga – yoga nidra – is specifically focused on guided relaxation. Practiced while lying down, this can be especially beneficial for strengthening your mindfulness routine and helping you sleep soundly.
Yoga Poses for Weight Loss
A yoga pose, or asana, is a Sanskrit term that roughly translates to “pose” or “posture”. Practicing asana movements involve physical exertion that can bring mental relaxation as you do them, which leads to a greater awareness outside and from within.
Here are a few asanas that you can easily try at home if you don’t have the opportunity to join a full time yoga class:
- Wide-legged forward bend
To do this pose, spread your feet wide apart, and bend forward at the hips (not your waist). Keep your back straight as you bend, and do not just hunch forward with your torso. Your hands should be touching the floor.
Hold the pose for about 5 breaths. You should feel a stretch in the hamstrings area.
This asana gives the hips a nice stretch. This helps ease tightness that many of us experience from sitting for hours.
To achieve this pose, hold a lunge position for 30 seconds, making sure that knee in front is at a 90-degree angle. Do the lunge for both knees.
You can place your hands wherever you want them to be during this pose, depending on what muscles you want to stretch.
For instance, if you raise the arms up, you can stretch your back along with the hips. Placing the hands on your knees, meanwhile, won’t give you as deep a stretch in your hips.
- Half boat pose
This pinpoints your stomach area, which is great for trimming that bulge. You’ll definitely feel the abs work on this one.
From a sitting position, put both palms on the ground and raise both legs. Once you’re stable, raise your arms parallel to the ground. You can increase the intensity by leaning back and moving your knees farther from you.
Hold the pose for 30 seconds.
- Side plank
You may see this in gym routines, which makes sense as this is also one of the asanas that can be effective for weight loss, especially for your abs area.
Begin in the regular plank position, with palms face down and toes close together. Tilt your feet to the left, with the outer right side of the right foot still touching the mat and the other foot is on top.
Put your weight onto your right hand as you remove your left hand from the ground and slowly lift it upwards. Hold this for 30 seconds and repeat on your other side.
- Revolved lunge pose
To do this pose, start with your right hand on the floor next to the left foot for support. Keep your front knee bent at a 90-degree angle and your other leg stretched straight.
Move your right elbow to rest on your left knee, and press both hands into each other to deepen the stretch along your back and shoulders.
You can hold this for up to 30 seconds, and do the other side afterward.
Yoga is a total body practice that can bring wonderful benefits far beyond weight loss. It may not be a straightforward exercise routine, it can open you to a whole new level of mindfulness that helps you stick to a healthier way of life.